I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.
—Charles Horton Cooley
I came upon this quote yesterday in Jay Shetty’s audiobook, Think Like A Monk, and damn that is incisive insight. Is it not true we are but projections of projections? A skewed facsimile as we endeavor to manifest ourselves as we perceive others see us. I make this statement without judgement, more as a recognition of observable truth. In all our efforts to make ourselves, we build an edifice as an assumed image of what we think we are to others. It’s a trick, an artifice, a distortion.
The problems here are manifold. One, it assumes we know what others think of us in fact. Two, it gives too much power to the opinions and assumptions of others. Three, it assumes others know us comprehensively enough to distill our full character. Four, and most important, it removes our own agency. It strips us from discovering ourselves in sacrifice to serving an unknowable image we think others hold of us.
None of this makes us bad people, lacking and wanting of autonomy and originality. No, it’s more positive than that. It’s a friendly canary in the coal mine singing out for us to recognize this distortion in better service of our true selves. Be not buried in the soot and morass of assumed thought. Do not be the looking glass projected onto another looking glass when together we can stand apart in front of our own mirrors.
I’ve deactivated my accounts on the Big Three social media platforms. I said so long to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. This is not a stance in self-righteousness per se, more a timeout from too much toxic information. I doubt you need me to tell you about the inundation of anxiety and filth that has seeped into every post and every comment thread. This coupled with the induced compulsion to keep up, look cool, and fit in, was too much. I needed to get away. It’s something I wanted to do for many years, and I am glad I finally pulled the trigger. Not knowing what is going on in the outside world has been glorious.
There are some drawbacks to my decision, of course. Chief among them will be some lost connections I’ve made over the past decade—connections I cherish dearly. Another casualty is the dissemination of my photography. Far fewer eyes will see my work now. This is a blow, yet I feel the tradeoff necessary. I have this website, little traveled as it is, as my go to spot for creative self expression. I plan to continue posting photographs and writings here. I appreciate each and every one of you who visits my site. It is meaningful support to me.
Round number alert
Speaking of this website, here marks post number 500! Crazy to think I’ve made 500 entries since launching this site upon the world back in January 2014. I never thought I would have gone this far. So here’s to 500 more. Thank you all who’ve journeyed with me along the way.
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