“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
–Hamlet Act 1, scene 3
We’re all phonies.
Not trying to get too Holden Caulfield here—particularly with two snooty literary references in the first few sentences of this column—but you’ve got to admit… we’re pretty fake.
We try so hard to cultivate an image of ourselves that’s usually somewhat off the mark. Case in point, look at this picture to the right. I look nothing like that. Well, sometimes I do, but most of the time I look balder, chubbier and paler than this (believe it or not). I like to tell people that I’m not photogenic, as the nature of still photography fails to sufficiently capture the nuances of my appeal. Truth is I’m bald and overweight—it’s not the camera’s fault.
As for the buttoned-down shirt, that’s one of like three I own. I’m actually sitting in my boxer shorts wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt as I type this. Of course we won’t run that photo… you’re welcome.
But enough about me—let’s look at you. As if vanity wasn’t a big enough problem before social media, there’s a pretty good chance your facebook/twitter/instagram/snapchat/whatever-else-they’ve-invented-in-the-days-since-we-went-to-print-feed paints a rather obscure picture of what your life is actually like. Hell, you might even be sitting in your underwear and a Grateful Dead t-shirt as you’re reading this.
Going beyond the superficial, let’s look at how we judge the actions of others. Many of us tend to skewer others when they commit human error, yet remain consistently beyond reproach should we find ourselves in a similar situation.
As loudmouth politicians grumble around “Telling It Like It Is,” they exhibit neither of those traits. That’s because they know they don’t need to… because we’re all phonies.
Respect yourself for who you are, then truly fix what you feel should be different. That’s way better than putting some distortive filter on your image.
Christopher M. Halleron