This week I’ll attend a ballgame, barring rain and the end times. I’ve often uttered the following: “I’d rather watch sports on TV.” I say this, but I know it isn’t always the case; it isn’t completely true. Sure the camera angles are better and you get a broader feel for what is going on, but there is no exchange for the roar of the crowd and the energy that saturates the one who is there in person.
But we say a lot of things that aren’t completely true, don’t we?
I wonder if any of us really are who we say we are. I’m not talking about you smiling at your neighbors even though bodies are hidden under your house or anything. But in a simple way, how true are you? Or worse, how true am I?
It is jarring to think about it really.
I heard this lyric harmonized by Simon and Garfunkel recently, “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” Not anymore. Nowadays, I think a man says what he wants to hear, repeats it over and over again, and disregards the rest. At least that is how it goes for me.
If I tweet something enough times, I’ll start to think it is true. If I type enough humorous status updates into the social media rectangle that reads, “Hey, guy, what’s going on?” perhaps someone out there will think me a comedian. Enough pics of my abs and someone might think I care deeply about exercise. “Like” enough books and I’ll become a scholar in someone’s humble estimation. And thus we create ourselves to be things we don’t even love for the sake of pleasing others who fake-love those very same things. It is an endless masquerade, at which the best actors eventually win despite losing themselves in the process.
This may be why I dislike Twitter. And Junior High. And all the other things that provide me so easily with a mask. And what I am realizing more and more is that the problem is not with Twitter anymore than it was with Junior High. The problem is embedded deep within me. I fear the very thing I am supposed to be and instead attempt to “make” myself into something that plays better to the made-up audience.
And then comes the age-old rule: Love others as yourself. Does anyone really love the performance version of himself? I guess if you live there long enough you might develop some sort of infatuation with your creation. But love? It is tough truly to love a lie, no matter how glowing that lie is, and when that lie is who we are, love is a vain, hopeless pursuit. And perhaps it is out of a tired disdain for the selves we create that we are so prone to cruelty, gossip, and bitterness toward others. The phoniness we see and attack in others is due to a deep-seated hatred for all that is fake in ourselves.
At the end of this mess, we and our ability to love well are lost. All for a silly mask. A reputation. Admiration. The real thing frivolously bartered away for an image of it.
No I’m happy to go to the game, and I’ll strive to be myself, whoever that may be.