Online personas

We’re all multi-faceted, and how we present ourselves online or in writing is as much a part of our personality as our “reality” offline.

Many of us just sink out in the “real world”. In social gatherings, we get lost in the crowd, driven to silence: our words disappear beneath the chatter, words stutter from our tongues, if at all.

We are the slouching ones, the socially inept, unable to string a sentence together or initiate conversation. Only in our writing, perhaps liberated online, do we find the means to express ourselves and make ourselves heard.

While it is true that you have to be careful of having too much faith in online personas, and being blinded by the supposed reality they present, so too must you be careful not to judge people purely by how they appear to you out in the wild when afflicted by the insecurities of company and environment.

You can be both an introvert and an extrovert, depending on where you find yourself, who’s company you keep and how you feel at any given time. Who is to say the online persona is not a person’s real self, unburdened by the shape of their body or the sound of their voice? Who is to say that who they are in the “real world” is who they really are? That this life is not equally manicured for public consumption?

In all spheres of life we are influenced by our environment and the expectations of others. You could clothe yourself in a garment of modesty, but have arrogance in your heart. You could drive a luxury saloon and be kind and humble, living a life of service to others. You could be a teacher of sacred sciences, whilst harbouring a crisis of faith inside. You could be known by all who meet you for your piety, humility and spirituality, while a battle rages within.

Online or off, we are all multi-faceted. The challenge for us all is to not judge: to neither write off our companions nor praise them beyond their due. Be realistic and reasonable: look in on yourself at what makes up your personality. The good and the bad, the hidden and the known, your foibles and prejudices, your strengths and weaknesses. Then know that others are just as complex as you.

We all have different personas which we present to different people at different times. It’s human nature, and the spice of life.

Primitive patriotism

“Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbours, films, football, beer, and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult…  All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations. And when they become discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontentment led nowhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances.”

– George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

United mindset

Look what we have in common…

An unwavering belief in conspiracy theories… patriotic, oppressed, far-right white people everywhere are convinced that the murder of Jo Cox is a False Flag operation, created to derail the Leave campaign.

An unwavering belief that the Mainstream Media is biased… every true patriot knows it to be anti-white and pro-Muslim, reporting lies about white people everywhere. The media is controlled by the Muslims and is both whiteophobic and christophobic.

A pathetic feeling of victimisation vindicated on a daily basis… they’re all out to get us, the world is against us, everybody hates us, how horrible… anti-white violence is on the increase and anti-white abuse has simplify become the new daily norm.

A fervent belief in a saviour of our people… the promised one is just around the corner, his arrival is imminent… the end times are upon us, rejoice in the flatulent one!

It is time to take a stand, to rise up against this horrible oppression… white people have had enough of institutionalised racism, the toxic liberal agenda, the eradication of their history, the brutal conquest and occupation of their lands… it’s time to overcome our differences and unite… Ingerland! Ingerland!

…what wonderful things are rampant paranoia and unremitting victim complexes… uniting the far-right, far-left, evangelicals and Muslims everywhere…

The influential

The obvious answer that alludes the scholar who asks, “Why must we condemn actions we’re not responsible for?” is not to assuage the demands of a hostile press or opportunistic politicians, but to offer unambiguous guidance to the kind of folk drawn towards extremism from amongst ourselves. That’s the role of people with influence.

Withhold judgement

Our wise sages circulating “truths” ought to know the difference between “confirmed” and “alleged”.

Nothing has been “confirmed”. Multiple sources have “alleged”. There is a clear difference.

In times of crisis, objectivity flies out of the window. Bearing false witness becomes fair game. Defence of the self justifies any means possible.

And we wonder how legends and lies entered our tradition in the past.

‘Verify it!” we are commanded. Until then, withhold judgement.

Muhammad Ali

Some of us never knew this man or his impact on the world until this past week when he passed away. Clearly he touched many, crossed the boundaries of faith and reminded others of a higher calling, of a greater cause.

Pastors, imams, rabbis, priests, politicians and ordinary folk may not line up to pay tribute to our lives when we pass on, but that should not prevent us from working to build bridges instead of walls, to be generous instead of miserly, to do good deeds… and yes to trust in God and return to Him when we err. We are not called to be perfect, but to live good lives in service of others.

New histories

I am always fascinated by the communal and collective reactions when a well known person passes away, because it shines light on the development of other histories.

It is well worth detaching yourself from the moment, standing back and studying the story telling that follows.

There are the biographies of those who knew the departed intimately, who shared every moment of their lives. There are the curated autobiographies left behind. There is the apocrypha: that body of statements incorrectly attributed to them. There is the mythology attached to the legend. There are the statements of well known others that cement authority. There are the claims of the multitude of individuals who only met the departed once, or who encountered him from a distance. There are selected sound bites. There are the views of enemies and opportunists. To each observer, their own narrative. To each individual, their own claims: saint or sinner, hero or fiend, man or more-than-man.

When we study our own reactions to the story telling and myth making of the present, we begin to better understand the legends and narratives of the past, and perhaps may begin the process of separating fact from fiction, as much as we are able.