I have conversations with myself all the time, mostly in self-reproach. It is the natural order. In my writing too, I converse away, opening my inner ramblings to passersby, even as daily I almost delete it all.
On social media, a different kind of talking to ourselves exists: registering multiple users accounts with which to engage. Unfortunately these different selves are less likely to help you take yourself to account, but instead heap praise, congratulating you for your brilliance with glowing words.
In the past few days I have encountered several of them: all of them registered in June, cross-referencing each other; all of them celebrating the efforts of one protagonist as they engage in active discussion with him in Twitter threads and in the comments under his latest video.
Admittedly the web can be a lonely place for those that write, as we witter away mostly to ourselves. It must be doubly hard for the genius who sees his followers haemorrhaging away, who despite his best efforts just cannot engage his audience anymore. So why not invent admirers with whom to converse on Twitter and YouTube, who can be retweeted and captured in screenshots to be shared all over, as a reminder to those followers that remain that you are still relevant?
We will, of course, be held to account for these virtual characters that we invent, and for the personas we inhabit, even if we seem to spar with them in public. Definitely, we need to repent, shunning and obliterating these mischievous fictions we deploy in our efforts to feed our inner desires or to climb the ladder of fame and career progression.
Social media is awash with make-believe: autonomous bots, government-sponsored sock-puppets and self-serving trolls. I knew this once, but then forgot: for a time enraged by sentiments apparently shared all over, until I started connecting dots, noticing patterns, shared themes, common vocabulary, mutual followings.
For sure, genuine keyboard warriors exist, along with true admirers and fan clubs, but the puppeteers are numerous too, playing a long game for the dominance of ideas. The playbook is well-known by now: stir controversy to excite the crowd and then deploy your army of admirers from multiple incognito browser tabs to run to your aid — just remember which persona is which, or else the whole charade will come crashing down.
It is a good to have conversations with yourself, especially if you are taking yourself to account. Talk away, muttering at yourself for your foolishness and wayward spirit. Yell at yourself as you weed the garden or repaint the backdoor, remembering the idiocy that has populated your lifespan. Put it down on paper if you must, or hammer it onto your screen: press publish if it helps with the inner therapy.
But as for the puppets you manipulate in order to manipulate others: all of this must cease. The virtual realm is still the real world, part of the trial of life by which we are known and judged. If you find that you have no influence in the world, perhaps you should consider this a blessing in disguise: no need to invent characters to speak on your behalf through curiously named user accounts with contrived avatars. Obscurity truly is a blessing, if only you can dampen your base desires which command you to evil, petitioning you to make yourself known by any means possible.
Yes, undoubtedly, we will be held to account for all of this. Hidden from man as it may be, none of it is hidden from our Lord. Every word spoken or tapped out on a screen, by our own souls, regardless of persona we assigned it, has been recorded in an awesome book, and they will come back to haunt us, sooner than we think. And even if we obliterate a million user accounts and escape the attention of forensic investigators, it will remain in our record a blot and stain that we will be asked about on a day the like of which is fifty thousand years.
All that you have to cling onto now is repentance and hope: desperate hope that the Lord of all the universes will have mercy on your soul. For even if your intentions were good, as you understand it, you were still a manipulator pulling the wool over the eyes of others. For both your intentions and your actions you will be held to account, regardless of them being tangible and physical, or fleetingly virtual, made real only by the opening and closing of microscopic gates in a tiny lump of silicone. Most of all that is real is empty: the virtual realm only makes this more apparent.
Repent then — destroying the fictitious creations of your own hand — and hope in the forgiveness of your Lord, the Most Merciful, and resolve not to return to error or repeat or have second thoughts. Then talk to yourself properly: sit down with yourself and have a serious conversation. Decide how you want to live your life and get the different aspects of your personality to agree. Let the inner self calling to goodness have the ascendency for once: let the part of your soul that feebly petitions you to reform lead you for a change.
If, after your conversation with yourself, you have discovered that your career pathway depends on the manipulation of public sentiment, you better have another conversation about your choices. Perhaps the career which depends on the perception of the masses is not the career for you. Perhaps a mundane job for a mundane company that pays a mundane salary is better for your salvation than the vision you cling to. Any pathway that demands deceit is no path worth pursuing. We are call to the truth and truthfulness. Strip out everything that undermines the pursuit of truth.
These are the inner conversations that we must have. These the only conversations with ourselves that will ever be fruitful.