Most Natural “You” Emerges When Masks Collapse

When presenting ourselves to the world, we wear different masks depending on who's around. To our high school friends we'll act one way, to family we'll act a slightly different way, to our boss at work we'll act slightly different still.

Historically the most common distinction made between types of masks has been "personal" and "professional." It wasn't too long ago when once you left the office, work stopped. Now work follows you wherever you go. Telecommuting, etc. So knowledge workers find themselves wearing personal and professional hats at the same time, 24/7, from the office and from home.

In other words, technology is collapsing the masks we wear, making it harder to project different versions of our identity depending on the audience.

My theory: The most natural "you" is the version that gets presented when masks collapse. For example, host a dinner party with your mom, best friend from school, your boss from work, and a woman/man you're interested in dating. How do you act? What comes most naturally?

A public blog is another experiment in voice-synthesis and mask-collapse. I write one blog and all sorts of people read it, people with whom I would customize my presentation if we met in the real world. I slightly customize my vocabulary and personality if I meet a client versus my best friend from childhood. But I write only one blog, and even if I intend for it to be read by a particular constituency, I must remember that both my boss and friend can read it. Thus, the "you" that emerges on a personal blog represents a regression-to-the-mean synthesis, which may represent the most natural version of yourself.

(thanks to Stan James for helping generate this theory)

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