I’ve been trying to figure myself out. I know, everyone is surprised. It’s all I ever do, I guess.
Social media forces us to see ourselves through many people’s eyes. I’ve made this connection before, but when Sartres said “hell is other people” he was speaking before social media even existed. Now, we all kind of live our lives both as an actor and an observer. We see ourselves as both a self and an object for public consumption.
It’s not surprising, then, that social media makes us feel both more and less real – it gives us a snapshot of who we are that’s independent of us, makes us tangible to ourselves in a way past generations never had, but it also removes us from ourselves, shifts our focus from our interior lives to our exterior ones, and strips us of the ability to see only with our own eyes.
But to see oneself the way others do is no easy task, and it’s almost always painful to face the reality that ultimately, other people do not see us the same way we see ourselves. They do not feel with us or see with us, they do not experience our existence as bringing the world into being, nor do they experience our death as the end of one. To them, we are just part of the backdrop of their lives experience, and no matter how central a role we are given, we remain dispensable, our roles in each other’s lives are infinitely more fragile than we like to pretend they are.
So I guess, uh… I’ve been trying to figure out how to see myself as an object for consumption. But that can be extremely painful, because… to see yourself the way others do is, well, hell. For one thing, there’s always a lot of uncertainty which on its own is enough to drive a person insane, but… we want… I want to believe that I can make people see me as more than a part of the background – not because I believe I’m terribly important, but because I’m clinging to the idea that I can somehow help other people to learn empathy and compassion by giving it to them myself (to the best of my ability). But you can’t force people to imagine what it’s like to live in your skin. You just can’t.
Ultimately, I am the only person who can affirm my own validity. And that sucks. A lot. I’ve learned how to see myself through other people’s eyes, but I still don’t know how to see myself through my own. Maybe that’s what I’ve been trying to avoid all along, I don’t know.
Does any of that… even make sense…?