Most People Think I’m Pursuing Acting. Nope!
Erving Goffman, a highly influential sociologist and writer of the 20th century, wrote a well-known book called, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. It “deals with the theme of human behavior in social situations and the way that we appear to others.” Goffman explains human behavior through the context of theatrical performance (represent!). The book summarizes:
“Each man or woman in everyday social intercourse presents themselves and their activities to others, attempts to guide and control the impressions others form of them, and employs certain techniques in order to sustain their performance, in the manner of an actor presenting a character to an audience.”
Mr. Goffman seems to know what’s crack-a-lackin’! Goffman has a quote that’s so true in today’s age. He states, “Choose your self-presentations carefully, for what starts out as a mask may become your face.” Goffman be dropping truth bombs!
So, I can’t really say that I want to be an actor. I already am an actor! Yes, I go on auditions. And yes, most of them don’t work out. But don’t we all go out on auditions on a daily basis? We all want to make a good impression, so we put our best foot forward, whether that be for our boss, our mentor, our teachers, or our parents. Teenagers are some of the best actors out there! (though they can never truly fool their parents, that’s for sure)
“Ah, yes, Pat! Life’s a stage! We’ve heard these clichés many a time already! What point are you trying to make?” Well…’tis true, my liege. Life is a stage and never has it ever been truer than today. There is a reason why we call them social media platforms. We put ourselves on platforms. We like to be seen. We like to be noticed. Actors and theater people get a lot of crap for this, but it’s just the same as for anyone else. Why else would we put controversial political statuses on Facebook and Twitter? We want the attention! Why is Instagram littered with gym selfies? Or kale salads? Because people want to be recognized for their healthy exercise and eating habits. And, naturally, they wouldn’t mind an, “OMG!! You look so freakin’ amazing!! That butt!! STOP! Lol :D”
I’m not pursuing acting. Acting is human nature. Sure, I’m auditioning for plays that take place on a stage in a theater (or not). Though, those of you who know me know that I think theater, at its strongest, takes place outside of a conventional theater. Theater, as its understood, is simply a representation of reality in a creative form. At least that’s how it should be, in my opinion.
Lewis Howes, a reputable author, entrepreneur and host of the widely popular podcast The School of Greatness, recently came out with a new book titled The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives. I haven’t read this book yet, but I should definitely inquire with Santa about getting it. This sounds like it is the epitome of Goffman’s work, especially nowadays!
I can write thousands of posts about how men feel like they need to “perform” in today’s culture. With consistent pressure to be what society deems as “tough” and a devastating amount of sexual assault cases being brought to the forefront, men need to play a different character ASAP, because the misogynist, ego-driven maniac isn’t doing anyone any good. Remember what Goffman said, “Choose your self-presentations carefully, for what starts out as a mask may become your face.” My hope is that Howes’s book does not disappoint in this realm of striving for more healthy, positive behavior of men in today’s world, though a lot of work sure needs to be done.
So, how do we change our “performances?” How can we avoid getting caught up in the “performances” of our friends on Facebook? That’s how we build an audience after all. I mean, that’s what I’m doing with this blog! But my hope is that we can engage in civil dialogue. We can share our opinions openly, without discrimination from others. We need to boost our Aretha! (R-E-S-P…you know the rest!) Just give each other “propers”, as she says. Just a little bit. It’s so simple. And yet, it seems to be so difficult for many.
Like Goffman, I believe we can use theatrical performance to analyze our behavior and strive for a conscious effort to connect more with one another. As enticing as someone’s performance may be on their social media platform, we must connect with the “actors” who are presently on our “stage.” If we don’t do this, we will retreat to our phones and watch other “shows” all the while missing our cue to enter stage left.
What are your thoughts? Comment below!