January 10, 2013

Virtual Plane of Existence

The Plane of Existence, by InsidiouslyJake (via)

When you blog or write or are an artist or public figure of any kind, you have a private face and a public face, a public life and a private life. 

The private life is the lived life.  We all have one of those, and it’s so complex and nuanced and challenging and wonderful and horrible, even if some people don’t recognize it or run away from it or whatever.  I take it as a given that everyone has a rich inner life (although apparently some people don’t ~ see SA on HN). 

Depending on the nature of your public life, there are layers.  Even if you aren’t a public figure, you have a life you live out in public ~ at your job, at the grocery store, even among family.  If you are a public figure, you may have people helping you create aspects of your public life. 

I like to think of these different levels as planes of existence.  We live in a physical real world. That’s one.  We have all this stuff going on inside us.  That’s another.  We have a world of words we live in, whether we speak them or someone else or we read them, a plane of pure language.  We live on the internet, a virtual us on the electronic plane.  And there is the us that lives in other people, a sedimentary self.

I was thinking about, when you make the choice to have an online personality, you make the choice to create a you on another plane of existence.  You take your life and you offer it up to (often) complete strangers.  Yes, it is a selfish gesture ~ look at me! ~ but it is also a generous creative gesture.  You’re saying, “Here. Look at my lived experience, my humanity, flawed though it may be.  I offer it to you so that we can connect, you and I but also you with your friends and acquaintances.  I am laying myself bare so that your thoughts and feelings and life is validated by someone else’s experience.”

With all this comes responsibilities and benefits.  Of course you use the people around you ~ artists do that all the time ~ but you need to be responsible in that use.  You don’t betray your family or your job, although that does not mean you leave them out entirely.  You have responsibilities to those who follow you ~ post regularly, do your best, all related to an artists responsibilities.  Benefits, of course, include validation and friendship and finding your tribe. 

And, I like to think, if I make a difference with just one person, made someone feel less alone, I’ve done my job.  I need to be brave and generous and kind.

Here’s to a brave new year of writing!

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