Are We Capable of Losing Our Masks?

An image is not “just another lie.” The reality is far more complex and best elucidated by a stream of consciousness rambling.

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I have my share of detractors on social media. Redditors by and large loathe me as I regularly post Medium articles on their site and my contributions equate to spamming. Guilty as charged, I guess, though what I choose to post there is a means to engage a conversation, not to encourage enmity.

Thing is, I post on Reddit under my own name, when to my eyes 90% or more (please, readers, correct me if I’m wrong on the percentage) post anonymously.

I have nothing to hide. Posting behind an avatar, or a literal mask, is easy but I’ve long ago come to the realization that you can’t please everybody.

Still, for all intents I do wear a mask on social media. I wear the self-indulgent one, where I stand allegedly fully exposed trying to convince the world, and myself … that I’m not affecting a damn thing.

Social media aside, do you wear a mask in your day-to-day? When do you remove it … if ever?

My contention is we all wear masks, from the most open among us to the most reserved.

My approach to writing, my livelihood, is to be scrupulously honest. I encourage all writers to be the same. Readers recognize liars and besides, what’s the point? I expose a great deal of myself in my work and it’s personally therapeutic … as well as respectful to those who give enough of a damn to patronize me.

But, if you delve deeper, for the most part I’m safely anonymous behind a computer for the majority of my day. Many writers who make a living at the craft can say the same. When I speak at film festivals and literary conferences, which I do often, I know I’m one of those people a paid crowd comes to listen to for advice. I have to be engaging and entertaining while telling the truth.

It’s time to get out of the shell, and out of the comfort zone.

Any way you slice it, I put on a new mask. I preach honesty and yet … I’m performing.

A mask represents security, a shelter. We all have our share of insecurities, whether we wear them on our sleeve or we keep them better hidden.

A newscaster who appears on camera, who has sworn to tell the truth to his or her viewers, performs. The mask is the outfit, or the hairstyle. Or the delivery. The television news lives and dies on its ratings.

The current President of the United States is a performer (and has been long before his “rallies”). Bill Clinton “never had sex with that woman.” Richard Nixon was “not a crook.”

Religious icons wear masks, and not just the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakkers, and Jimmy Swaggarts of the world. Men of the cloth who abuse children despite their robes. Those who sin while preaching the gospel of Jesus.

Liars, cheats, cons.

Those good professional politicians and men of God too, though. It’s awfully tough to get people to listen to you without degree of stage presence.

Do you believe everyone is the same on-stage as off? I don’t. I used to be a school teacher working with at-risk children and adults. The same thing applies.

Parents and many of those same teachers who got drunk or stoned at week’s end as a release for being so utterly professional during the preceding five school days used to tell their kids to “be role models.”

As to those kids? Setting examples is never easy.

Entertainers maintain carefully crafted images. Meet an entertainer with their guard down you just may be surprised at how different they are.

Images are not lies. They are tools.

Those who where uniforms. Ditto.

But let’s take a look at us. Average people. Day laborers. Creative artists. Normals. Those decent people reading this who spend substantial time on social media. (Want to look good on social media? It’s not all that difficult.)

We may be good, well-meaning and moral people. Some of us may even insist, “What you see is what you get.”

Poppycock.

Everyone wears masks. Everyone is a master or mistress of multiple faces, depending on the circumstance.

Why is Halloween so popular?

Human beings learn behaviors early on. If children want food, they may be good to their parents. Good grades? They may become studious and develop a reputation in the classroom of being quite serious. Yet, when home, the guard is down and acting a fool is de rigueur.

Bullies? Cowards, in truth. Two faces.

We all wear masks. We are incapable of losing one without quickly putting on another. Masks are metaphorical and they are literal.

If we did not wear masks we could not survive.

Once more, a man who strives to be scrupulously honest but nonetheless wears masks like everyone else wrote this article. Not a one of us is different than any other in that regard. I suppose we wear masks when sleeping too, as the subconscious works in mysterious ways and our occasionally twisted and ever-diverse dreams must be influenced by our inconsistent natures.

Right? What else could it possibly be?

We remove our masks altogether and we cease to exist?

Perhaps. So please, let’s be sensitive to one another’s needs in the meantime, as life is far too short.

I’m done for now. Yet another mask beckons.

Thank you for reading.

If you have found this article of value, feel free to recommend, share and follow me here on Medium (and I will follow you back), where I publish new stories daily on a variety of topics.

Written by

Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.

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