I’ve been obsessed with masks in the past. I mean, not obsessed. That’s taking it a bit far. But I remember the movie, The Mask, with Jim Carry when I was a kid. That was one of my favorites. I still remember Carry talking like Ben Stein in front of the mirror holding up the magical mask. “That’s right, Wendy, we all wear masks, metaphorically speaking.”
Of course it’s true in a way. But I think now our masks are more digital than metaphorical what with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, etc. But the obstruction of our most identifiable characteristics is something our society is obsessed with. The super hero thing is part of that. The concealment of identity by way of a hidden face is something we are fascinated with. I think it’s because lots of people, myself included, would love to leave ourselves behind sometimes. Be someone else.
How iconic is the mask, say, of Darth Vader, or now, Kylo Ren. Star Wars, there’s no doubt, has given us some wonderful masks. As has Marvel and DC Comics.
The construct of a mask, the meaning of a mask is much more ingrained in our society now than it once was. I mean, think of a tool you can use to make people see what YOU want them to see, rather than what you are. Social media is a constant mask or filter others perceive you through, it’s a self tailored image. But it isn’t you. It’s the you you want to be seen. Everyone has guilty pleasures. Mine are fantasy books. I just love a good adventure sometimes. One that’s a real page turner. But I like delving into a real literary tome as well. I usually set up my reading lists so it alternates one pulpy book with one literary, so I don’t get burned out on either.
But then my writing doesn’t reflect this guilty pleasure much. I like to think I’m more literary then fantasy novels. But I’m not, because, to be truly honest, a good fantasy or SF novel is just as literary as a non-genre piece of fiction.
What I’m trying to say is this: Why are we all so eager to convince people we’re someone we aren’t?
You know what’s funny? This whole thing, these blog posts, have been an attempt for you to know me a little bit better, but I don’t get to know you at all. Why is that? What is the construct of a blog–or even the internet in general–that I can pour all my attention into a screen that is an inch, or less, thick and feel fulfilled, as though I am interacting with the larger world. But in truth, I’m just interacting with myself and static material that someone else posted on the internet.
For instance, Yesterday I was at a cool coffee shop–it’s not the best coffee shop for writing, but it is one of the better coffee shops for drinking coffee–and there was a guy sitting next to me on a Microsoft Surface. I think Surfaces are cool. They look sleek and useful, and this guy had his face so close to the screen I thought his nose might bump right into it. But it didn’t.
I think that’s pretty interesting. You know? How we can feel, how this guy felt, as though getting closer to the screen was getting closer to interaction or connection with other people even though he was just increasing the chances of getting boogers on his Surface. You may say, but videos aren’t static, and neither are live webcasts and stuff, but for the most part they are. I mean, take this blog for instance: I’ve used it as a way to try and get to know you, but really all you know about ME is that I was once dyslexic (or am dyslexic) and a girl in my second grade class made fun of me for it. And I don’t know anything about you! And the second grade thing and my dyslexia, if you met me in real life, I wouldn’t even talk about because it feels as though it (dyslexia) doesn’t effect my everyday life anymore. So, what gives?
Well, I think there are two reasons people enjoy the internet so much–third space is what I like to call it–because the first space is mental. It’s in your head, the second space is physical, it’s where you are, and the third space is digital. Third space is unique like your head, because there’s always something new there, but it’s more identifiable as knew, unlike your mind, because a lot of the time people think being bored means there’s nothing going on of interest in their own heads, which is just preposterous. If you wait and just sit there and think for a bit you’d find that the first space, head space, is just as interesting and active as the physical space and digital space. But the truth, I think, is that most people don’t like what they find in their own heads, and that’s why you don’t see people waiting for the bus, or eating lunch, or walking down the street without headphones in, or looking at their phones, or reading a magazine or newspaper. And I don’t think this helps anybody, because, at what point does the head space need to be acknowledged and address?
What I’m trying to say is this: When people find their lives on pause, they seek interaction from anyone and anything except their own minds, and I think that’s sad.