There is a certain way that we must act.
A certain way that we must carry our social profiles: Twitter bios, facebook about me’s, taglines that define us on other social platforms must neatly spell out our professional designations and job titles. We can’t say ‘outer space vertigo’ if the space asks for location, nor can we say ‘stargazing and spitting on walls to make stars of my own’ if a website (the initial concoction of which was someone else’s insane idea of bringing people to publish their lives online) asks us to list my interests. We mask our fetishes with carefully selected retweets, hiding behind other people’s ideas we wish we had gone around selling like hot cakes. At conferences we suit up not just to look like academics, but expecting meticulously tailored sober clothes to deepen our voices and sharpen our wrinkles to help us appear a tad bit geeky, a tad bit ambitious, and also a tad bit this and that.
But we don’t have the audacity to showcase the part of us that wants to scream.
Our personality is a huge fiasco – we tame ourselves more than we allow our mojo to scream. It is professional, it is articulate and sophisticated, it is all that we need to be in order to be accepted at serious forums around the world, and look more academic and poised, sometimes reflecting deeply on the perils of our generation. But it’s also destructive and it’s unreal. We stomp the very energy that teaches us to shine through and express a natural burst of energy when felt. Whether it’s a gesture we want to contain or a comment we want to restrain in a gathering of intellectuals, every time we silence it, it kick starts an identity crisis so profound we have trouble getting our act together.
Why can’t we wear what we like to a conference (which type of conference? well, there are none for nincompoops). Why can’t we say what comes to our mind? Why not wave our arms a little more fervently at the end of a conference, or spread the smile an inch longer when launching a book (especially one that works better than a Xanax when fate shifts it burdens to our narrow shoulders.
We celebrate foreign success. Did you say no? Let me know where you got your new iPhone for free. Yes, we pay to celebrate for rejoicing in someone else’s bizarre idea of putting a smartphone on people’s wrists. It starts as crazy, they say, and ends up as logically fit to be pervasive. Technology was never meant to be this rampant, social media wasn’t part of the MDGs, but it happened because someone went out on a limb. No, not in his university, as part of his assignment but really on his own time and expense. Maybe if you’d spent 10,000 hours (Gladwell, 2009?) on something you had always liked and believed in, you’d be on forbe’s list of billionaires, or on BBCs list of influential women.
It makes me lousy in the head when I know I can sweat out a kick-ass write-up on what the state action on education reform is, but I can’t and I won’t because I’m not cultured to be the stand-out I was meant to be. Cynical, much? Welcome, self-deprecation 101. It’s easier to blame and complain, they say. What to do? Shout out the next time you know you have a query, don’t say OH NEXT TIME, there isn’t any.
The light at the end of the tunnel is still out – the lamppost is looking for fuel.