Identity in the Post-truth Era
Navigating the fluidity of our presence and driven purpose
As society continues to battle with its direction of growth into post-truth it is important to reflect on the influence of emotion and opinion over facts and how we navigate our identity. What things define our core truth, or is there one at all? Perhaps there is only existence or state of being and perception. Perhaps it is things like our profession which is one of the most translucent pieces of identity that we wear on our sleeves. Similar to the way we choose our clothes, the question becomes how easily can I portray myself to the outside world in a way that’s instantaneously palatable and moves me forward in the direction of my choosing? In a post-truth era, we constantly want to project our most ideal truths and desires like an outfit. What does that mean when we are constantly manipulating our appearance or personality in such a two dimensional fashion? Are there things that are sometimes true in the foreground and things that are more consistently true hiding in the background or vice versa? How does the fluidity of our truth make up how we are perceived and able to progress inside societal constraints? Are some fake truths necessary in order to succeed inside the finite confines that are often demanded by both a public and personal image? As our lives become more compartmentalized, it seems to become important for us to know who we want to be at any moment depending on our surroundings. It may be true that you are a woman or a man or transgender and it may also be true that you have a family or love bike riding. These are consistencies that ground us in a shareable identity. We may then treat these types of consistencies as a base from which to promote ourselves to the outside world and navigate our way through the seas of life.
One situation can breed multiple truths based on our own perception. How much does opinion weigh in on the outcome of an individual’s truth or desired circumstance? Neither the opinion you have of yourself, nor the opinion others have of you are indefinitely true or permanently relevant. We struggle as a society with the idea of fluidity in our existence; rules and expectations are harshly defined despite the fact that there are an immeasurable amount of variables each instant. Any misstep or awkward moment somehow becomes seemingly off-course in a system akin to tightly wound, structured chaos. If we mimic the mentality of mass social media in our daily self-assessments and interactions with others, how is that affecting our identity in a post-truth era? The presence of immediate gratification by clicking a button to “like” something or buy something that arrives the next day without leaving the house has undoubtedly made us impatient and sometimes unrealistic. If we are not able to separate the mentality of the habit driven by online culture from daily interactions at a grocery store or in line at the bank, where else are we unable to see the differentiation? It is through this habit that we extend falsehoods: wanting virtual life to be mimicked in reality.
Think of all the ways we can portray ourselves to the world through the filters we choose, Photoshop, and perfectly placed “candid” moments. It is both a privilege and a struggle to have such resources for attaining our idea of our best selves. We should additionally consider it a responsibility to manage this domain with care.
Technology can lead to a false sense of manifested control that breeds unhealthy behaviors. Just the buzz of a phone can cause us to lose our train of thought. Without even thinking it’s as if the wonderment of what it could be or “Who needs what” could potentially be more important than anything existing in the present flesh. Think about how we scour the internet on apps, social media, and web browser searches that have features that allow us to freely probe and submit content. Do we play our own sort of “Big Brother” or are we building a more interconnected world? Is the knee jerk reaction to the “Ding!” of a notification a sign of the importance that has been deeply trained inside of us to exist more fully through our devices?
How does the presence of technology feed into self-identity and perception in our post-truth era? Trying not to care creates an internal opposition that requires energy and focus to maintain like a stretched out rubber band or positive and negative magnets. Acknowledging that we do care, asking why, and then accepting both a negative or positive internal response and moving forward releases this tension and moves us away from the fraudulent release of denial. There is a place of rest when we face issues and occurrences as they really are rather than pretending or wishing they were matched with our inner dialogue. The simple act of being truthful with oneself and one’s current inner perspective assists the resolve. Discomfort in truthfulness is more rational as we are not creating additional tension where there needn’t be any; internal resistance prolongs or increases the stress. These are things to consider for identifying our own truth both in relation to our use of technology and otherwise. Once we are able to be truthful and objective about how we are feeling and why, without placing judgment on the outcomes, we are then better able to have clearer pointed interactions outwardly.
How does the post-truth era play into the oneness and the duality of the self? In other words, how do we reconcile how we are vs. how we want to be and how we are seen vs. how we want to be portrayed? How do we maintain these very separate aspects of our lives in a way that allows us to continue to be rooted in our overarching goals? Staying on track with the “you” that you want to become and how to recognize when you’re getting off track is very important. So is letting yourself off the hook and realigning yourself when you feel you’ve veered off course. Acknowledging that you were wrong about something, felt bad, were anxious, or even laughing, allows you to make peace and move forward rather than trying to deny ever having been anything you didn’t like in all your doings and interactions. Acceptance allows us to simply correct our alignment and move forward and feel good that we have taken the opportunity to stay the course or try again.
What grounds our facts for ourselves internally as individuals? Is it will power when we want to grow in a specific direction, or is it really the room or place we are in on earth or social status? Engagement in social media can also be a defining factor for many people as a reflection of their highest truth and is often a large part of our planning for social and professional development.
It is important to drive our chosen truths through planning and executing consistently, particularly in the constant fluidity of a post-truth era. It is in this era that the importance of disconnecting grows far beyond relaxing or recharging. When we disconnect we allow for unplanned opportunities and important self-discovery. When constantly planning and executing with no release we are blocking the natural energetic progression. When we disconnect we open ourselves up to the opportunity of not controlling.
Our culture demands a bit of hidden arrogance as we always need to know what to plan and how and why in order to meet our desired life goals. Allowing ourselves space to disconnect is necessary, otherwise we may become neurotic and self-obsessed without being fully aware of it. The underlying arrogance that exists in micromanaging, for example, can lead us astray rather than to our destination even with our best intentions at heart. There’s a fine line between being continuously productive and an unhealthy perspective of the human experience. We can benefit from acknowledging that a lack of control exists in our being alongside our free will, similar to a Yin and Yang. Perhaps in some ways we subconsciously attempt to overcompensate for the small amount of our brains that we use consciously vs. the importance of our intrinsic functions. When we work hard and plan then execute accordingly it’s important to counteract that momentum occasionally with a reasonable amount of disconnect or unplanned space to allow for the opportunity of the success we can’t plan or foresee that allows us to grow personally and professionally.
With all the “noise” we have to decipher in our post-truth society from external sources including technology, friends, or colleagues as well as our inner voice, it may be unclear to us at times what is necessary in articulating and actualizing our truth. When we intermittently break ourselves apart to allow the release of energy to move us, opportunities can arise in a way that would be impossible to plan or anticipate. Suddenly a burst of significant creativity that’s been lacking may come to us or perhaps we meet a new contact or potential client inadvertently. At times we need a gentle reminder to allow the plan to work for us in a reciprocal manner. This way when we are in output-mode we allow space for a natural return, or input, which can only happen by disconnecting from our normal routine, changing pace or opening our awareness to the possibility of the universe beyond our direct control. In so doing we can further energize and strengthen our desired truth in the present.