Thursday, 3 February 2005

Secrets and lies

Looking through an old New York Times article (reprinted in the Ledger) on the delicate balance between the human need to have secrets and the difficulty of maintaining duplicity:
The ability to hold a secret is fundamental to healthy social development, [psychologists] say, and the desire to sample other identities - to reinvent oneself, to pretend - can last well into adulthood...

"In a very deep sense, you don't have a self unless you have a secret, and we all have moments throughout our lives when we feel we're losing ourselves in our social group, or work or marriage, and it feels good to grab for a secret, or some subterfuge, to reassert our identity as somebody apart," said Dr. Daniel M. Wegner, a professor of psychology at Harvard. He added, "And we are now learning that some people are better at doing this than others."

Wonder what bloggers will make of this? Personally, my online persona isn't necessarily one and the same as my real persona (although I keep a blog that's actually named for myself, which removes one level of secrecy). But the levels to which people can live split lives - both on and offline - can be quite scary:

for more than 10 years, he ruthlessly kept his two identities apart: one lived in a Westchester hamlet and worked in a New York office, and the other operated mainly in clubs, airport bars and brothels...

In the end, it was a harmless computer pop-up advertisement for security software, claiming that his online life was being "continually monitored," that sent this New York real estate developer into a panic and to a therapist.




Yes, it can be scary. I'm reminded of a comment a friend made during a movie (can't remember which one) that you can be with a person for almost your whole life and you think you know that person until he/she does something atypical.


There was also the French guy who lost his job but instead of admitting it to his family simply dressed everyday as though going to work and went through the daily routines.


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