The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 1
Oscar Wilde’s famous play about the importance of several things, including marriage and morality could be a metaphor for today’s troubles about identity. It’s something I’ve been musing over for a while now. Identity, from Greek – ideo – the same.
In the play Jack’s alter ego, Ernest, allows him to, in today’s parlance, “explore his other side”. Or as Sherry Turkle might say – explore one of his many other identities. Jack’s friend, Algernon Moncrieff, has a fictional but useful ‘friend’ so, like today’s computer users, he expects that there are opportunities to be/explore/befriend ‘an other’. Or, like these two, have an alter ego that allows us to be somewhere or someone else.
It all becomes a bit of a muddle in the play and there are several puns and games around earnestness. And perhaps the women are as silly as the men but everything is sorted in the end.
This, alas, may not happen in today’s computer identity muddles.
OK, I’m exploring a recent experience here. (My 3 regular readers may wish to close their eyes). I recently entered into an online communication. I understood that what was online was a game, (if an intense and long one) but it moved to a different territory when cell phones got involved. So, when we move to another form of technology the game becomes more ‘real’? Or does the addition of voice as opposed to text only make the difference? And yes, I did meet him.
Perhaps, like Cecily, I had already decided how I felt. Perhaps there was some manipulative behaviour. Perhaps we had both built erroneous perceptions of each other. It was all very sweet for a while.
And no we don’t discover that, like Jack/Ernest, he was telling the truth all along. I suspect he’s more like Algernon, a bit of a scali(w)ag. Or, maybe it’s as Turkle says the postmodern world is upon us and identity and truth are relative. And I’d better get used to it.
In truth I don’t know and never will. Which renders real life not at all like a jolly play of manners.
“RL is just one more window, and it’s not usually my best one”. Turkle, Who Am We? 2001.
“I’m the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude”. Robt Downey Jnr in Tropic. In Listener article about Davide Fane: March 7, 2009
Relatedlinks perhaps: http://loveontheworldwideweb.wordpress.com/
PS the title for this is an anagram and if you are keen to contemplate ernestly you may find the answer