Have you ever wished you could excise the worst sides of yourself from your personality as easily as you might have a wart removed?
Ever wished there was the neural equivalent of a plastic surgeon?
“Doctor, I’d like a quick nip and tuck on my Talks Too Much.”
“Doctor, can you give me a reduction on my overdeveloped Propensity To Be Resentful / Competitive / Rude?”
We each have a little bit of Hyde inside us. Those dark and ugly elements of our personality we’d rather others didn’t see but have the inconvenient habit of breaking out at inopportune moments. It’s a pity Dr Jekyll wasn’t successful in creating a formula to remove those unwanted aspects of ourselves. (If he’d been real, of course.)
It’s not that many of us would launch into a murderous rage, breaking the civilised and cultured persona we present to the world but I’m sure all of us have something about us that we’d rather didn’t exist. Perhaps we’re prone to bragging or interrupting people or laughing inappropriately or… There’s a myriad of ways in which we are constantly reminded that we are imperfect beings full of frailties and faults despite our best efforts to present only our Jekyll side to the world.
In an age of increasing online identity, this apparent split in the best and worst sides of ourselves has become even more pronounced.
In our online persona, we can reveal the best of ourselves and hide the worst. It is not that we present a false image of ourselves online but that it is possible to keep the worst of our traits at bay. We can open the door and stand in the glorious light of goodness while we keep the dark and ugly locked in a wardrobe in the back room.
In the real world, that inappropriate response to a question is blurted out before we can think better of it. In the online world, we have the opportunity to think twice (or even thrice) about an answer before hitting the Send button and delete it if we wish before it’s too late.
What does that mean for our ‘online only’ relationships? Do people who only know us through our internet presence have a false idea of who we really are?
Or, in fact, do they get to see our true selves? The person we want to be? The person we know we are inside if only those pesky faults wouldn’t keep spoiling the view for those we meet?
Perhaps it’s why sometimes we find it safer to hide out in the interwebs where we can be the best version of ourselves and pretend the ugly side of our nature doesn’t exist. It’s a safe place to bask in the sun and forget the mistakes that haunt our dreams.
What we need to do is to remind ourselves that our best version does exist even out in the real world, to cut ourselves some slack and to believe that we can be the person we want to be even with our faults and failings. Not always easy (especially if one of your faults is to beat yourself up over every mistake) but better for our wellbeing in the end.
This is the moment
This is the day
When I send all my doubts and demons
On their way
– Jekyll and Hyde (Music by Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse)
Postscript: Ironically, this post originates from one of my worst traits – my constant agonising over every mistake I’ve made and my continual anguish at not being the perfect mother/wife/daughter/friend. My apologies.