Jekyll And Hyde – Living With The Human Condition

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.

 

 

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70 thoughts on “Jekyll And Hyde – Living With The Human Condition

  1. I’ve always felt as if I’m treading on a very thin line, when it comes to my online life — about not being *too* personal. I have the tendencies to go overboard with “write as you think”. In these close to twenty years I’ve been online, I’ve met two people in real life, from the Web; my now husband and a fellow blogger I met last year. No big surprises there … they were the same as I’d expected and they said the same about me.

    When you get to really know someone online, you’re not affected by looks, voice or anything else [in the beginning] so there are just the bare thoughts. I think it’s good.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s interesting that in trying not to reveal too much of our personal selves, we somehow manage to reveal the very people we are. Perhaps the pared down version we present is the most basic, truest form of ourselves. I’m yet to meet anyone I’ve only known online. I think I would be nervous. Mostly that I’d not be who they were expecting and disappoint them. (I’m a mess of neuroses, really. 🙄 )

      Liked by 1 person

      • There are times when I think I’m even *more* myself online LOL …but then again; that’s me! I read so much about how people present a false image of themselves, especially on Facebook — posting glossy images of their perfect homes, perfect families ‘n stuff like that. That’s never been part of my online identity, besides I’m not very active on FB.

        I was very nervous just before I met, who would later be, my husband. Just about an hour before, it struck me like a bolt of lightning, what a huge disaster it could turn out to be! Thankfully, it didn’t … quite the contrary 😉

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Ooh, so much to say!!! You have provoked many thoughts and responses in my mind…for me, I am only ever honest and true to myself, the person I am, is the person you see, online or in person. I think if someone is trying to present themselves in any other way, they are not happy with who they are. Why else would you purport to be something you’re not?

    When I first met Selma, we’d only ever conversed through our blogs, then via email & texts; we met and went for tea and there was no feeling of not knowing each other because we’d never met in person before, we just fell straight into an easy conversation and our friendship has only ever got stronger.

    I think you can often see people that are playing a game, or out there for themselves, to gain followers or boost a business etc. the people that constantly post a perfect version of a beautiful life and carefully posed photos of themselves, are often covering something, their insecurity shines through 😦

    When you say that you are sometimes even more yourself online, that’s because of the control and comfort blanket that there is, surely? And look at all the friends you have 🙂

    Sorry – I’ll now stop – I can also talk too much!!!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Ooh. Don’t ever apologise for adding to the conversation in however many words it takes. I love it all.

      I think I’ve probably agonised often enough on this blog not to convince anyone that I lead the perfect life. And this is me. It’s just that I’m acutely aware of faults I possess that annoy people I know in person that are a bit easier to rein in online where I have, as you say, control (and the comfort blanket – I love that idea). I think also my natural shyness stops me from saying things I’d like to say in person (like compliments, for example) but I find it much easier to do so online and so I come across as someone like that which I am inside but not in person. If that makes sense. (I’m not sure it does to me. 😀 )

      Liked by 2 people

          • My ex husband was very successful at making me feel bad about being myself; I used to apologise for whatever I said and did constantly. But it was all about his insecurity – he’d be the person filling facebook with his ‘perfect’ existence and stories of how amazing he is!!
            When I met my now husband, of 15 years, I was amazed that he never took issue with anything I said or did, he only ever enabled and encouraged me to be myself, it was a revelation. Maybe that’s the reason why I will only ever be my true honest self, because I’ve had someone try their best to make me be anything but myself in the past?
            Sorry, very philosophical for a Sunday afternoon…
            I do find the hole online/offline behaviour interesting though.
            As they say: be yourself, everyone else is taken 😉

            Liked by 3 people

  3. Oh, yes, I’d love to find that neural removal surgeon! I’m a chronic joiner to the foot-in-mouth club and I’d be the first in line to avoid being that due-paying member anytime! Also very much agree with rebkin who says that meeting online we aren’t influenced by looks, etc. there are just the barest of thoughts…….I think that’s about as core as it gets. The effects of social media are something most interesting to watch and gauge and I’m constantly turning it over in my own mind as well…..is it good? Is it bad? etc. It is a Jekyll and Hyde world much the way we are all Jekylls and Hydes. A most interesting post!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Torrie. I think there is good and bad in social media but it’s often dictated by how you use it (the same could be said of many things in our world). It did occur to me that there are those who seem to use the internet to project the worst side of themselves. The ‘trolls’ as they’re called. At least I hope that’s their worst side. I’m not sure I’d want to meet them if that’s their best side.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is an excellent post – the kind that keeps me from throwing up my hands in despair and returning to my books. See? I am judgmental and intolerant in case you haven’t figured that out already. Many do present a curated version of themselves, I think, for as many reasons as there are bloggers out there. Some want an outlet for their poetry, their photography, their fiction and that’s all you really know of the person. Others enjoy their ravings and perhaps never show their tender side. I do feel I’ve come to know many of my blogging friends in spite of the curation factor — their personalities take shape through their comments more even than their posts, I think.

    Liked by 8 people

    • Judgemental and intolerant? Pfft. Not the Barbara I know.

      Yes, yes, yes, about the comments. That is an excellent point. People often spend time ‘crafting’ their posts but comments tend to be more spontaneous and are therefore more likely to reveal their personalities. Great point. Thanks, Barbara. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • I think this post is worthy of a Freshly Pressed. It is so heartbreakingly accurate for all of us … well except perhaps for certain psychopaths, but we won’t go there.

      Sometimes I think the more sensitive, caring, and emotionally fragile we are, the greater we think our personality defects are.
      … and of course because we are sensitive, caring, and emotionally fragile, we tend to beat ourselves up a lot for those perceived defects.

      I agree with Barbara, I think we all inadvertantly reveal our true selves through our blogs and the comments we leave regardless of how carefully we craft each word …. or maybe even because of it.

      Liked by 3 people

      • …and then we worry that our constantly beating ourselves up about our perceived defects is annoying people. It’s a vicious circle, really.

        I can say that at times I have felt safest interacting with online relationships than out in the real world and somehow I feel more real or true out here in the ether. Something like that. I don’t like to think of it as hiding so much as taking respite from a challenging world.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Actually, since you mentioned it, I feel the same way. It is a respite. It is where I can have a comfortable conversation and take as long as I need to think through my response.
          … and sometimes I get so bogged down in trying to pull the words together, I abandon the conversation with nothing said except a *like* … and I can feel ok about that.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Yes. It’s just like that. 🙂

            Oh, and thank you for that very generous suggestion that this is worthy of a blue sticker. See, I’m really not good at the compliment thing. Giving or receiving. But at least in this environment I get to do a “oh, by the way, I forgot…”. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • I had to read this a couple of times because I didn’t know what a blue sticker was. Duh.

              I get the whole compliment thing too. They’re wonderful and I appreciate them … probably more than I should … but at the same time I’m embarrassed and at a loss for appropriate words.

              Liked by 2 people

  5. Love this post. Putting ourselves out there on social media is a bit of a daunting thing for some people. I think it depends on what we aim to get out of these platforms. Maybe some of us want sympathy and whine about day to day lives online – which is what I see quite a bit on my Facebook feed. Maybe some of us want to show off or spread a bit of cheer around by talking up ourselves and posting happy snaps. Depends on the forum too and who you’re engaging with too, I suppose.

    I personally find it hard to keep up with social media and blogging these days, though. There’s more interesting things happening outside in the city anyway most days.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some people do seem to adopt a rather one-dimensional representation of themselves online. I suspect – in regard to bloggers – they may not last long. It’s too easy for it to become just ‘more of the same’.

      I get torn at times. I can see stuff I want to engage with online but my offline life is busy and fitting it all in becomes challenging. Sometimes, in despair, I do neither and sit in front of the tv for hours instead. Trying to escape, I think. :-/

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love how your mind works….and have very much enjoyed this post and the comments it has elicited. One of my favorite gurus, Tich Nhant Hanh says we have all kinds of seeds in us, from past generations and from our own experience, good seeds and not so good ones. We cannot kill them off, but we can choose to water the good seeds so they grow and choke the bad ones out. Sorry, I don’t seem to be sorry about anything at the moment. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • I have found that even when one does one’s best to leave the bad seeds unwatered, some, in the nature of weeds everywhere, can still thrive and make themselves known. One can spend a lifetime of wasted effort re-pulling and re-poisoning, or one can learn to accept some particularly stubborn sorts of weeds as part of the price of having a garden, and concentrate on doing the best one can with the more productive and beautiful plants.

      It took me a couple of decades to figure that out, and to quit beating myself up for being a bad gardener.

      Liked by 3 people

      • This is an excellent addition to the theme, Babe. Who would notice a few persistent weeds if the rest of the garden was full of beautiful, bright flowers and majestic, sheltering trees? Okay, I need to invest in some good quality mental compost.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I will always remember six words that a former Pastor spoke to the congregation: “We are all messy, imperfect people.” There is no one that is perfect, except in their own mind. I try very hard to represent most of myself online, except that I want to keep MJM and Facebook a mostly positive place for everyone to visit, plus I don’t want to insult anyone (that’s my co-dependent side, always wanting to please others). It’s a difficult line sometimes, especially when I want to rant about injustices or drag people into my poor-me bitterness on those poor-me and hormonal days. I am much like you, Heather, that I tend to rag on myself about mistakes and question myself in some of the actions or non-actions that I take. And when I get really angry, I can really rage. Thankfully, those moments are usually when I’m alone, but I’ve been known to swear under my breath at work when I get overwhelmed. I will never forget the day, while going through my divorce, that I stormed into my boss’s office after a very frustrating call with the ex. I slammed the door behind me and when my boss asked me what was wrong, I blurted out “That F***ing A**hole!” Yup, I did. To this day, I wish I could take it back even though my boss gave me a hug at that moment and was the most supportive and caring person through the entire ordeal. See, Heather? We ARE messy, imperfect people. We need to cut ourselves more slack and be kind to our own human soul without giving ourselves a huge ego.

    I see you as a kind, caring, smart, multi-talented wife, mother and human being who sends total strangers TimTams in the mail. Let the piddly doubts, questions and regrets float by. Send the messy, imperfect person to the curb for awhile and enjoy the special person that you are.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I’ll confess I actually read this very late last night before I was going to bed but I was a bit too weepy after reading it to respond.

      Thank you, M-J. Not much more I can say than that. Except that I didn’t send TimTams to a total stranger. I sent them to a friend I just haven’t clapped eyes on yet. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Actually, I think too many people let their Hyde side out when on line, either that or there are some pretty scary people out there! On line bullies, people who use the Internet and social media to purposefully hurt as many people as they can, people who spread viciousness. If this is there best side, I’d hate to see the bad side 😉 But yes, for the most part I let my good side out. There are only a very few people I’ve let into my personal world yet are still 100% online. I hope so at least. I think they know me pretty well, good and bad. Anyway, interesting topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This aspect occurred to me after I’d written the post. I considered adding this dimension in but decided against it. I personally don’t understand such people so I couldn’t possibly think of a reason they would act the way they do. I can’t imagine what their ‘real’ lives are like to make them think it’s okay to behave in that way. I’d prefer not to think about it, honestly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I understand. I like to think the best of people. With some that’s not easy;) I think I’ll go back and read a few more of those blogs that are based on the premise, “I’m having a hard time in my life. here is how I’m coping. I hope I can help at least one person by writing this stuff down.” After reading the virtual-vomit some of the others put out, it restores my faith in humanity that someone having a rough time actually thinks about helping others.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. I had to read this twice. And the comments. I’m not used to seeing your serious side and I hadn’t realised that you are a very shy person. I see you as a very open person, kind, warm, funny, hysterically so at times (and yes more so in your comments than perhaps in your posts) determined, driven, even obsessive in some things and a very caring mother. So you see one of my many faults is not paying enough attention! Things just drift past me and then I jerk awake and go “Eh? What?” I rarely write personal posts, but I do let out a lot about the real me through my comments. I also can’t help butting in on other peoples’ conversations as I am a sticky beak curious, but I hope that I come across as friendly and approachable and not too much of the ‘no-it-all’.

    Stop stressing H, you are as perfect as anyone is and probably a lot more so than many and I truly believe that if you are yourself on the net then there is a huge welcoming community out there. And when you read all your comments you will see that most of us are already here 😀

    Liked by 4 people

    • “Heather has lost a lot of her shyness as the year has progressed and her ultra-serious attitude to things.” That is what my teacher wrote on my report at the end of Grade 4. She had told my mother early in the year that her aim for me that year was to get me to laugh in class.

      I’ve learned to overcome my natural shyness but it still takes effort. Social occasions with large numbers of people I don’t know where I am expected to mingle can be exhausting (and still daunting).

      I guess in some ways, that is one area where I am different in my online persona than my real world persona. The words I want to say come a whole lot easier through my fingers on the keyboard than they do through my mouth. You’d probably find me not nearly as funny in person. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      • We probably WOULD find you as funny, because you would probably find out that you find yourself as funny with US. The ice has been broken, to some extent. That initial crippling shyness cannot last as long. Impossible.

        Plus, we are just more direct-ish sorts of people (like a scary Aspie Army of the Damned: ooo-OOO-ooo). We would comMUNicate:

        “Jeez, this is awkward.”
        “So, what are we going to talk about, anyway?”
        “Cr#p, I don’t know–You’re supposed to be the smart one. Uh… Okay. Tell me about the first time you (pick one):

        – smoked,
        – moved away from home,
        – traded a child for a better-behaved neighbor’s child.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Your “scary Aspie Army of the Damned” made me laugh like anything. (Actually, I think it was the ooo-OOO-ooo after it that made me lose it completely.)

          Having not yet gone through the process of transferring a purely online friendship into a personal one, this awaits to be seen but you make a lot of sense. Hilarious sense which is so much better than common sense. Common sense is so….well…common.

          Oh. Now I actually WANT to have that conversation….

          Liked by 1 person

  10. We all have traits we see as not very commendable in ourselves, but I bet if we asked a friend, they wouldn’t have noticed any of them. You’re probably worrying too much. This is a very thoughtful post and should be published elsewhere so others can read it.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Seems to me that telling one’s online friends about one’s worst characteristics should be the way to go, H. I can’t think how often I’ve confessed to being intolerant, impatient and unprepared to put up with anything I don’t relate closely to. Sorry: anything to which I do not relate closely …
    The trouble is, people don’t believe you when you say things like that. Regardless of how true they may be.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. H I read the post twice and the comments through. I’m with Joanne. Freshly Pressed material. So very thought provoking. The one advantage of getting older is I don’t beat myself up so much anymore. I’m an extreme extrovert so if I had a dollar for every time I have stuck my foot, ankle calf and half a thigh down my throat, well I would be on a constant round the world trip. Learning to forgive ourselves as we would others takes time.
    I imagine everyone sitting down at their blog comes with different ideas as to how much they should share. It took me quite a few years to get to the keyboard. When i did I decided the only way I could write would be as I talk. Poor readers but at least they can log off of my site. 🙂
    I would also add that until my kids were grown and I had time for myself, things looked much, much different. I put out so much energy in my kids teen years I thought my eyeballs would fly across the room incessantly. It was tough work.
    So sending hugs and letting you know I really loved this post. Be easy on yourself. My kids favorite stories are from when I lost my mind and chased boyfriends down the street screaming obscenities and such memorable parenting moments such as these. Yup we are all human. Xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gosh, Sue, thank you for your comment. It has been enormously helpful and encouraging. (Well, maybe not the visual of you with most of your leg stuck down your throat. Thanks for that.) It’s good to know there’s a fair chance I’ll come out the other side of this stage of life reasonably intact.
      And thank you for the compliment about the post. I’ve been surprised by the response. I really was just letting out the thoughts that had been swirling around my head as my feet pounded around the river. But it would be disingenuous of me to deny it pleases me that it has spoken to others. 🙂

      Like

  13. Heather, you write an excellent blog and I am astonished that you have so many uncertainties for such an accomplished person.
    I would love to meet up with you one day, as I really like your honesty and I’m sure you are being too hard on yourself. I agree with Sue, above; as you age you will become more accepting of any foibles and accept that you are human too! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barbara, I’ve spent all of my life feeling like I am constantly making things up as I go along so I do live in a perpetual fear of being found out for the fraud I feel I am in whatever endeavour I take on. I often feel that if I dared to say to myself “I am really good at this thing”, I would very quickly earn a comeuppance to prove otherwise. Why that is, I have no idea. It’s just always been that way.

      I think a meeting should definitely be on the cards given we live in the same state! Let’s work on that. 🙂

      Thank you for your lovely comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Reblogged this on Mary J Melange and commented:
    As promised in my last post, I will be reblogging posts from the lovely blogger friends that came to comment on the “What the Heck” post. First up: MOSY, the Master from Australia. Her post is food for thought for all of us. Please take a gander and feel free to comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oooh. don’t get me started. I own laughing inappropriately and have become more than a little disinhibited in speaking my mind as I’ve gotten older. One of my (younger) colleagues calls me Mad Max.

    The funny thing about the Blogosphere, though, is that we do reveal ourselves, as much as we try to hide away.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Never knew that Jekyll and Hyde had been turned into a musical. The video is really powerful in underlining the issue you are addressing with your words – our shadow side and how we try to “manage” it. C.G. Jung talked about the “shadow” that we all possess, those aspects of ourselves we try to hide, don’t acknowledge, and project onto other people instead. One of the major tasks of midlife is confronting our own shadow and making peace with it. Only by confronting our shadow can we come into our true and full selfhood. As Hyde said, you can’t kill me without killing yourself….
    I am often tempted to bring my struggles to my blog but when they involve other people, I usually keep them in my personal journal instead. When I am really struggling with something, I can’t blog about something pretty and uplifting either, I have to move through it first. And, yet, when I do write about something difficult that people can emotionally relate to, I get a much larger response from readers….I think many of us are looking for true substance rather than pretty facades.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It came out as a recording before it was ever staged. I waited patiently for it to arrive in a theatre here but it never did. But I’ve just found out it’s coming later this year!

      I think people are looking for real connections and that really only happens when we talk about real things. The light and fluffy soufflé posts are great for picking us up and making us feel good but I think if you had to eat soufflé every day, you’d get hungry.

      Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Good post, the subject always troubles me. I fear that as person A irritates me and person B bores me, then what on earth am I doing to person C and D that sends them barmy. With blogs I tend to comment on my related experience instead of the blog… I am trying to address that. I’m not so troubled about the internet personality, since I find I have so many roles already (mother, bank manager’s wife, sculptor, scientist, writer) one more is just part of life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • But surely relating the topic to your own experiences is what an ongoing discussion is all about? Or do I only think that because I have the same habit? Hm. Well, I don’t mind if you share your experiences on my blog, anyway.
      That’s probably a good way of looking at one’s internet presence – as just another hat one wears along with all the others. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Do I Really Want To “Meet The Blogger”? | Master of Something I'm Yet To Discover

  19. This was, as everyone said, and felt, a wonderful post. My own few cents are that, we, in this corner of the WP blogosphere, are wise enough to anticipate and accommodate, and welcome, three-dimensional humans when we meet them.

    Putting aside issues of filth, body odor, or nose-picking (how disappointing would it be to learn your favorite blogger preferred to excavate while sitting across from you, sipping coffee?),

    there are only a few off-putting personality traits which don’t come across online that would severely surprise many online pals and dismay most:

    – compulsive interrupting
    – constant cursing
    – chronic complaining
    – monologuing/floor-hogging

    Anywhere from 1 to 4 of these apply to me at different times. Thus, some of those online who think me okay would circle the block to avoid me in person. Uncomfortable, but a feeling I am almost used to.

    Besides self-pity, my point is that one doesn’t need to be actively trying to be hiding one’s true self to be presenting an online self that is RADICALLY different from the fleshy version.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your final paragraph: Yes.

      This holds true for me also but in my case I think it has to do with being able to so much better communicate by writing than by speaking. I’ve lost count of how many occasions I have driven home from an event resisting the urge to bang my head on the steering wheel because of the stupid things I said or the things I didn’t say that I should have. I have lengthy conversations with myself in the car when I replay conversations as they should have gone sometimes even years after they have been and gone.

      Maybe I could pretend to permanently lose my voice and start carrying around a tablet to communicate…..

      Liked by 1 person

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