Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg talking about the imagined private him in the Social Network film
If you get to know anyone, closely, you realize that the public persona is very different from the person. Myself included. We acted shocked when celebrities have break-ups, affairs, commit crimes and get drunk but it’s really a game of childish peek-a-boo. Of course we know that people do these things. We do them ourselves. We have enough drama within our own social circles. It is as if there is this illusion we must sustain in language to keep the horrifying reality at bay. I am constantly struck by the benign hypocrisy of humanity. We say what we want to be and are what are. When the illusion is broken we somehow consider it newsworthy, like a child surprised at a face it saw two seconds ago.
I’m sure this has been covered in philosophy, but I find it striking. The distance between social reality and personal reality. Take Facebook, for example, everything looks fine between everyone. It’s not. Between families and friends, there are seething animal spirits that we only rarely give voice to, usually in condemnation. In later generations it has become OK to talk about sex, homosexuality, drinking, drugs, etc, but still not in certain contexts. On many social levels, it simply isn’t acknowledged that these things exist.
Get to know anyone close enough, however, and you’ll see their dark side. If you want to call it that. The insecurities, the cruelties, the mess we don’t present. I think the most obvious example of this dichotomy is Vogue vs. US Weekly. In one magazine you can see stars primped and treated with literary kid gloves, given maybe a ceremonial snap. In US Weekly, however, you can see the same stars without makeup, sleeping with the babysitter. This is true of all of our lives. The only thing that separates the public from the private is a thin layer of pants, and – seeing as even Aishwariya has to shit – we eventually get caught with them down. I think this is less the truth coming out than one layer of illusion piercing another.