Stepping across the line

One of the powerful things about diagramming things like I did a few hours ago, is realizing what a short trip across the line it is to consolidate both “philosophical” (ethical) notions of a central self and “rhetorical” (role-playing) selves. One of the points that Lanham makes is that electronic communication makes it possible for both central and social self to coexist more easily. I suspect the same is true of the philosophical and rhetorical selves. This thought bubble was the result of AKMA’s blog on identity and Stavros’ reply.

I empathize deeply with both positions. I don’t use a pseudonym, but I often write in different “personalities.” They are all merely aspects of the total me. My first reaction always is to consider hiding a mistake, for much the same reasons as AKMA does. I think it erodes the perception of sincerity (I’m still deeply engrained with CBS). However, I’m not so attached to the idea that real world presence is uniquely tied to body in the usual sense. Body is also the root of concepts of privacy, and as such is deeply a part of the more abstract, etherial concept of rhetorical self. Philosophical self stands naked and public, while rhetorical self maintains privacy behind devices like pseudonym and anonymity. Both coexist in every person. In the “onion” conception of self (from the Speech-Communications field), philosophical self is the last part we chose to reveal socially— we save it for those we love.

What seems unique about blogging to me is that it is simultaneously public and private. I control what my page says; it is outside of public or social control and hence private. I say this mostly because I do not blog for validation (though it is nice sometimes) but instead to clarify my own thoughts on whatever topic strikes me at the moment through writing. I can’t be private to the degree that other people are about my thoughts; it’s just an aspect of my personality (in virtually all my multivalent selves) to say what I’m thinking. Conceptually, I try to live in a constant state of love. I can respect those who feel safer by concealing identity, but I don’t really feel the need for the safety that they do. However, in a concrete sense, the mass-confusion of the social rhetorical self is a truer picture of who a person really is than the naked philosophical self— there is more information to process in order to construct an interpretive identity.