… theories of the self and identity have long recognized the tension between the real and the pose. While so often attributed to social media, such status-posturing performance — “success theater” — is fundamental to the existence of identity.
These theories also share an understanding that people in Western society are generally uncomfortable admitting that who they are might be partly, or perhaps deeply, structured and performed. To be a “poser” is an insult; instead common wisdom is “be true to yourself,” which assumes there is a truth of your self. Digital-austerity discourse has tapped into this deep, subconscious modern tension, and brings to it the false hope that unplugging can bring catharsis.
The best theory we have is that laughter occurs in the wake of experiencing a “benign violation,” which means that we laugh when we experience something that is initially frightening or unexpected, but turns out to be safe.
Part of the value of a humanistic education has to do with a consciousness of, and a familiarity with, the limits that you’ll spend the rest of your life talking about and pushing against. So it’s probably natural for college students to be a little ironic, a little unsettled.
Just as I believe in blaming capitalism for the financial situation of those on welfare, I believe in blaming the age we live in for why I am so annoying.
Growing up, I didn’t read novels by women. It’s not that I didn’t want to. It’s almost like I didn’t think that I needed to or, I guess, I didn’t know that I needed to. I was perfectly happy in a world contained by men. I adopted the posture of the brooding male as my own. I was Salinger, I was Kerouac, I was any male protagonist in a novel that one of my boyfriends recommended. I didn’t know that there was a specific female sadness so I was content with relating to a generalized one. And in a way, reading these novels was less of a way to relate and more of a way to learn how to be the type of girl that these male novelists liked. One of my first ambitions wasn’t to be a writer – it was to be a writer’s muse.