Guest Post by my friend @toxic_lunch
Part 1: nosce te ipsum (Know thyself)
“The Suda, a 10th Century encyclopedia of Greek Knowledge, says: ‘the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are,’ and that ‘know thyself’ is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude.”
-excerpt taken from Wikipedia.
The Greeks always seem to have an answer for everything don’t they? “Know thyself” stands proudly beside other timeless gems of good advice as “the early bird gets the worm,” and “wipe your butt so it wont rot.” As usual with good advice, we don’t follow it, and what should be a simple and fun process, such as creating your online persona, can turn into a catastrophic series of events that end with you exiled from your hopes and dreams. (Not to mention your social circles.)
So before you turn yourself into a social pariah, like I was want to do several years ago, take into consideration the following: Is this really who I am?
Several years ago I began bloging to release the anger and frustration that I felt towards the political and social structure of my native Puerto Rico. My goal? To be the one journalist in the Island who spoke the truth, no matter what. The one who would burn the sacred cows of political tyranny and scream in the face of ignorance. I did not want to be respected or admired: I wanted to be feared and hated by those who would blindly follow.
And boy did I get my wish.
Conversations? I would have none of it! Accusations, and screams of collective ignorance dominated my online speech. My desire to destroy those in power led me to attack their victims: the regular Joes who just wanted to survive. I saw them as weaklings. Fools who would gladly jump into the Grand Canyon if they were told to by the political leaders. In time I grew to resent them and made enemies with every person who would cross my path.
I became the very evil I set out to fight.
Why did this happen? How did I lose my way?
I forgot the first rule of harmony: know thyself. Knowing that I wanted to be controversial, I resolved to being an ass to every person who would disagree with me. My want to burn those at the top, led me to set fire to the ones at the bottom. Why? Because I’m a passionate human being, and passions can cause you to lose sight of your target. This simple factor, kept in check, could give me the power and leverage needed with my audience to speak directly to them and touch their hearts and minds, not their emotions. But unbridled, it turned me into nothing more than a common Internet troll.
Eventually I relented, reigning back the the intensity and approaching with a more sober attitude. But the damage was done: I would have to live with the traces of those first experiments at trying to find my voice. But I did, I owned up to them and kept my integrity. Eventually everything turned out alright. I happened upon good people who understood what I wanted to do, and also understood that I was just burning fuel. They where able to see the shining pearl in the mountain of dung that was my persona, and helped me shovel it all off.
I share with you this advice that I recommend you NOT to ignore?
1- Ask yourself: Who am I? Who do I want to be? What do I want to accomplish and how can I do it?
2- Keep your emotions in check
3- Own it
Number three is the most important: no one likes an apologizer! We all make mistakes, but we don’t need to apologize for them forever. We learn and we move on. Owning your mistakes shows that there is maturity and humanity behind the persona on-screen. It also shows that you are an individual willing to travel your own path, not a follower who thinks he/she can.