A Quick Thought on Being Public [en]

[fr] Dans un monde où l'on est des personnages de plus en plus publics, s'adressant simultanément à des publics jadis séparés, on peut pour moi soit se réfugier dans la langue de bois pour ne heurter personne, soit se mettre les gens à dos en leur disant en face des choses qu'on aurait auparavant évité qu'ils entendent, soir jouer de l'équilibrisme en privilégiant l'honnêté exprimée d'une manière qui prend soin des sentiments des autres.

In these days of increasingly overlapping publics, I see three ways in which to deal with the fact that we are all becoming — to some extent — public figures, our multiple faces forced to come together as the publics they’re meant for also do:

  • go all tongue-tied and diplomatic, and dumb down your discourse so nobody can take offence or hear something they shouldn’t;
  • be an asshole, by saying things to people’s faces that one normally would keep for behind their backs;
  • walk the fine line of honesty and respect whilst expressing things in a way that cares for others’ feelings.

The third way, clearly, is the most challenging, but probably also the most rewarding from the point of view of personal growth.

4 thoughts on “A Quick Thought on Being Public [en]

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. Another way bullet #2 gets you into trouble isn’t just about being an asshole but about bringing the wrong contexts into the wrong environments where in private they’d be just fine. I think your point #3 is essentially correct but it also requires a surrounding environment conducive to personal growth. Moving beyond the tongue-tied phase is easy enough as long as you can start segmenting which audience/people you care about and which set you can live with being disaffected at you (sorry about this last sentence I’m really sleepy 🙂

  2. Actually, I realised while writing my article (sleepy too!) that I wasn’t as clear as I wanted. The situation I’m thinking of is: what happens when you cannot segment which audience you’re talking with anymore? When your formerly separate publics start overlapping in a significant way? When you’re speaking to your bosses, your friends, your family, your prospective clients, and the stranger down the street — all at the same time?

    This is what happens online, on the public internet.

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