Catfishing and The Power of the False Self

January 31, 2013

Catfishing and The Power of the False Self

How large scale can a lie be? In the last few weeks our world has seen two tremendous stories on the affects of falsehood. We have two heros with different stories...and the deep indwelling of a false belief joins the two conversations.

We teach our kids not to lie. Honesty and truthfulness are a mark of character. When we have to cover for ourselves we don’t consider it a lie, just an excuse. Very powerful speeches, blog posts and books have been written on the power of the phrase “I’m Sorry”, but we still don’t say it near enough. We will do anything to get out of a situation we have created at the expense of others and the truth.

We lie because we don’t like what is real. We instead choose to create a false self. I will let you in on a secret (and tell my own story in just a bit).

It never works.

In a more specific way, the influx of social media has invented a new type of falsehood. In the past you could move to a new area and attempt to reinvent yourself, but you had to actually pull it off. With a life lived online we are even encouraged to create the best version of ourselves to put forward. It might be for business, past relationships, finding new relationships or simply building up a different image.

This is part of the life we live now. It is a current reality. Our world encourages the false self to the point in which we convince ourself it is the truth.

The tough piece is to realize when we are being ourselves or when we are creating a false self.

When I started college I made the decision to go to a school where I knew no one. I thought it would be great. I had made some significant life changes during the summer and I felt I would enjoy a completely fresh start. I showed up to school and realized it would be a very different scenario.

The next 12 months were a journey of re-invention. A failed journey.

I see-sawed between versions of who I was. It was awkward. I remember a point in which I felt my false self had completely worked and I had pulled off what I desired to have throughout my entire adolescence. Even though I had reached the high point of my dreams, I was miserable. It wasn’t me.

Our online journeys of creating these false reality's  is equally as flawed. It can consume us as well. Just look at the popular documentary and MTV Show Catfish. Everything eventually comes to the surface.

We can tell tiny fake stories or we can tell big fake stories. They can come back to bite us in tiny ways or big ways. Lies can be discrediting or they can simple be weird.  While we might thought they would help us out they never really do.

For those who follow Christ, scripture opens up this principle for us, especially using the metaphor of “light”. Light allows the truth to be seen, to go into place of former darkness and to show the illumination of the presence of God.

Christ said “I am the way, the truth and the life” in John 14, exposing what is false and testifying to the dramatic and changing power of the presence of God. Christ came bringing grace and truth to our world.

As people of faith we walking daily not only in the assurance of this exposure to truth. We also are exposers ourselves. By our own openness, vulnerability and witness we serve as an example against the false self. When we are comfortable with ourselves, we don’t need the self protective layers of the false life in any part of our existence. We now become bearers of grace and truth to others who are living with the false security the false self brings.

Life is better than what we can come up with on our own.