stories we tell others, stories we tell ourselves

kgrass's picture

 While watching an episode of the television show “Community” over the weekend, there was a portion of the episode that reminded me of concepts we are talking about in this class. Here is the link to the scene, just watch the first minute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUI4klkNMOs Jeff, the main character, is having a conversation with his friend Abed, who is an “unusual” person. Abed is trying to be more “normal”, but Jeff tells Abed that there is no such thing as normal, and there is no “right” way to act. In fact,   Jeff tells Abed that the way we act is just lying to others, and that much of the lying we do is actually to ourselves. This struck me as an interesting concept, and how we have been talking about how others create a story of you that are different from your own story of you. Is there a “right” story of you, however? Is it possible that someone can know yourself better than you do? There are times when we try to justify our actions, or rationalize them in our heads so that we feel better about them. But how often do we lie to ourselves to make us feel better about something? The story of yourself that you make up may actually be just as accurate as someone else’s view of you. There is no correct story because we are the most biased when viewing ourselves. 

            This concept of lying to ourselves shows up at the beginning of Adaptation, where Charlie is telling himself all of the ways he will improve his life and how he plans on changing. He says “today is the first day of my life, I should really do this now”. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t actively change, and he realizes we won’t attempt to change. He says “stop lying to yourself”. A common theme that seems to be appearing is that in people’s attempt to change drastically, they end up not doing anything at all. Charlie is looking to do something new and exciting, but doesn’t get anywhere, while Donald goes with what he wants to do and is successful. Stone has the same dilemma. He wants to do something new, and in that process of searching for “new”, he just makes himself stuck. Maybe it isn’t about doing something that’s new to society, but something that is new for yourself.  

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cwalker's picture

Stories that explain us

It is interesting that you thought of the concept of "right" stories after seeing the film Adaptation. For some reason that same concept of the film triggered a similar theory, but one that is often encountered in anthropology and sociology. Current anthropologists and sociologists have opted to use a type of investigation called embedded anthropology, this means that the anthropologists is as active participant in the topic or field they are investigating. By having an active role in the field they are able to give a more holistic interpretation of the field. ---Now you ask, how is this relevant to the "right" story, well this anthropological method surged from the understanding that the previous methods failed to get the "whole" picture of what was happening. The previous methods of anthropology only solely used interviews to make their conclusions, but interviews are based on what people think of themselves, their society, and what those things mean. People interpret their actions and state what their actions are, but anthropologists realized that, that their real actions are not always the same as what they say they do. In other words what they say isn't their "real" self, but rather how they interpret themselves. Anthropologists then stated that what people do is their "real" self, and thus the embedded anthropologist was born.  So which of these two represents the true self? Truth is, that I really do not know, I hope that how I see myself and describe myself is how I actually portray myself to the rest of the world, but let us be realistic that is highly unlikely. So I have opted to believe that the "true" self is not what we describe ourselves to be or what other see us as, but rather the union of those two, there will never be a definitive answer, which is fine because we are fluid, we cannot be defined as one "true" way.

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