A World of Performance

By Lauren Selman | Bio

past weekend, I was hiking with a couple of co-workers of mine in the
beautiful Grand Canyon National Park. As we were walking, one woman
posed the question, "Is our society changing or is it our awareness
making it look worse?" I didn’t understand what she meant at first, but
as we continued to talk, she was speaking to the concept of perception.
For example, people have been making ‘at home ‘drugs for a quite a long
time, but now that it is known that they are making them, does it make
society worse or just seem worse because we can now see it?
whole questioning session got me thinking about performance, seeming
and, ultimately, responsibility. We live in a world now where we are,
as I see it, disconnected from our actions. Whatever happened to
Newton’s first law, in which every action has an equal and opposite
reaction? Is our disconnection leading us to a time where we cannot

In an attempt to explain this, I am going to tell you a
story about Suzy and Mary. Two young girls. Suzy is upset with Mary and
through this story the actions and reactions adjust according to the
means of communication.

We begin, a long time ago, before computers, before televisions and way before the internet.
doesn’t like Mary. Suzy goes to Mary’s house and tells her that she
doesn’t like her. Then Mary feels bad and then Suzy immediately feels
the impact of her actions. She sees the response of Suzy and Mary
responds to Suzy’s reaction. Similar to when an audience cries and the
actor on stage reacts accordingly. Mary can read her audience (Suzy)
and then, as an effect, be changed. Mary feels what it feels to insult
and doesn’t like the feeling and changes.
Then the time comes
when Mary writes a letter to Suzy about how she doesn’t like her and
Suzy is left at home on her bed thinking about what she did. There is
time before the reaction on Mary’s part occurs because the next day
Mary and Suzy can see each other at school.
Then the time
comes where Mary writes Suzy a text message. Suzy receives it and
writes back. But this time there is no face-to-face contact and there
doesn’t have to be. Suzy feels awful when she gets the message, but she
has time on her side and can cleverly think of a witty comeback or she
can control time and choose to ignore it. Mary has now gained the
ability to filter her audience. She can choose what she wants to effect
Then the time comes where Mary emails Suzy, but under a
different name. This time the CAPITAL letters signify meaning and Suzy
is left confused and hurt. She a) doesn’t know who is against her and
b) can’t face the person. She is disempowered and doesn’t have the
capacity nor the power to prompt a reaction in Mary. She is now even
more removed from her aggressor and Mary is even more removed from the
person she is insulting.

Then the time of myspace and facebook
and other social networks emerges and Mary can PUBLICALLY insult Suzy
and have all of her friends see her bullying Suzy. This, in turn,
creates a group of people who are collectively agreeing with Mary’s
insults and there is absolutely no face-to-face connection or response.
These kind of dynamics are happening in this world of disconnection. We are more and more removed from the ramifications of our actions.
In the world of technology, a 13-year-old girl committed suicide
because of a false profile that was created online. The young women who
created the profile did not intend to have the woman kill herself, but
we are so disconnected from our audiences, from one another, that we
cannot imagine the potential impact of our actions.
As more
and more video games, social networking sites and the like emerge, we
cannot forget about one another. The other HUMAN—our audience. Only
when we feel the impact of our actions on another human being and begin
to restore the sacred connections of humanity will we be able to truly

© 2008 Lauren Selman. All rights reserved.