To Invert the Social Lens?

Regarding my tag line at the top of my page; it came up during one of my many discussions with my wife. We were chatting about the reasons why I write, what drives my desire. I tried to tackle the range of reasons; I like to create characters and worlds, I love words, I want to leave an impact on the world, etc. But in seriously considering the root of these, and many more, reasons, I stumbled upon the phrase to invert the social lens.

So, just what do I mean by inverting the social lens?

I find that our lives are, by and large, governed by a lens of pretense that is thrown up all around us. The pretense that we are safe in our neighborhoods because others will protect us. The pretense that our politicians are really working for our benefit. The pretense that the wealthy are deserving of the good they have and that the poor are deserving of the bad. The pretense that the pretty people, the successful people, the popular people; are all happy and devoid of troubles.

I define ‘pretense’ as the lies we accept to make it through the day. That if we work hard enough for that Fortune 500 company, one day we too will be successful. Even if that means we don’t get to be with our families, raise our children, and have no time to ourselves. That if we buy the right products and sell the right image, we’ll be accepted for who we really are. Pretense is what drives the modern world. And arguably, what is driving us to extinction.

So, to me, inverting the social lens means to shine a light on that pretense and burn it away. To cast the lies we sell aside and see the real person standing behind. To face the light so that we might be accepted for who we are because of who we are. Does that mean that everyone will love us? God no. But we will be loved by some for the right reasons, not loved by many for the wrong.

As an example, think of how many popular and beloved celebrities were cast aside and demonized for hidden behaviors in the past few years. People that were looked up to, praised, and beloved by many for their virtues or talents. Only to be cut down from those pedestals in an instant. We are so starved for truth that we gladly believe the virtuous lie, even if only for a moment. And we have fallen so far that we will ardently hold onto undeserved faith in people, even in the absence of any validating reason. Just look at our voting patterns.

We, as a species, have become so mired in pretense that we are factually killing ourselves to maintain the image of living. We have become cruel in the mask of kindness and callous in the mask of caring. And when donning the mask becomes more important than the face it shields, the life it veils…what virtue is left? What point is there in living?

I write in order to strip the mask and reveal the life behind. I write to invert that social lens of pretense and bring light upon what is real and true and worthy. I write to reveal you to yourself.

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