Home About Me House of Lies: An Analysis of The Multiple Lives We Lead

House of Lies: An Analysis of The Multiple Lives We Lead

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The world is a stage, and we are the actors. Everyone has a role to play in this story, and a script to follow. But life is the ultimate improv show, so many times we stray away from the given lines and freestyle. Sometimes, we are given a role to play, and we may not agree. We will show that we are cut out for the lead role, not just a cameo. I thought about this and began to realize that if life’s a stage, then everyone follows multiple scripts.  This made think of the new Showtime original series, House of Lies.

Charming, fast talking Marty Kaan and his crack team of MBA-toting management consultants are playing America’s 1 percent for everything they’ve got. They put the con in consulting as they charm smug, unsuspecting corporate fat cats into closing huge deals, and spending a fortune for their services. Twisting the facts, spinning the numbers, and spouting just enough business school jargon to dazzle the clients, there’s no end to what this crew won’t do to and for each other, while laughing all the way to the bank.  Watching this great show made me think of all the swindles and acts we put on daily, whether intended or subconsciously. Are we all living in individual houses of lies? What makes us lead different lives in our interactions with people?

In all aspects of our life, we are cast in different roles. I think about a normal day in my life, and I feel like I have multiple personalities. There’s the work me, who is professional, articulate, and restrained whole retaining a modicum of my “real personality.” There’s the family me, who confides and shows loves for his blood relatives; the ones that I grew up with, who know my Haitian name (which I will never reveal lol) and have seen me at my best and worst. There’s the friend version of me, who is a combination between family and professional me, depending on our relationship. I would probably talk about different stuff with friends versus family, and have the free reign to do all types of hoodrat things without fear of judgment. You have the relationship version of me who shows focused interest in my woman, who knows when to pick and choose battles, who is full of love, support, and rationale, and who puts more pressure on her goal than an English Premiere league football club. You also have the online persona, who writes blogs, comments on world events, and has little sense at times, but will have you in tears!

In outlining all that, I wonder is my life a lie? Am I just living life by the rules that best suit me and playing whatever part is needed for me to succeed? Who is the real me? They say that there is a time and place for everything, so maybe I have a sense I decorum for given situations. I also makes me wonder how many other personalities I harbor in my mind. For that matter, how many do other people carry with them.

As you get to know someone and friends become business partners, teammates, or even lovers, you see the lines start to blur. You can tell that the multiple lives people lead are more like segmented parts of their personality. They put on a “show” for the different circles they inhabit. When you interact with different groups of people, you learn to adopt the customs and rules of communication. At work, you may use technical terms that those unfamiliar with your field may not recognize. At home, you may use a totally different type of slang than around anyone else.

The other item to consider is the resistance to have your different social circles collide. Some people don’t want coworkers to know anything about their personal life. You have no desire to let your work self and your social self be known as the same person. We build invisible walls and treat our personal life as our secret identity. We wear a mask at work and don’t want to reveal ourselves for fear of blurred lines of social interaction. I know that I joke and say crazy things with friends that I might not want to say around coworkers, and vice versa. This is why most bloggers with day jobs have aliases. You spend at least a third of your day at work, around your coworkers. You want to keep certain parts of your life to yourself, which forces us to be different people at different times. You may not even want certain groups or organizations with which you affiliate to interact with other social groups, just so that you have escapes. Social media has sliced degrees of separation into fractions, so its difficult to keep those social lines distinct.

We follow codes of conduct within our personal and professional circles. These codes may require us to act differently, or in an “accepted” way, but it doesn’t make us fake. We are different individuals, depending on what we want to show others. Some situations call for us to change, others we choose.  It’s intriguing to watch daily interactions and realize that we have multiple personalities, all controlled by the environments we inhabit. The question remains, does this make us fake, or tactful?

Do you have multiple lives? How do you separate your different social circles? What are the advantages and disagvantages?

StreetZ

Comment(34)

  1. The question remains, does this make us fake, or tactful?

    On average, it is the latter. It is simply not practical to show the exact same face to everyone who comes your way. Engaging in horse play that may otherwise bring you joy could lead you to a series of unemployment cheques if done during work hours. Society demands differing levels of etiquette as we navigate our way through different groups and settings, and it's something that any wise individual takes into account before making the necessary adjustments.

    That said, there are people who are consciously deceitful and consistently paint an image of themselves they know to be wholly inaccurate. And then there are times when regular joes skirt the line, saying things that are not lies, but crafting them in such a way as to give an impression other than what is.

    How do you separate your different social circles? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

    For the most part, I engage people in one-on-ones. I like it that way, because I'm generally in control of who I see and with what frequency. When I was younger, I yearned to have a "crew". When I got one, I wasn't able to keep up with all the things I was expected to attend, etc. I do have some mini-groups that are generally kept separate because I don't feel as though they would mesh too well. One advantage is that they can bring out different sides of you that are equally enjoyable. A disadvantage is that it could be an issue when you're trying to plan a "big" event. However, the people I roll with know how to act and have a good time, so things tend to work out.

    1. Great comment…as usual.

      I agree with everything that you said. I don't think that type of behavior is fake, unless the person is intentionally trying to be deceitful.

      You're right about crews too. They can be overrated. We can learn so much about one another when we interact one-on-one. I definitely prefer that over large grow discussions…but I will admit that they have their advantages also. It's all about determining the purpose of the discussion and what we are trying to take away from our encounters.
      My recent post Eight Deadly Sins of Women

      1. Indeed. Group activities and discussions definitely have their benefits, and I've enjoyed having a mini-crew this school year. However, once we're on the outside, I'm back to preferring one-on-one hangouts.

  2. Awww you’re Haitian! That makes me like you more lol.

    You’re right, we all have different personas, I’ve tried to be a little better abt letting my authentic self shine through in all areas of my though. I like myself so much better that way.

  3. First…I keep hearing about this show. I'm definitely going to have to make sure I check it out soon.

    I can't speak for everyone else, but I know I have the tendency to alter my behavior when I'm around certain people. I feel that ultimately I'm being myself, it's just that I'm revealing different aspects of myself to different people. Some people see more than others, but I'm not doing it to be deceptive. It's just that I don't believe that everyone needs to see or know every aspect of/about me. I would prefer to only have a small group of people know a substantial amount about me.
    My recent post Eight Deadly Sins of Women

      1. It wasn't written for Don, he was just casted in the role. He's just a great actor, he can play pretty much any role given to him.

        1. If you mean the boy that plays his son I think it's pretty interesting what they did with his character. At first I didn't know what to make of it. I'm sure there are many young boys who may be just like him and don't know how to express it, especially at such a young age. A good conversation piece for anyone with a child who may be going through something similar.

  4. This reminds me of one of my Howard professor's (Wade Boykin) Triple Quandary Theory. I stay separating my shyt. A lot of people have been tricked into keeping it real. The downside of that is that you, through your behavior and words, lock yourself into a box. If you sit back and shut up, you can present the you that works best for the situation. It doesn't mean you are being fake. It means you are being smart and exposing part of your true self. The rest of your self remains and comes out to play when it suits you best.

  5. Sak Pase!

    To answer the initial question, I think it's moreso a case of displaying different facets of one's collective personality over having multiple personalities. There's a time and a place for everything. You just have to know when to show the part of yourself that will be recieved best in that environment.

    I myself have several (non-familial) social circles. I still hang out with my group of friends from my childhood. I have two different social circles of people that I met and grew close to while in college and then I have another social circle of people I've met post college. It's not hard to separate these circles as these people don't live in the same areas or even frequent the same places for the most part.
    My recent post Catharsis.

    1. The advantages of having multiple social circles is of course being able to bounce the same idea off of multiple people and in turn recieving different responses. There's never a shortage of people who want to hang out. Sometimes you'll want to hit up the local bar for happy hour, or sometimes you want to take in a play or check out an art museum.

      A couple disadvantages are having to keep up with people. Facebook aids with this greatly, but it can be a bit of a task to keep events, birthdays, and such in order. Also, another disadvantage could be having to split your time between circles. It's cool when you're able to find a couple people to chill with, but what happens when you have mutliple invites to go to different things? Who do you kick it with at that point?

      My recent post Catharsis.

      1. That Facebook, Twitter, blog world does complicate matters, doesnt it? Then if youve moved around, you have different groups of people in different states and countries. OMG, then don’t add an active “secret” life with cubs and swingers. Wait till you run into somebody from your regular life at a sex party. Talk about your colliding worlds.

        I have three internet personas. Two mix, one doesn’t. It gets interesting! But for Gemini, this is all very natural. People can’t handle every facet of you, so you spare them.

  6. I looooove House of Lies…..just the previews before it aired and them playing that We Got Big Balls song made me very curious to see what it was about….Don Cheadle is "the man" when it comes to acting. He is one of my favorite actors.
    We all definitely to a certain degree have "multiple personalities." More aptly put everyone has various facets to their personality. We are all multi-faceted people. The bad thing is that this is what makes up so complex and hard to deal with sometimes in our relationships. We all have some bad and some good in us…..it's just a matter of how you control them and which one over-rules the other.
    I don't have multiple lives per se, however I do have a variety of facets to my personality, like everyone else.

  7. Thought provoking post Streetz.

    The question remains, does this make us fake, or tactful? It depends. I would consider it tactful only if the part of you that is displayed is truly you. I would consider it fake if you are acting a certain way only to fit in.

    I do not have multiple lives. That sounds stressful. I have the luxury of being myself at work and at play. That said, there are certain moods I won't share with everyone. However as far as my personality, I am pretty consistent. I respect consistency over an obvious fake any day.

  8. I totally relate to Marty in this show, for obvious reasons… this is just what I do for a living. I think that for me, I have multiple personalities, but they all have a silver lining. At work, i'm a completely different person than I am outside of work and for good reason. I am at work, i'm not trying to make any statements about my character, i'm trying to make money, i'm trying to make partner. Whether the person outside of work is the same as the one on the inside is irrelevant. When I go to work before I walk in the door, I always take a deep breath and I get "in-mode."

    1. When I step outside of work, or i'm on gchat at work, you get the other side of me. The one who is much more loose and laid back. I'm almost never serious outside of work. Most of my friends are astonished when I actually say something professional because they are like, "We always wondered how you worked where you do cause you seem nothing like those people." But I am, I just don't carry it over to when I go home.

      In terms of blogging, Dr. J is very different than Jackson. That goes without saying and I don't really need to explain it because the people who know me, personally, fully understand that, and that's why there are two separate entities of Dr. Jay and Jax.

  9. I think its almost necessary to have “multiple personalities”. If someone met the “work me” and then saw the “sister me” (how I act when I’m with my siblings) they would def think I’m bipolar. At work I keep it private & professional and when I’m with my siblings (who are also my bffs) I act silly/crazy, which is a side only they see. When I’m with my friends I act totally different than the “work and sister me” because there is no one I trust 100% aside from my siblings so they can’t get the raw Princess. It makes sense becuase they are all me, just in different doses. I could never have facebook because I couldnt have my family, friends & co-workers checking my statuses. They would all be like ‘who IS this girl?’ Depending on my mood that day. I have totally seperate friend groups and I prefer it that way. I’ve tried to blend them and it didnt work. My “bougie” friends dont like my “hood” friends and vice versa. I can adapt in any situation because I don’t believe I have to “keep it real”. Whatever setting I’m in is the real me, its just the part of me that I’m allowing you to see.

  10. I'm always myself…just the lite version sometimes, lol. I just think folks that don't know you well can't pick up on the "you" thats always on. They can't read your faces…or ancipate the witty, snappy retorts rolling around in your mind at different times. You can't let everyone or anyone see "you"…they wouldn't know what to do with it…or appreciate it.

    I have several circles but most overlap in some way shape or form. So I hang with folks in small groups then everybody ends up at the same big functions. For example, growing up in church, there were several groups of families. I hang out with those families separately…but the church fam, as a whole, ends up at a lot of events together (weddings, funerals, children's parties, etc.). The disadvantage is that its a job to maintain a lot of relationships…but the advantage is that I can see and spend QT with a lot of people by attending one function and staying the whole time.

  11. Streetz you must be a mind-reader because I just had this exact conversation last night. One of my friends low-key called me ghetto because there are times when I'm just chillin and I get a little…street (no pun). To quote he said, "you're no Tasha Mack but you're no Principal Grier either" and I said "You should see me at work."
    At work, I'm definitely the person who's pleasant, can make small talk and pg jokes but I don't let anyone in the professional setting get to close. Its just unnecessary. And I don't feel fake at all, because that side of me is real, its just not who I am 24/7.
    When I was younger I found it hard because I had a few different circles (friends, family, work, school, etc) that I felt I had to be a certain way around but now I've been able to reach a peaceful balance by retreating a bit. Nothing worse than having all those different sides to you and feeling like you have to always be "on".

  12. Worlds be merging.

    I'm not too much different at work than I am outside of it. I still make a lot of jokes, etc. Just not as raunch. People at work also don't know anything about my writing pursuits other than the fact I write. So basically, I try to be as consistent as possible. And one of my goals is to never work somewhere that makes me live inconsistently. Hence the hustle to shed the day gig and just be the one me…completely.

    Random thought. I find it interesting watching how people comment on different blogs. Some people go to one site and leave a proper comment then go to another and they're completely hood. People lead more lives online than they do in real life. Fact.
    My recent post In a City Where the Struggle Is Real

    1. "So basically, I try to be as consistent as possible."

      Ditto. I am not outspoken online and then suddenly mouse-ish when at work. I will challenge any manager or executive if I feel the need to. Politely and professionally, of course, but nonetheless. People know me to be silly at school and work, but I get serious when necessary. I always shake my head when I see people justifying completely different (i.e. bipolar) personalities, or being adamant that their online presence should be seen as a character being played, rather than an extension of their personality. I damn sure called out some guy I used to talk to (not in the dating sense) more than a few times for being a complete asshole on a forum we both frequented, and eventually cut him off. I'm an advocate of presenting a fairly accurate representation of yourself. That, and non-assholishness.

      As for the different types of comment – it's sometimes another case of what an environment encourages. Same as being hood with friends one grew up with and preppy with new ones made in college.

    2. I wish I could shed my day gig and just be one me too Slim.
      I think you should go into comedy Slim. You and Streetz crack me up sometimes.

  13. Love this! I can honestly admit that my work life is completely different than my personal life. Like someone mentioned above I go to work to get paid so i act accordingly. However in my personal life i'm much more blunt, witty and laid back. I don't take life serious but i take work serious. Its how I eat so I bring my A game always. When I was younger someone (really don't remember who) taught me the importance of "positive fronting". I don't think it equates to being phony but smart. Hell if I said half of the things I say to friends and family to my co workers i'm sure there would be some feelings hurt and a pink slip on my desk.
    My recent post Charlotte Black Butterfly Single – Sonshine, Words & Ms. Channer

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