Can you see the real me?

It’s a natural human condition to attempt to manifest yourself as a better, and more attractive person than you actually are, but what’s the benefit of creating an elaborate facade when the truth will inevitably reveal itself? This mindset of creating an altered persona, or avatar, is extremely prevalent on social media and dating apps, yet surely it’s counter productive if you’re attempting to be something you’re not if you are already known, or wanting to be known. So many people use Snapchat filters to completely alter their physical appearance, then they become unrecognisable in person. What is the thinking behind this action?

“Most users of social media have experienced catfishing (which cats hate), senseless rejection, being belittled or ignored, outright sadism, or all of the above, and worse” – Jaron Lanier

Some people take a step beyond this and create a whole different character, and this is known as catfishing. This is an extremely deceptive tactic which is often used to attempt to gain financial advantages, scams, bullying, blackmail, explore their sexuality in anonymity, or to stalk/troll their chosen victim. Whether it’s someone living out a fantasy, or portraying themselves as more desirable than they truly are, often the victim is taken in as they are enjoying the attention they are receiving. The perpetrator may just be lonely and self-conscious and by creating another persona they are getting more attention than they would in the real world, but many people have a more sinister motive with psychopathic tendencies. Most people assume that a psychopath is a violent person, but there are other signs of psychopathological behaviour, and these tend to be a lack of empathy and remorse, vindictive and self-serving, antisocial or manipulative behaviour.

The potential for anonymity loosens up social and moral codes. This means the need to be a certain way to fit into society seems distant, freeing up mental space to explore the dimmer, darker bits of our personalities without fearing stigma.” – Source

Face to face most people reach a judgement quite quickly whether someone is being genuine, and you can read people by their body language, but when you’re at the other end of an electronic device to the other person, it’s impossible to read signals and body language. If someone seems too good to be true then they probably are and you are wise to trust your instincts. If you’re with someone you have to portray your image relative to who you really are as it’s extremely difficult to pretend to be someone else, but being online behind a level of anonymity, people are able to craft themselves to be more appealing to the victim. They may empathise with you, be sympathetic, or claim to share the same interests as you in an attempt to lower your guard and persuade you to begin to trust them. You know you’re being catfished when the person is reluctant to reveal themselves in a video call, or they aren’t fond of the idea of meeting in person. Many will use reverse psychology and will over emphasise their alleged loyalty and honesty, and will play on your heart strings with a traumatic life event which has left them in financial ruin. As soon as the subject of money arises, you’re being played. Trust your intuition!

The quest for truth

We live in an age where there’s a lot of cynicism towards media outlets, governments, and organisations that have a large influence regarding information and how it’s shared. Depending on the source, you could come across conflicting information, and if several sources make the same claim then it’s natural to be inclined to take the information as fact or knowledge. Oxford dictionary defines truth as being that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. This is where the study of theology has left me full of doubt, as religion isn’t absolute and it’s subjective and relative to a person’s perspective or personal beliefs.

“Truth is certainly a branch of morality and a very important one to society.” – Thomas Jefferson

If you look at the root word for truth it’ll lead you to the Latin word veritas, who was the goddess of truth and the daughter of Saturn, and the Greek equivalent was Aletheia, and in Ancient Greece, philosophers used the word ἀλήθεια to mean that which is not hidden; the truth. The quest for truth was the biggest theme that the ancient philosophers debated. According to Plato the truth is objective, and is without bias and independent from subjective perceptions, opinions and unjustifiable beliefs.

“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The issue with objective truth is knowledge, and is the knowledge accurate. Not too long ago people believed that the Sun rotated around the Earth and we lived in a geocentric solar system, until the Polish born mathematician and astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, corrected this and the beginning of the Copernican Revolution was born and scientists accepted that the Earth and the other planets revolves around the Sun.

In science, the purpose is to gather facts, and understand reality using doubt and scepticism, and no scientific theory is ever once and for all put to bed as new evidence is always ready to be discovered. Despite this, science and it’s relation to objectivity is about discovering a collective understanding, that’s not influenced by outside interference. When a scientific theory is established it’s often presented to a scientific journal where it’s peer reviewed by neutral scientists and they attempt to dissect it to to reach the same conclusion, or prove their doubt, and enforce the objectivity of the scientific method. Yet the truth can only be established if the evidence is substantial, and to prove something is incredibly difficult. So if people find it difficult to obtain the truth, then why do the majority of the world’s population surround their lives with the idea of a creator and an all knowing god, when there’s no objective truth?

Is love a mental disorder?

When a person falls in love, very often it consumes them and makes them irrational and spontaneous. It can even cause depression that is known as love-sickness when they are apart from the person they love, and this can cause sleep deprivation and loss of appetite. Scientists who have studied the chemical changes in the brain of people who’ve recently fallen in love have compared it to the state of euphoria that you experience from taking amphetamines, and symptoms similar to obsessive compulsive disorders.

Serotonin, which is known as the ‘happy chemical’ that’s responsible for your wellbeing is lowered when in love, just like someone suffering with a mental disorder like depression, or anxiety. Not knowing the whereabouts of your partner can invoke negative emotions like jealousy, anxiety and can make a normally sensible person take risks and make illogical decisions, and your cognitive abilities are significantly affected.

“One is very crazy when in love” – Sigmund Freud

Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD) is a condition where one partner becomes obsessive and becomes controlling of them as though they were a possession rather than a life partner. This condition makes the person irrational as they have an overwhelming love and desire for their partner, or someone they love even if the love isn’t returned. When sufferers of OLD face rejection they can become tormentors and bombard the other person with texts, emails and phone calls.

When love dies and couples separate often hatred can be as intense as the initial love between partners. I can attest to this as I’m personally going through a divorce, and my wife has become quite despicable and I’m not far from the feeling of hatred as she’s made my life extremely difficult over the last few months. For someone to be deeply in love and then to reach a form of resentment for the person can only be described as a form of mental impairment. Being in love is akin to an addiction and just like taking addictive drugs, love induces the release of Dopamine in the brain. Perception becomes distorted and you tend to see only the good and avoid the warning signs, which gives the phrase ‘love is blind’ some credibility. As well as Dopamine, the brain also releases the neurochemicals, Phenylethylamine and Norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is responsible for the production of adrenaline which leads to physical attributes like sweaty palms, racing heart, butterflies in the stomach, and Phenylethylamine gives you the feelings of euphoria, joy and excitement by increasing the amount of Dopamine produced by the brain.

If the feeling of love becomes too intense a person can develop erotomania, which is a form of delusional disorder where someone believes that someone is in love with them when they’re not, and might not even know the person exists. Many people who suffer from erotomania also suffer from bipolar or schizophrenia, and their mind makes them believe that the person they desire is also infatuated with them.

“Omnis amans amens ~ Every lover is crazy” – Roman proverb