My wife and I didn’t purposefully set out to manage our reputations so the end result would be a critical mass of reasonable people left with a favorable impression. But it happened.
In recent years, married couple back-and-forth verbal repartee evolved into a semi-public thing. When posted to social media under the heading of “an actual conversation,” they became verbal snapshots of a marriage and have sort of taken on a life of their own.
Him (perusing a menu): “That meatloaf with the ketchup on top looks pretty tasty.”
Her: “Those are not the words that I would use.”
These snippets of real life, combined with the original premise of social media, seemed like a natural fit. After all, social media arose as a vehicle to share your life with friends – to be broadly electronically... social.
Before long, spousal behavioral patterns emerged, and perceptions began to crystallize about the two of us. Her: no nonsense, cut to the chase, solve the problem. Him: logic, common sense, bemused by system foibles. When consumed objectively, these “actual conversations” tend to strike a chord (he said modestly).
Most of them smack of daily, routine, husband/wife inside baseball stuff. Anyone in a long-term relationship can relate. We come across as every couple.
Him (post-nail salon/supermarket split duty, explaining why I opted not to make a third phone call seeking clarity on certain grocery list items): “I didn't want to be the talk of the salon.”
Her: “You’re overestimating how much people care about what you do.”
Our online persona reflects our real lives, but it’s not a direct reflection. Make no mistake, these public facing conversations are curated, cherry-picked, even compiled for an annual year-end lookback “best of.” Like all couples, we have our share of disagreements. We’re just smart enough not to post those. Read: no nonsense (her), common sense (him).
Some, including me, would call that spin, offering a specific particular interpretation, especially a favorable one. These perceptions have the benefit of being true, which, in my experience, is the only foundation upon which spin can stand and prove effective.
If my wife and/or I were consistently mean, rude, or God forbid, dull and boring, but presented ourselves online as the opposite, the chasm between spin and reality would be too great to bridge. If the spin bolsters or matches up with your personality, it works. Otherwise, it’s just a lie.
Perception is reality. You are what people think you are.
Him (on the phone): “They have feta cheese crumbles, bleu cheese crumbles, gorgonzola cheese crumbles. NO goat cheese crumbles.”
Her: “Where are you?”
Him: “Standing before an immense dairy case with cheese as far as the eye can see.”
Her: “You’re in the wrong place.”
Him: “Of course I am.”
It’s safe to say we each benefit from having sufficient personal, professional and societal experience to have an inkling of which conversations will resonate with a broader audience. My entire career has revolved around arranging words in such a fashion that they impact those who consume them. In his homily at our wedding mass 25 years ago this coming winter, I remember casting a side eye glance at the priest as he intoned, “If you know Mike, you know how articulate he can be.”
Gee, thanks, padre.
Who knew our routine conversations would turn out to be a perfect storm of human nature and technology?
Him (Salt-N-Pepa’s 1993 classic ‘Whatta Man’ wafting through the car): “You prolly think about me when you hear this song.”
Her: “What is this song?”
For more “actual conversations,” follow or friend me on Facebook.