Different Roles

February 16, 2003

Human Comm

People have many different roles they play in their daily lives. Personally, I play many roles that include roommate, boyfriend, student, son, sibling and friend, just to name a few. I act different and perform as a different character in each one of these roles. For instance, I act all sweet and cuddly around my girlfriend, but I would not act the same around my parents or roommate. They would think I was weirdo for kissing and hugging them like I do to my girlfriend. When I am in class, I have to watch what I say, I try to use words that make me sound smarter and always try to say the best thing on topic. When I am around my family or friends, I don’t have that burden of making sure I don’t sound stupid. My friends are not assessing me on my actions like a teacher would. Personally, acting different is somewhat of a comfort issue to me at times. I feel more comfortable acting a certain way in different everyday settings by putting on different “masks.”

Every person more or less lives a public existence throughout his or her life. The “reflected or looking glass self” is what people think of themselves in their public appearance and how they are perceived. The three principle elements of the “reflected or looking glass self” are the imagination of our appearance to the other person, the imagination of his judgment of that appearance and some self-feeling. I do not know exactly what other people think of me, but I can kind of gauge what they think of me by their reactions and gestures.

Humans are always seeking recognition, which in turn makes us these stage actors in a way. We act certain ways for a reason. People lead a dual existence, with a private and public life. We have the life we want to live, by expressing ourselves and acting simply. We also have this other life were we need to act proper and appropriate to a certain occasion and control impulses. A young child does not worry what people think of him. The child screams and yells until he gets what he wants in a candy store. I would not do this because screaming and yelling would not be a social norm for someone my age to do in a candy store. This creates a constant conflict within us. If I was eating dinner at my girlfriend’s house and there was one piece of pizza left, I would have an impulse to grab the piece because I was still hungry. In an effort to act like a gentlemen and polite, I offer the piece to someone else. Being a gentleman is what I want to be as my ‘truer self.’ I put on this gentleman mask whenever I am around my girlfriend or her parents as a sophisticated performance like in theater. This gentlemen mask comes off when I am around my family or friends because I don’t have to worry about making the proper impression. A role identity is someone’s imaginary view of himself, as they like to think of themselves as being. There are two main senses of identity in relation to the self. The first being social identity and the second being personal identity. The social identity deals with masks and acting like a certain character around someone. The personal identity deals with integrity and role performance. A person has a hierarchy of role identities. Identities can change from moment to moment in accordance with the performance.

Self is sometimes revealed by moral decisions. Certain needs or pressures may make someone do something in a certain line of conduct. I may chose to do something that is morally right or wrong according to what my everyday audience might think of me. I want to make sure I am not inconsistent with the sort of person I like to think of myself as being. If I found a hat on the sidewalk, I might think it was ok to take it. What would my family think if I didn’t return it to a lost and found? Would they look down on me? I would decide