Theory - Platonic
Part One

A different theory of self.

Posted by Melissa Devlin on May 23rd, 2023

 Oh bugger. You actually showed up for this one. *rustles imaginary papers* Well at least this is fun. No really. I just don’t exactly have my notes on “Introduction to Communication.” So hopefully the professor whose name I forget has also forgotten me – or at least she doesn’t mind the fact I personalized the theory.

 First though. A question. What is the study of communication?

 Communication theory is essentially trying to figure out how someone, with all the unique, wild, and woolly things that make that individual whom they are, actually manages to fucking get a message, or at least one reasonably close, through to someone else whom is also unique, wild and woolly (Or a mathematician).

 You’re underwhelmed right?

 Do you realize how fucking complicated that is? And what a gigantic umbrella that is? Objects communicate! Particularly toys!

As a child I was given a white blond baby that was soft, easy to carry, sucked it’s thumb and had nice hair. My parents had to find the one black doll they could in Canada. That was in person when they had the chance. There was no online shopping then. The black doll was larger, hard plastic, with seems and very badly inserted hair. My parents tried, really tried. But I didn’t play with it. Not an ounce of hate in my heart and I chose the white doll. How much does the difference in quality communicate to children? How does that build them?

How many subjects did I just span? Diversity, Geography, Marketing, Childhood Development, (History *cough*)… I’m losing count.

 You can justify any study into any field as part of communication. From chit-chat to advanced human computer interaction, neuroscience, genetics, even fucking medicine! Did you know bacteria in your stomach affect your brain? What might that do to how we talk? The world is your oyster. How does physics affect it? I don’t know. I’d have to study it so I could learn how to best communicate it! This is why it is intricate, fascinating, and takes a high degree of complex layered thinking… and it is also the BA people go for if they just want to bullshit their way through college.

 My poor professor. Our final was a group project paper. We divided up which parts and I ended up with the final analysis. Which meant I rewrote the whole fucking thing overnight because, Jesus Christ how did these people pass introductory English which was a college requirement? Let alone having to polish turds. We got a B+.  

 Years later I found out making stupid crap shiny is a useful skill for Social Media work. Indeed, with a degree as all encompassing as communication? I had the one bachelors that can open almost any door (if they care) depending on how well you write your cover letter.

What is Layered Thinking? Approach it this way: You’re given square tiles, divided into two diagonally with a different shade on one side. You’re told to make the most complex shape out of as few as you can. The most obvious is a four point star, right?. But who cares? Complexity isn’t the same as fussy. Layered thinkers toss aside all but two tiles and have a bold, simple acute triangle. Because culturally speaking, from pyramids, to the Pythagorean theorem, to money, and education, it is more meaningful and potent. In comparison the star communicates little. While the triangle challenges us to consider global society.

Why do we care?

 Well this was intro to communication so they started us off easy with the most common theories of personality. IE. What makes you the person you are? That is actually really, really complicated. But they went with three basic overall philosophies we could wiggle our way into learning more about.

 One of them? I don’t remember. At All. Blank. Zip. Zero. (Sorry professor). That said I continued to think about and occasionally study aspects of the other two my entire life. (Does that make up for it?)

 Fortunately for you, dear reader, I merged them. Because they both made sense if they were together and were utter crap apart. So I’m not going to go into too much detail of what they are like separately, I’m going to tell you the theory that emerged from years of thought on the combination of the two.  

 Yes Plato from the grave, I called your theory crap. In fairness it’s more accurate to say it was incomplete, so not bad. And since it was a modernized translation taught on a whiteboard, for all I know there was more to it. My Plato is packed up. If it’s any conciliation, I made a college freshman near pass out when I disagreed with Aristotle as a fifteen year old. (By the way. I still do.) And Plato, your metaphor for your theory is great! Well presented. Very clear. Will recommend.

Even standing alone there can be many dimensions to examine, it is in this way we are more that what others see us as.

Platonic Self  and Social Constructionism

 The short version is Plato questioned if there was a true self, gave a great example of how one would think about it, and theorized there was. This was, for a very long time, a particularly good idea.

 Then some asshole (Or intriguing fellow whose name I forget) Had to go and say, No, No, No. We are multiple selves made up of our roles and how we are perceived while performing these roles. (Try coming up with a good metaphor for that. Ugh. It made me think of what would these days be known as a Karen talking to a manager vs whatever bullshit she did in the PTA and whether or not she still had sex with her husband or was divorced.) The only thing that theory explains is how some arrived at the skewed view, how you seem to others is all that matters.

 Comparatively, Plato’s idea is more thought out and I really think social constructionists had some work to do if they really wanted people to buy in to that idea.

 The idea we are made up of our roles gives me some serious capitalism squick. That’s a whole other rant I don’t feel like having. But while Plato’s is flawed, that one is outright stupid. Want proof? Base human instinct. How many of us have have said “They don’t know the real me?” A hell of a lot of us. That theories coffin is so small it only needs one nail, more might make it fall entirely apart!

What Really Happens

 Having a construct, makes much more sense. We, the essence of us, the platonic self must constantly learn, grow, adapt, change, (Yes perform different roles), hopefully think, and have sex.
Well actually with my sex life? Let’s scrap the last one. I would need to leave the house to get one of those.

 Whom we are is not projected on to us at all. We chose how we live our lives limited by what’s available. It can be passive or active, and there’s one part of your construct. What you care about most. What order of operations works for you. What flexibility we need and don’t. Basically our decisions form a construct around our platonic (true) selves and together we are this thing.  

 Constructionism should only include what others get out of us, or what others think of us as part of how we react (Based on Platonic selves blah blah). It should have little to do what masks we wear to put up with Karens. It should be about what we give to others and how we manage our lives, based on our strongest resource, ourselves (The spirit of whom we are).  

 As an example. I’m English by birth – which is part of whom I am, whether or not it’s useful. It just happened to be the reason why one of the managers at work had me take phone calls for him. We’re very good at apologizing profusely without caring why. Though in one instance, we did give the person being complained about a high five.

 They really could go by two different names, but the other one could just as easily be called role theory, and mine just constructionism and the platonic self. And both be more accurate. So I think the other one should stop fronting.

Yep. It really is, as simple as that.

- Melissa Devlin Communication B.A. (No that doesn’t stand for Bullshit Artists. That’s B.S.)