Bachelor on the Wall—Feeling Seen and Making a Scene

Perception and Consciousness at the Inception of Our Identity-Awareness

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If you’ve ever watched The Bachelor reality television dating series, you know that the key to winning the affections of the belle or beau who is on trial, as it were, is to make the protagonist feel seen.  No matter the panoply of accents and ethnicity on offer, the theme of The Bachelor, as with real life or essay writing, is about standing out from the crowd.  Being unique and noticeable, even occasionally for the wrong reasons, is a ticket the attention of any suitor: be it an instructor with reams of essays to mark or a would-be lover swiping quickly through dating profiles.  Swipe right, swipe right!

Practical exigencies take a back seat on the Bachelor because there’s a larger prize on offer: true love and a lifetime of satiety for heart and mind.  Indeed, geography and beliefs often take a back seat to the untrammelled efficacy of love itself.  This attitude that the ends justifies the means may explain the hoi polloi derogatorily referring to a diploma as merely a worthless sheet of paper!

The ideal way to be seen is in a manner that reflects our most caring and compassionate ways.  What we don’t want is to present ourselves in a manner that imperils our image such that we will, in life or in class, be tuned out.  The moral of the story in culture and in education is that while we want to say what we mean and mean what we say it all adds up to zilch if no one’s listening.  For this reason, the stress and misery of debating with strangers on the internet, glomming on to one activistic impulse after another, is the height of inanity in our times.

So let’s harken back, way back, to activist days of yore: the anti-war era of 1960s California, Berkeley, California: tie dye T-shirts, pavements lined with cannabis, and a long history of protest against The Man, The Establishment, and The Patriarchy.  Berkeley is also the origin of the punk rock band, Green Day, whose early hit song summarized the perplexity and stupefaction facing the eternal youth movement of students with hitherto-unspotted minds: “my Mother says to get a job, but she don’t like the one she’s got.”  Feeling nameless, faceless, and ignored is the essence of alienation to be sure.  No amount of personalized avatars or snazzy photo filters can change the nature of identity within industrial modernity; even our most authentic self is, in the end, mapped algorithmically onto a business chart deciding what ads we see.  Yet, if we go further back a few more centuries, we uncover a whole other way of seeing ourselves and the sight-unseen reality by which our identity is forged.

The philosopher George Berkeley (1685-1783 CE) gave a fortune-cookie slogan to all whom know that to win at life, and love, and maybe even at cosmic salvation (or at least lava lamp grooviness in the eyes of others), we must make an impression such that the substance of our being stands out from others.  “To be is to be perceived”, Berkeley said.  When it comes to the confidence to meet new people, or in the case of The Bachelor do so on television while sequestered, jury-duty style, amidst dozens of our same-gendered cohort all competing for the same prize, being perceived really is everything.  While in daily life even the most gregarious among us know that there’s in impenetrable safety in anonymity – in airports, for instance, or when standing in line at a grocery store and trying to not slow down proceedings, on The Bachelor and when life matters most what’s crucial is the part of us that makes a real impression.

Of course, not all impressions are created equal.  When I was in Grade 4, parental advisory committees in my erstwhile homeland of BC’s Fraser Valley expressed consternation at the initial season of The Simpsons: what kind of example did brat child Bart set when he enjoined authority figures to “eat my shorts!” And what about his Dad Homer’s burgeoning waistline concomitant with the Grand Canyon impression his posterior left on the sofa cushion? Neither impression was universally well-received, demonstrating that being seen invokes different translations of what this or that presentation actually looks like.

Like watching an AI version of the Grand Canyon evolving its groove deeper and deeper right before our eyes, real-life perceptions we make on others can unleash devastating consequences.  This is especially true online where Marie Antoinette’s line “after us, the deluge” seems to have been taken literally by everyone, as one issue after another focuses a laser needle point of attention sufficient to burn a hole through one public figure after another.  What a bummer!

Whenever little things seem blown out of proportion, it behooves us to remember that each day is a new opportunity to put our best self—our best effort—forward, as we seek to present a case for our humanity and our morality.  Staircase wit, l’erspirit descalier, can lead us down a treacherous road of wont and worry, as we perceive and reprieve and reconsider ourselves as we appear in the eyes of others.  Yet in the end, unlike at a rose ceremony on The Bachelor, our journey isn’t at an end based on the judgment of one interlocutor, one lover, or even one distance education tutor.  There’s always tomorrow and for that we can be grateful, no matter our marks in the moment!


Berekeley, G.  ‘esse is percipiRetrieved from