"To see oursels as others see us"
July 15, 2018 6:23 PM   Subscribe

In those files, as I found from my own Polish dossier, it’s not only a younger half-forgotten self that you meet. It is also an unrecognisable stranger – yourself, as others have seen you. For nearly thirty years, hundreds of thousands of people have been reading their secret police files, the records of surveillance, denunciation and manipulation compiled by the spooks of communist Europe.
posted by Hypatia (5 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
This was very interesting, Thank you.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:34 PM on July 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Remarkable piece. Thank you. One thinks of all our secret selves— constructed by markets and businesses and governments— slowly encrusting whatever remains at the core of personhood.
posted by SandCounty at 9:49 PM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Great article. I was struck by the way the people who grew up in these totalitarian regimes understood informers as both perpetrator and victims of the never ending theatre of dominance and humiliation, whereas the newer generations see informers as simple betrayers.
posted by um at 10:37 PM on July 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

The Polish dossiers on my family members were most probably burned in 1989 - at least three of them definitely had them as passport-holders, but they're not in the available archives. I find myself more comfortable with that than discovering just what conversations my grandparents had to have to take so many foreign trips for work...
posted by I claim sanctuary at 6:58 AM on July 16, 2018

I’ve been thinking of a similar double consciousness / identity made by others’ perceptions of us in the context of social media, and again in the context of systemic bias. Who we are and how others perceive us has always been at odds, as has peoples’ creation of a persona others can view of us, but it feels more pervasive now, with parasocial relationships becoming more common for people with fewer resources to manage the emotional fallout.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:30 PM on July 17, 2018

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