Goffman believes that our self is created in each social situation. When interacting with others, everybody tries to control or guide the impression others may have of them. In life, like in the theatre, there is a front region, where people’s desired impressions are highlighted. There is also a back region of a stage – the situations, in which an individual is not interacting with others and does not need to perform his or her social role.
Cooley (293-295) also focuses on a crucial role of the people we refer to in the creation of our identity. He states that as our thoughts are always influenced by other people, communication is a crucial factor for nomenclature and developed thought. Consequently, the sense of self always involves the reference to other people, either particular-when we refer to an individual, or vague and general when it comprises our sense of social responsibility. Moreover, in many cases, our self-feeling is based on the way we assume it can be perceived and judged by others. For example, if we show anger in front of a calm person, we assume that he or she finds us and quick-tempered and unable to control our own emotions, which will definitely affect our self-esteem (Coley 295).
Coley also states that our body becomes a part of our identity when it has a social function or significance. As we bring our body to social interaction, we become more conscious of it.
I realized the social function of every part of my body belongs to my self when I did the experiment described by Roger-Pol Droit, which involves listening to one’s own voice. I have always been insecure about my voice being recorded as I assumed others found it annoying and disgusting. Thus, my feeling of insecurity was created by thoughts I perceived in imagination in others’ mind.
It was hard for me to believe that I really spoke that way. However, as the Droit’s work explains, everybody sounds just the way they speak. This experiment has allowed me to realize that things are not always as they appear. Thus, perhaps we do not know ourselves as well as we assume and-as Gazzaniga states-we have no control over our self.