Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Quality of Doubleness

We also have a backstage—the part of our experience that is not on public display and which we seek to keep private. The process of hiding our backstage processes and only showing our front stage is what Goffman calls “mystification,” meaning, let’s say, that the host likes to clean the sink, vacuum the stairs and wipe the finger prints off the doorjamb before the guest arrives. Arriving, we say, “Wow, your house is beautiful! I wish mine was this clean,” as if we believe that their home always looks spotless. As if we do not also clean our homes when we have company. We seek to mystify, and we allow ourselves to be mystified by others.

Our backstage is like a wait station at a fancy restaurant. It is like the slaughterhouse from which neatly wrapped steaks emerge for the grocery shelves. It is like the dressing room where the…

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