“Back stage” and “front stage” are terms coined by the late (1922-1982) sociologist Erving Goffman in his 1959 book, “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.” Front stage is when we are in the public arena and even when we are being reasonably authentic, we are putting on a performance designed to be appropriate for the role and place we are in. A teacher in front of her students dresses, speaks and acts differently than when at a school football game where she may meet or sit with her students and yet again differently when at home with her partner/lover. And when we are alone, totally alone, we may even go “off stage.”

All the stages are potentially good and appropriate as long as we stay aware that we do not allow context or peer pressure to nudge us into inappropriate or unethical behavior or violate our value system or be untrue to our authentic self. An opening scene from Grease comes to mind: Olivia Newton John, having met John Travolta over the summer (off his normal stage or back stage) meets him again in front of his greaser buddies where he feels compelled to violate his true self (which is very fond of Olivia) and act “On/Front Stage” and disown Olivia Newton John.

Closing Quotes:

Polonius: “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Hamlet: Act 1 Scene 3 Page 3, William Shakespeare

“We are all just actors trying to control and manage our public image, we act based on how others might see us.” – Erving Goffman

“Society is not homogeneous; we must act differently in different settings.” – Wikipedia on Erving Goffman

As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier