Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

One of the reasons this blog came to be was a desire to be more authentic while searching for the answers to our ethical dilemmas. While we’re far from the experts on how to be authentic, we are on a continuous journey to figure it out. Personally, when I remove myself from my professional and social life, I have some trouble sorting out who I really am.

I’m a first-generation Indian-American born and raised in rural Missouri. That, as you may expect, has caused some internal conflict. In high school for example, I had to decide if I wanted to admit to my parents that I was dating.

Most of my fellow first-generation’ers hid this basic American rite of passage; I was very tempted to do the same. Even now, though I’m extremely close to my mother, I hide things. Lies of omission, one might say. Lies that have become second nature and most definitely stand in the way of personal authenticity.

Now, this is a somewhat serious introduction to my Facebook question.

My good friend Vamsi approached me today with a dilemma: What should he do with his father’s request to add him as a Facebook “friend”?  While this resulted in many laughs, (the image of his father on Facebook is the equivalent to the image of  90-year-old women in saris using hot pink cell phones – very real yet a shock to the system) Vamsi also needed a few options.

Create an extreme limited profile – one that would only reveal his “good” Indian self? Refuse to accept the request? Or, gasp; accept his father’s request to see him as he really was?

This might seem a lighthearted question, but I think it’s also a very real question. What part of ourselves do we hide from the ones we care about? Are we shortchanging ourselves when we do this? Shortchanging others?

Based on responses to a previous post of mine, I think many people would say it’s a harmless lie to create a different persona for your parents – protecting them even.

Are we ethically obliged to be our most authentic selves all the time?

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