Categories: Mirror Mirror

Jennifer Allen


By Jennifer Allen

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been told I often exhibit ‘too much’ of something…

“You talk too much.”

“You weigh too much.”

“You watch/play/read too much [insert intellectual property here].”

It amazes me to this day I never resorted to any sort of substance abuse in order to cope.

Within a span of 18 months, I would lose my mother to cancer and my father would remarry. In the process of this new person entering our household, ‘too much’ would eventually evolve into ‘not enough.’

“Your grades aren’t high enough.”

“You aren’t pretty enough to do that.”

“You don’t go to church enough.”

Sound familiar to anyone?

Still, as such contradictory comments were thrust at my psyche over and over again, my teens became a phase to which I tried to remain fabulously chill. After a year of psychological therapy (a ‘requirement’ from my new stepmother), I buried a lot of my anxiety and somehow managed to create this illusionary mask that was somewhere between Spock and Kirk; a functioning version of myself seemingly unfazed by everything except when I had no other alternative.

It was a charade put into place solely for my survival in an unsatisfying situation. As such, I learned to become what is known as a ‘social chameleon.’ While observing others in social situations, I would mold my responses in such a way to blend and please everyone involved. For a time it was to be quite an amusing challenge; like playing chess except with body gestures, tone of voice, and choice of vocabulary.

After a while, however, such a lifestyle would become exceedingly exhausting. When I eventually came across another who exhibited a similar technique, I saw myself through their lens. I was spending so much time contorting myself into something more palatable for the masses that so very few had come to know the ‘real me.’ Honestly, I don’t know how some people (politicians, for example) can sustain such an illusion with so many people they come in contact with.

A recent film entitled Sorry to Bother You tackles this very premise as Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a black man, lands job at a telemarketing firm. He soon discovers that the only way to move up in the company is to use a literal “white voice,” which grows more and more natural as the grueling days go by (akin to a ventriloquist). Once Cash gets promoted to a “powercaller”, he begins to notice some darker elements beneath the cracks of the company he works for. With encouragement from his girlfriend and co-workers, he sets off on an absolutely bizarre mission to expose his employers’ true schemes.

For me, it wasn’t until I hit my 20’s and attended a college 400 miles away from home that I eventually came to understand is that wanting to consider my own needs and expectations was not all that bad. In a world where culture often dictates even now that women shouldn’t take the reins of their identity but also openly engage the full range of their emotions, we are often cited as either ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’ for acting in such a manner.

Truthfully this imperative to remain invisible, quiet, and fabulously chill is a mandate that cannot be sustained for long. We as human beings are so deliciously complex and messy that remaining caged in such a fashion is perhaps the greatest sin ever.

And so, it seems that others in 2023 have taken on the same mindset. Last month I spoke about Hollywood writers and actors going on strike. As of this writing, performance capture & voice actors have joined in the fight. Airline assistants, California hotel workers, and now Detroit auto workers have also put their feet down on bad conditions and pay. Thousands of UPS workers also nearly went on strike as well this summer but managed to work out a deal with management.

Yet why is this suddenly so prevalent for so many people at once? Most cite that conditions have worsened over the past three years, since the Covid pandemic first began. With rising costs of living, paychecks have not been keeping up for many in the workforce.

The fear of technology consuming some of these jobs has always been an underlying factor. Artificial Intelligence may still be in its infancy, but there is always a danger of what it could potentially turn into.

In much simpler terms, ‘not enough’ has become the mantra to counteract those who have ‘too much’ and I believe it’s time for all of these complex and messy people to have the same opportunities to enjoy life without the need to hide their true desires.

The mob has spoken… and it can no longer be ignored. Embrace the insanity so that we may reach a much more sustainable world.

ADDENDUM: After 146 days on strike, the Writer’s Guild of America and major Hollywood studios reached a deal during the last week of September 2023.

Jennifer Allen works at Saathee and is also a Podcaster, Blogger, Photographer, Graphic Artist, Gamer, Martial Arts Practitioner, and an all around Pop Culture Geek. You can reach her at [email protected].