Monday, July 07, 2008


I am currently at a stage where people around me are losing their “filters” left and right, and I have a sinking feeling I’m losing mine, too.

If I remember correctly from my last Psychology 101 class taken in 1923 or so, filters are those regulating devices provided by the ego that help to repress some of those anti-social and random impulses our id likes to suggest on a regular basis. The ego is under the guidance of the well-meaning superego, our conscience and critic, which governs ideals, spiritual goals, and cultural regulations. Psychological filters work very much like a coffee filter, a furnace filter, or a car filter in that they are designed to regulate what comes in or goes out. In this case, psychological filters regulate our actions and the words that come out of our mouths.

So here’s our ego working hard to act responsibly, held to impeccably high standards by our superego conscience—while at the same time we’re being bombarded by our disorganized id (our dark side) whose only desire is to let it all hang out. The id says, “If it feels good, do it.” The id says, “If you think it, say it out loud.” The id says, “I want it, therefore I should have it.” And the id says, “It’s all about me and what I want.” No wonder we feel so tired at the end of the day—it’s from keeping our filter in place, battling that pesky id from morning until night.

As far as I can tell, there are five main id filter removers:

1) Alcohol – If you have ever had a friend walk up to you at a gathering and say, “I r-e-a-l-l-y like you scho-o-o mush . . . you’re the besht frien’ I’ve ever had . . .,” you are dealing with a person whose id filter has been temporarily removed for the evening. It will generally be back in place again in the morning, along with a really bad headache.

2) Stroke – Hang around any nursing home long enough and you will run into residents who, because of stroke, have lost the part of their brain that says, “Maybe you shouldn’t say that.” It’s why the 93-year-old former Methodist minister in Room 167 shouts at the top of his voice, “Get me out of this *&%*#@ place! Help! Save me from these *!%@^$!” The filters are gone—his id has taken charge of language and emotions.

3) Watching TV Reality Shows – A steady diet of TV reality shows, in which television cameras are used to record unscripted life dialogues, only sell advertising if the unscripted dialogue is shocking and crude. The more bleeps in the audio, the better. The guests on the “Who’s My Baby’s Daddy?” episodes of The Maury Povich Show know if they’re not shocking enough, they’ll end up on the cutting room floor. Bridezilla is under pressure to alienate every single member of the bridal party. That encourages the home viewing audience to believe that unfiltered ids are the norm and filtered ids are repressed and old-fashioned.

4) Aging – It all started when Jenny Joseph wrote a poem warning that when she got old, she planned to wear purple “with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.” And from there, an entire revolution was born. The poem gave permission to millions—perhaps billions—of old people (even those who don’t have strokes) to run around saying and doing whatever pops into their heads. Feel like farting in church? Let ‘er rip. You’re old and you’ve got your red hat on—what are they going to do? Feel like telling the checkout clerk at the grocery store that her multiple piercings and tattoos make her look like a Gamboozi witch doctor out of National Geographic? Go ahead—stare and make remarks. You’re wearing a red hat and you threw your id filter away—nobody can touch you.

5) Blogging – “Dance like nobody’s watching; sing like nobody’s listening; write like nobody’s reading.” Who needs a filter when you’re blogging? Let everyone know exactly what’s in that empty little head of yours. Why pretend that you are deep and mysterious—just turn that brain inside out and empty out all the fluff and trivia. Sure, the mystique is gone; but it certainly feels good to let that id come out of the closet and dance naked in the streets.

OK, now back to reality. Filter in place, everyone? Time to leave this blog and go back out into the real world. Got your prim back on? Got your proper where it belongs? Did the superego and ego get the id back in its cage? Then let’s go out to face the day.

No comments: