I like Chicago. No, that isn’t right. I love Chicago. Not only was it a place that I grew up but also a place that made me the person that I am today. For me it is the Billy Goat Tavern, The Burghoff, Rocky’s Fish House and many other haunts that no longer exit in the way that I knew them. Every so often I think about moving back to the Windy City and what it would be like to be back there. However, my thoughts are rooted in the city that I grew up in and not in the city that exists now. Unfortunately I am able to access this phantom city any time in my memory, no matter how far the reality may have moved on. This seems like the situation that many people are now finding with the internet, as search engines and algorithms that bring us the information that will reinforce our world view and keep us in that rut, unchallenged by different points of view and in some cases in a haze of fake news. We seem to find ourselves in funnels of yes men of information that no longer challenge our belief but instead reinforce them. Will we demand that this new media challenge us or will we take the blue pill and drift off on a missile of misinformation?
In another life I had the privilege of playing the “Phantom” in the Kopit and Yeston version of Phantom of the Opera. It was an amazing and difficult role made more difficult by the fact that I had to wear a mask for the entire show. I mention this because as an actor I had to find a way to communicate with my entire body the things that my face would have communicated. I realized that no one on stage could read my expressions or “see” what I was thinking. I think of this in terms of posting on social media and it make me wonder- am I my avatar? Am I a true expression of the person that I portray on line or are we all electronic phantoms masking our true selves