The Third Mask and the Dark Knight

While 90% of the time I’ll simply blog about my D&D Encounters experience, on occasion, I’ll write about whatever strikes my fancy.

So for those unaware, 2014 is Batman’s 75th Anniversary. There has been quite a few ways DC has celebrated this event. Two of my favorites have been some animated shorts on DC Entertainment’s YouTube channel, and embedded below:

Batman: Strange Days

Batman Beyond

Tons of fun, if you’re at all a fan of the DC Animated Universe, and at any time in your life watched Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited.

The reason I bring up Batman is that last night, I watched a livestream Paley Center event regarding Batman’s 75th that included: Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman), Chip Kidd (writer Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan), Marc Tyler Nobleman (writer of The Secret Co-Creator of Batman), Kevin Smith (probably most famous for Clerks), and Michael Uslan (Executive Producer of the Dark Knight film trilogy…man, I wish I had his job!). It was a super cool event to watch, and I wish I had gone. I’m not sure it’ll be archived or appear on their YouTube channel, but here’s hoping. It’s definitely worth multiple viewings for the Batman fan. Supposedly it was sold out, but I swear that I saw an empty seat or two throughout the audience.

But I digress…

Near the end of the talk, one of the things that Kevin mentioned as being a contributing factor to the Dark Knight’s popularity is the dichotomy of Batman and Bruce Wayne, and how we all live with this type of mask. Batman is the person; Bruce Wayne is the mask he puts on when needed. For us, there’s our public persona, the face we put on throughout the day. Then there’s our private persona, the person we are behind closed doors, the person we have the most difficulty sharing with people, even our friends and loved ones. For some people, they may be one and the same, or at the very least, they believe their personas to be one and the same, but I believe that for most people this is an accurate remark. It’s part of our humanity, and helps us relate to Batman at a very human level, beyond the lack of superpowers and what not.

So what is the third mask?

Well, I’m a Wil Wheaton fan, and both him and his wife Anne maintain blogs. In Anne’s latest blog post (as of this date), she writes about her PTSD, past abuse, therapy, etc. It’s very well written, honest, and open. I was going to post a reply saying something along the lines of:

Wow! That was very well written, honest, and pretty damn gutsy to put yourself out there like that. Especially in this day and age, with so many keyboard warriors and trolls permeating the internet. I must admit that I probably would have refrained from writing something so personal.

This relates to experiences on online gaming (which can feel like treading a minefield at times) as well as past “discussions” I’ve had in forums in the past, where the most innocent comment can set people off, and they feel a need to bully you into submission. That’s probably the first time I ever heard the phrase mentioned: Don’t feed the troll.

So in the age of social media with twitter, facebook, instragram, linkedin, etc., is the internet persona we promote and maintain our third mask? I’m fairly confident that with at least some people, how they act online is vastly different from how they’d act if they were standing next to the person they’re “yelling” at with their keyboards and internet slang. And perhaps, we judge others far too often and too harshly based on the third mask alone.

Then again, I’ve been wrong before. Perhaps I’m over-thinking it, but at least a part of me thinks this is a topic worthy of discussion.