You Cannot See Me.

Posted On: 06.05.12

The problem is that

you cannot see


You read my


Hard words.

Happy words.

Real words.

And you form a picture.

A picture

that is gray

or rainbow

or neither.

One with soggy corners

that is

scratched at the center.

Or one

that is so wild in its


But you are behind a screen.

And so am I.

Screens that hide

but also show.

You see shadows cast

but never the object itself.

The object itself


a human sight

a happy sight

not perfect

but happy

full of color and song

trimmed with perspective

there are holding hands

there is dancing

in the bathroom

on the sidewalk

there is

walking to school

there is

coming home

there are smiles


there are tears



even while falling asleep

But you can’t see this.

{Can I?}


Do you ever wonder about, or worry about, the difference between reality and perception? Do you ever think that people are getting an imperfect view of who you are?

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30 Comments for: "You Cannot See Me."
  1. Anonymous

    I think this is an important question for everyone. Especially in this Facebook/sharing age. What is really going on in our lives and what are we presenting to the world? Is it deceptive to post happy pictures when we are in fact struggling? Is it dishonest to tell people we are fine when they ask even when we are in the midst of some kind of crisis. Won’t there always be a gap between perception and reality? Maybe we should just be concerned with how big this gap is?

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      I think you are right; there is a universality to these questions. I think that the interesting thing (or one of them) about modern life is that we have so many “tools” to tweak the image we present of ourselves. Many of us are all over social media. Many of us have blogs. These are ways we can tell our story, right? But what story are we telling? Is it a true one? An embellished one? An aspirational one?

      For me, what is intriguing is that there are times when I post something, something that is 100% true and reflective of something I experienced, but is not a real-time reflection of what I am going through. For instance, once I wrote a short piece on the inevitability of broken hearts in life, about how having your heart broken is part and parcel of living, Of course it was rooted some in my own experience and past, but really it was a philosophical questioning, And I had some friends reach out and ask if I was okay.

      Anyway, this is just one of the countless things that intrigues me about life and writing: Who are we? And who is able to see who we really are? Do we even know who we are? Okay, now I’m getting a little deep 🙂

  2. I think you make a good point here – We have our screen lives and we have our non-screen lives and which, I wonder, has become more real to us; more important to us?

  3. Yes, this! I have been having these same thoughts since I started blogging regularly. People have approached me in the grocery store after I’ve made a particularly heart-wrenching post and asked whether or not I’m really happy staying at home with my kids. 🙁 Thank you for helping put my thoughts into words!

  4. Christa Gane

    Your poem, or prose poem, reads like a photograph of this limbo – the image of the screen between two images (your blog and your real-life). The screen you write about is the art, and it is a relatively new experience of seeing; it is the closest dance of the real and the imagined and through it we have a self-portrait. I’m new to reading blogs, but I find the experience to be the same as finding a great self-portrait, Cindy Sherman, Chuck Close. Keep writing!

  5. Very powerful and thought provoking! Sometimes I feel like I have a foot in each world- real and online. It’s hard to balance the two.

  6. I think it’s an issue for everyone but bloggers are really prone to it because we are the ones who decide what parts of they story to tell and where to lie by omission.

  7. I often times also wonder about the perspection between online and real life friendships, if they are safe to have? I tell myself when an online friendship goes bad, I will not have anymore, but then I do. Then I wonder, why is it so easy to talk to online friends and so hard to get a hold of real life ones? Maybe I am just thinking too much here, what is your opinion on online relationships?

  8. yes, THIS! are you in my brain? love the way you wrote this- the stark, short lines. not a single wasted word. just the bareness of it.

    you hit the nail on the head (forgive the cliche).

  9. I think we never reveal our full selves to acquaintances or even friends. I think the blogging world and the online world allows us to be more open and liberal with our opinions. That’s my experience anyway. Although yes, if you choose to hide in the online world it’s much easier to do so. I guess it depends on how you use your media.

  10. Aidan, so much truth here in these words – there is no simple answer.

  11. This was beautiful and thought provoking!
    Great job!

  12. So true. I think most people definitely have two sides – the person they make themselves out to be to everyone, and the real self

  13. you make excellent points.

  14. I always wonder if I’m being my true self AND if I’m reading your true self.

  15. Maybe the screen can also be a little bit of safety sometimes.
    It is easy to forget that basically the whole world has access to our online lives, and that’s sometimes a scary thought.

  16. I don’t think the screen is that different than print other than the immediacy with which we can publish. Such an interesting point to make though and the way you asked the question with a prose-like poem or poem-like prose, the transitional nature of the writing itself lends itself to the question. I don’t know if you intended that, but it added to the effect for me. Erin

  17. Here the only thing that can be seen is what is shown, and even then we can’t control how others perceive us. But it can be a similar experience in “real” life too. And we can even hide from ourselves for a time. Lots to think about.

  18. This is so lovely. I love the way you constructed it.

  19. I love it. The sweet simple poetry of the truth. You are right. So often I wonder if I have been “too depressing” lately or “too whatever” then I will make sure my next post is something different – even if I’m not.

  20. Too true. My blog only tells a small fraction of my story, and not always the best bits.

  21. Ado

    Great point!
    I am aware that my online persona is so different from the “real” me, that sometimes it freaks me out. Online we only present the parts we want the world to see? it’s very controlled and sanitized, the good and the bad. Reality is quite different. I do think most bloggers get this though. it’s an interesting topic.!

  22. Shosh M

    You really capture the magic and the downfall of writing. The thinking that you know someone because you’ve read their words can sometimes bring you great friendships, but can also bring about great disappointment.

  23. That is a really good question. Are we more ourselves online or only who we want others to see? even when we admit our failings?

  24. great construction. great concept. so. so. nicely done!!

  25. This one really got me thinking. I think too often we see the portraits others paint online and we think it’s all real when it is a carefully constructed message. I think we need to be careful of that.

    On the other hand, I think if we are willing to be totally honest in our writing, that people who read our work can sometimes know us better because of the screen because all they have to go off of are our words, thoughts, and ideas. There aren’t all of the stereotypes that we may encounter in person.

    I really enjoyed this 🙂

  26. Great post! it’s so true. I put out there what I want you to see, what I allow you to see and I’m sure most bloggers/writers do something similar. The question is always who this person is for real. Really enjoyed this!

  27. This post works like a mirror. I must be honest to say that I am constructing a screen life which I dream of in my real life.

  28. Love this. It’s so true, that in these technologically-full days we have two personas: the real us and the screen version of us. Something to think about – how do I want to be perceived? How am I being perceived?

    • Aidan Donnelley Rowley

      Yes, so interesting to think so many of us have two (or more) personas. The question of perception is one that has always intrigued me and is particularly relevant in this blogging world, I think.

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