Depositphotos_6140807_s-2015A persona is a ‘face’ or ‘mask’ one puts on as an actor to take on an identity of what one is not, but for all intents and purposes looks genuine. A persona is a character type that looks real, but hides real intent, motive and purpose. Brilliant actors and actresses are clever at convincing us that they are the character in the story. Then when we see them interviewed (as who they are) people often have trouble discerning the persona from the person. Recently we saw people in Sydney rush up to Harrison Ford as if he was Hans Solo or Indiana Jones. I think Shane Jacobson suffers from the same because many believe he is Kenny.

The inability to separate person from persona is a form of thinking immaturity and evidence of a lack of discernment. This is a common disorder in ‘celebrity worship syndrome’. There is also the reverse when an actor/actress takes on the role of their character or, loses touch with reality and thinks they are above the law or other human constraints ( This is a common challenge to anyone in stardom, including sports stars who get surprised when they end up in court for behaviours that are unethical and dysfunctional. Social media also fuels the modern fixation on celebrity and reality TV where people seek stardom. This is the nature of ‘person/persona confusion disorder’.

We need greater discernment and wisdom in such space (social media and TV) and we also need such in risk and safety. The opposite of discernment and wisdom is ‘dumb down safety’.

I have meet a number of people recently for whom safety is a persona, that is, it is not who they really are but rather safety helps them ‘mask’ something else. This is usually: the quest for power over others, being right, coercion, rigidity, absolutism and self-fixation. These motivations can be easily ‘masked’ by a seeming desire to want others safe. Such a persona enables unethical behaviour in the name of moral good and ethical care, ‘I’m only sacking you for your own good’ or, ‘Sack the Bloody Idiots’ ( Safety-as-persona is an insidious disposition because it functions on a seen and hidden level. Safety-as-persona loves ‘dumb down safety’ that views the world as black and white and binary.

Unfortunately, people who have difficulty discerning Real Risk ( fall for the game of safety-as-persona. What appears on the outside is a seeming passion and care for the safety for others, but what is enacted is psychological harm for those who are made the enemies of safety. This is the paradox od safety-as-persona, psychological harm is justified often in the name of zero harm. Non-conformers must be demonized and sacked, for their own good. The safety-as-persona act is the tactic of the sociopath and narcissist-as-actor, who is able to seduce the non-discerning person into the harm (mask) of their game. Even the actor themselves may also be unaware of their own motives and be self-deluded into the safety-as-persona game.

The arguments of safety-as-persona are all about what benefits ‘safety’. Safety (collectively) must outweigh the costs to the individual (and their freedom). For safety-as-persona sacking is often enacted in the name of the ‘good’ of safety, that just happens to dish our (psychological) harm to the individual. The argument is, ‘you have brought this upon yourself’ or, ‘I’m so sorry (not really) but you need to feel the full force of the consequences for your non-compliance’. The best way zero harm (collectively) can be advanced, is by harming you (individually). The counting of zero is often wrecked by non-compliant individuals who are dehumanized and counted as numbers. The first action of the dehumanizer is to take away names and replace with a number. The Nazis were brilliant at this. The safety-as-persona logic is: we don’t sack people, we sack non-conformists and numbers. The only thing that keeps us from zero is people ‘who chose to be unsafe’ and if ‘safety is a choice you make’, then a sacking is justified.

There is no thought for any secondary effects (or by-products) in the safety-as-persona game. All is justified by safety, including the freedom and will of others to tackle risk in a way that makes sense to them. For safety-as-persona, there is only one true way, one interpretation of the Act and Regulation. What safety-as-persona doesn’t like is the fluidity and subjectivity of the Act and Regulation. Safety-as-persona wants a Regulation that defines tightly and punishes harshly. Safety-as-persona ‘masks’ the real (often unconscious) delight and pleasure safety-as-persona derives from harming others in the name of ‘good’ and safety.

However, safety-as-persona only thrives as a game of bluff. The best way to tackle the nature of safety-as-persona is not to respond to the persona (mask) but to name the underlying effects and reality of motive. Safety-as-persona is best challenged by naming the psychological by-products of safety-as-persona enactment. The discerning person seeks an understanding of by-products of decision making not the superficial nature of decisions. The wise person seeks to ask about trajectories (where is this going?) and effects of decisions (what does this say about us ethically?) and not be seduced by the ‘noise’ of short sightedness of binary dumb down safety-as-persona.

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