Recently a woman asked me if wearing a nametag was my security blanket.
It’s a fascinating question. One that can be answered from both sides.
Because on one hand, a security blanket is a comfort object. It provides someone with psychological relief, especially in unusual or unique situations. It’s essential to that person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
Whatever the inanimate object is, irrational as their attachment may be, it still helps someone get through tough transitions.
In that case, the nametag is absolutely my security blanket. Wearing it makes me feel special and unique and creative, and most importantly, connected. It literally and figuratively reminds me who I am. It’s the life purpose icon that anchors me in an otherwise chaotic, unpredictable and cruel world.
And while it’s not the heart of me, it’s still a big part of me.
But let’s flip the argument for a moment. Because psychologically, a security blanket is something that you feel naked without, right?
Well, that’s the thing about wearing a nametag. I actually feel naked with it. The act of writing my name on a sticker, slapping it on my chest and walking around with it all day, every day, actually makes me feel quite exposed.
It adds a public layer of vulnerability and accountability to my daily interactions with the world. Which means there’s no hiding. My identity is laid bare, right there on front street, all of the time.
And so, it’s the opposite of a security blanket. Think about it. What makes you feel safer than anonymity?
Reminds me of a compelling study from a modern media journal. The researchers explored how online platforms are environments that afford users the chance to strategically employ anonymity to circumvent rigid norms around socialization.
When people have the option to be anonymous, or at least browse under the guise of an avatar, they purposefully disassociate their interactions from their known identity.
Which gives them a safer space for learning about others, about the world, and about themselves.
Take the nerdy kid who is socially awkward at school. Thanks to his security blanket of anonymity, he can digitally engage with people successfully, which boosts his confidence for interactions in the analog world. Time well spent.
But the blurry line is when people start using anonymity as a sword, not a shield.
Take the isolated, angry bully who wants to make other people’s lives miserable. Thanks to his security blanket of anonymity, he can digitally spew hate and post his insane threats, which ruin the internet for everybody.
And so, like most things in this world, security blankets are all about how we use them. If comfort objects help us become more productive and healthy and fulfilled, outstanding.
But if they become yet another thing for us to hide behind that justifies our behavior, then they’re doing more harm than good.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you using your security blanket as a shield or a sword?