If there was ever a living example of two negatives equalling a positive, the scene of Alex’s exit visit to Seaburn’s apartment was it. The meeting of two catfish instantly felt like a uniting of two undercover spies relieved, even elated, to recognize unexpected allies in one another. Adding yet another twist to The Circle’s innovative take on dramatic irony, the story of Alex and Seaburn carries the freedom of anonymity to its ultimate conclusion. With their distinctly different personalities and approaches to The Circle game, Alex and Seaburn play out an unintentional romantic comedy where each takes on the dual ‘player’/’mark’ role in their mutually conjured affair of the heart.
Alex’s Ideas Connector Core Personality engages with life primarily through his thoughts and feelings, and is most fundamentally motivated by unifying the chaos of life in some way. The parting words of Alex’s post-exit video reflect the capacity of his Core Personality to maintain many different (even contradictory) impressions simultaneously, “I believe in all of you. And I am, in some way or other, rooting for each and every one of you.”
This capacity for holding multiple perspectives at once serves as the backdrop for Alex’s singleminded pursuit of an alliance with Rebecca despite “knowing there was something off about [her].” Doubts about her ‘realness’ did not deter him because those doubts had no real bearing on the game of gaining influence. Although Ideas Connectors have a strong intuitive side, the sheer multitude of intuitions cycling through their mind means that only a small fraction of those intuitions will emerge as active factors in the choice of a particular moment. Ideas Connectors are not rigidly attached to any single idea. They are willing and able to suspend judgement even for values they consider important, like ‘realness.’
Seaburn’s Social Explorer Core Personality connects with life primarily through his relationships. And it is the thrill of Exploring each moment to the fullest that empowers his complete surrender to even the most turbulent currents in his life.
Unconditional acceptance is one of the few non-negotiables of Social Explorers. They experience it as an extension of ‘real’ empathy which, in turn, comes from seeing ‘the real’ person. Asking others to unconditionally accept his ‘not-real’ self is likely to fill Seaburn with a sense of guilt for betraying this value that is so integral to his identity. And unlike Alex, who is not overly concerned with the ‘realness’ of other players, Seaburn is on alert any time another player is suspected of catfishing, unsettled by the feeling that his own unconditional acceptance of others might be violated.
Seaburn’s ongoing struggle around the inevitable unveiling of his facade speaks to a very deep inner conflict between his desire to win and his affirmation of unconditional acceptance (and all that it implies) as a foundation of his character. Exacerbating this particular psychological tension, the angst of a conflict-averse Social Explorer Personality weighs heavily on Seaburn’s “moral compass.”
“Two fish in a room,” Alex and Seaburn both chose to enter The Circle behind fake identities. Their respective approaches to ‘realness’ as it applies to themselves and other players reveal how personality can shape our relationship to truth.
Since the dawn of humanity, personal and social influence have correlated to trust resulting from perception of ‘realness.’ Despite the wrench that Internet masks have thrown into the process of discerning what is ‘real,’ our reliance on that process as a tool for navigating interpersonal relationships has not waned. As we become better liars, we must also become better detectives. A closer look at how different Circle players’ tackle the question of their own ‘realness’ and that of other players showcases the role that personality plays in our approach to distinguishing real from fake.
For easy reference, each character story in this series includes an UnConflict Personalities listing which mentions the Core Personalities of The Circle Players discussed to date.
- Social Explorer (Core Personality of: Miranda, Seaburn)
- Social Changemaker
- Social Connector (Core Personality of: Joey)
- Ideas Explorer
- Ideas Changemaker (Core Personality of: Shubham)
- Ideas Connector (Core Personality of: Sammie, Alex)
- Physical Explorer (Core Personality of: Alana, Antonio, Bill)
- Physical Changemaker (Core Personality of: Karyn)
- Physical Connector (Core Personality of: Chris)
(Note that the UnConflict Personality system operates in a closed loop configuration where the Physical Connector loops back around to the Social Explorer)