Front Stage/Back Stage
Erving Goffman considered to be one of the most influential sociologists of the twentieth century had a theory around the terms “front stage” and “back stage”.
The “front stage” is how one engages in behavior when they know others are watching. The “back stage” is what we do when nobody is looking. I have witnessed people, particularly politicians and famous people, whose behavior is a bit different when nobody is looking.
As we are in the throes of the Democratic race for the nomination, it is something I think about when it comes to any candidate. I noticed it the other night when I watched the post-wrap-up of the brutal display of journalism from CBS news. Many candidates weren’t sure if they were on the air yet and once they did their body language changed.
Years ago, we were at a fundraiser for Al Gore when he was running for the Democratic Presidential nominee. It was at someone’s apartment. At the end of the evening, we were the last to leave and were chatting with the husband of the couple who lived there. Gore did not know anyone was still there. He walked around the corner and saw Fred and me and his entire body language changed in a millisecond.
On the way home, we talked about what we both witnessed and how that moment changed everything for us. Everything is so played out for the media that I just wonder about the “back stage”.