Eventually The Mask Must Come Off

We love flattery, even though we are not deceived by it, because it shows that we are of importance enough to be courted.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

Flattery has become an old fashioned word, but the concept is as fresh as ever. Today we call it “little white lies.”

Flattery means excessive or insincere praise. While we would rather have the sincere variety of praise, we seem prepared to accept the insincere variety if it is presented in a convincing manner and if we don’t have to work too hard to receive it.

Women wear cosmetics, jewelry and expensive clothes and pay large sums of money to have their hair done to attract the attention of others. Most are quite happy to have others notice what they have done, especially so if the praise is more effusive than a passing comment.

Men do something similar but their presentation is more subtle and the praise it receives more understated than for women. They look for the glances at shoes, suit, tan or hair style, making themselves aware of the bit of extra respect their temporary status has earned them among their peers or those at other levels of the business hierarchy.

The entire fashion, jewelry, cosmetics and plastic surgery industries revolve around creating a false sense of value based on appearance. No one really believes that their value depends totally on their appearance, except models, porn movie stars and possibly debutantes, but enough emphasis is placed on it by western society that in many environments it is taken very seriously.

Those who want to be courted, as Emerson put it, understand that they will receive the attention they desire for reasons that are not associated with who they really are. It’s all a mask, but one that most people accept as necessary.

Earning honest respect for what they have accomplished takes too long for most people, so they strive for the false attention that purchased products and services can buy them. Most television stations and networks exist because of revenues they earn from promoting products and services that people could easily live without.

Flattery works, though temporarily. At some point the fancy clothing, makeup and jewelry must come off, the gel washed off, the mask removed. The bank loans must be paid. Then the relationship–whatever it is–must be able to hold up based on other values and attributes or it collapses.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, striving to show flattery for what it really is.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

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