Today, say the pundits, you create your own brand, sell your own image, and it’s clearly in your own best interest to make that image as shiny and glittering and appealing as possible.
Yeah, right. How’s that working out for you?
An obsession with image, a constant concern with how one is perceived, has the effect of turning life into a performance, demoting others to the role of mere spectators. Nothing is genuine or sincere or authentic, but instead everything is done for the sake of the impression it creates on others. Everybody is Willy Loman, worried about being “well-liked.”
To hell with all that. Life as an endless high-school popularity contest is only interesting to people whose egos are so badly damaged they are consumed with a self-hate which they attempt to mask with sociopathic manipulations. They deliberately cause problems and then blame others for the problems they’ve caused, because their entire lives are an evasion of responsibility. They are incapable of recognizing themselves as the source of their own problems, because this would require them to admit error, a recognition of personal shortcoming that their fragile egos could never withstand.
Dr. Laurence J. Peter anticpated this situation forty-odd years ago: “An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.”
And even Willy Loman caught on at the last minute: “Funny, y’know? After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.”