And where is the inner “I” in Identity branding?
Recent extended-stay trips to both South America and Europe revealed that posing for self-snapped photos of one’s own person and wearing clothing and accessories bearing someone else’s name (or logo) are not just American phenomena.
On both continents, locals and tourists of all ages, sizes, sexes, and races from every corner of the planet are infected with the same personality disorders of narcissism on the one hand and insecurity on the other.
Let’s take narcissism first. Oxford English Dictionary states (it is): excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one's physical appearance.
Well, the incessant taking photos of one’s own person in front of this or that (or doing this or that) and immediately posting the photos on some social media platform is certainly a living example of the definition.
It’s twin antic of having someone else take 20-30 cell phone photos of one’s person in certain poses learned on Instagram — verified after observing that all strike the same poses! — and then running to the operative phone to choose the best ones for immediate posting on the same social “stage” is another.
These self-absorbed practices turn Andy Warhol’s “Fifteen minutes of fame” into fifteen seconds of fame and in most cases are just trivial or silly, but in museums, for example, these folks become the new “literati” as they clutter up exhibition spaces by standing in front of artworks they never look at but prevent serious art lovers from viewing.
In essence, where they are only becomes a backdrop for who they are wishing to display to others: themselves.
So, who are they? Really —
Onward. What is insecurity? Same source: uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence:
Consistently flaunting items of garb and gear from sneakers and jeans to dressy outfits and handbags ostentatiously bearing the name or logo of a designer or brand (or T-shirts stating where one has visited or which events one has attended) are typical signs of insecurity in one’s own individuality.
This practice only serves to expose another artificial reliance on attention from others via “showing off” akin to the above-mentioned self-important photos.
The sheer number of immensely different-background people exhibiting the exact same behavior observed over a substantial period of time on two continents very far apart from each other indicates that such demonstrations of neurotic “Look at me” behavior are globally endemic.
This is alarming because these folks have become slaves to “others” in order to experience their own sense of existing as “important” people, thus betraying an internal need for external recognition of one’s own worth by photo-followers and/or those impressed by financial-taste-status.
This does not mean one should not take any photos of oneself or occasionally wear brands that appeal, but the routine of constantly practicing one or the other (or both) on a chronic basis needs examining.
Now, we must ask what in actuality reflects a secure individual identity or an individually created Self — the inner “I” as in “who I really am” — that needs no affirmation from others? The key word here, of course, is “individual.”
Every individual possesses values. Whether the values are conscious or not, whether personally selected or accumulated from others, and whether rational or irrational depends on how they were acquired and how they are lived out in real life.
If one is knowledgeable and confident about their value system, they will not need approval or recognition from others so will not need to continuously advertise themselves or define their personhood via superficial trappings.
It is this value system that can make each individual unique. It is the core mental makeup that creates a one-and-only authentic Self who may live independently and self-assuredly in this world if only they will.
What are some life-serving rational — acquired by reason — values that aid in acquiring a durable self-esteem? We might think of honesty, productivity, and physical fitness for examples.
And what are some life-defeating irrational values? Power lust, unhealthy habits (over-eating obesity and/or excessive cell phone usage), and senselessly following-what-friends-do come to mind.
What is the remedy for irrationality? The first step in examining (and then, perhaps, changing) behavior is to consciously and honestly identify a personal value system and how as a unique individual one wants to express it to others.
Reducing a value hierarchy down to one word that describes a fundamental core value as the essential animating principle anchoring one’s whole being as an individual starts the process of examination. Rational, life-serving examples might be truth, independence, perseverance, and curiosity.
Irrational, life-defeating values might be popularity, self-indulgence, superficial beauty, and tribe affiliation. Once one has identified that foundational value — rational or irrational doesn’t matter at this point; honesty is all — writing down all operational values in order of importance is next.
For example: health, beauty, friends, family, achievement, personal growth, popularity, romantic relationship, physical fitness, and so on.
Finally, selecting which values in the list are really the best for personal happiness and fulfillment as a self-created secure individual will round out the private profile. Then, living out those values in action and outward presentation every day without becoming part of the mindless masses will establish an inimitable Self that needs no external verification from others.
If an individual Self is not self-created, people who follow “Me-me-me” habits cannot be surprised if (instead of being admired) they are in actuality merely a part of the uniformly shallow copycat-mob that reveals a frankly worrisome universal state of cultural decline.
Something to ponder?
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation. She has written for many publications, including "Reader's Digest" and The New York Times. She is the author of "Crosspoints A Novel of Choice." Her most recent book is "Soul Celebrations and Spiritual Snacks." For more on Alexandra York — Go Here Now.
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