“Oh, ‘that band’ .. yeah I’m really into them”
We’ve all done it.
Whether its regarding a ‘positively life-changing‘ piece of art, a novel which is ‘so very poignant that it forces you to question your existence‘ or an album which ‘like totally blows your mind man‘ we’ve pretended to know it, often well, in order to seem “cool”.
It is an interesting trajectory that we transgress in our desire to be seen as “cool”, and one -it seems- that is entirely defined by who we surround ourselves with. I feel myself transition, in both language and presentation, depending simply upon the age group of the people I am in the company of. For example, at my Grandpa’s 80th just a few weeks ago I was the perfectly agreeable grand-daughter, one who loved study and pretended to have an understanding of the stock market in order to converse with the multitude of stock-brokers and accountants who regarded me. My aim was to impress, I wanted these 60-90 year olds to leave thinking how lovely, mature and un-teenagy I was. For what purpose? for acceptance. To feel comfortable with the image I projected and be interpreted by the group in terms of what they deemed as socially acceptable.
In comparison, after a few drinks at a social gathering with friends and peers I’ll be swearing like a solider and referring to Tony Abbott as an ‘Onion Eating Bigot’. You’ll also probably see me nodding emphatically as someone recites the works of a poet I’ve never heard of and calls them “transformative”. While surrounded by peers I will speak passionately about the “languid beauty” of foreign film and act as though I’ve heard of the obscure Swedish arthouse indie that just came out. Many times these lies are aspirational images we wish to perpetuate, I do, for example, have an interest in Foreign film but have never viewed Cinema Paradiso despite the fact I wish I had. The reason I may pretend at one house party to have listened to Bob Dylan’s entire works and at another to be familiar with the entire works of Saul Eslake’s economic vision for Australia is the same.
While I’ll be the first to decry my distain for anyone ‘fake’ (a sentiment that feels fairly ironic after what I just wrote) I do believe that there will always have to exist a certain component of ourselves which is fake. For all you Neysayers just try -and reflect a little here please- to tell me honestly that during a job interview or in a work environment you’ve never pretended to have a greater skill set or even knowledge base than you actually do. Tell me that you’ve never pretended to agree with your bosses perspective on Tolstoy’s War and Peace. That’s right you can’t, you wanted to be “cool” and informed didn’t you?.
In our bizarre and divergent job-sphere you could argue that every interaction we share can be seen as potential networking and that therefore the impression you wish to share is an agreeable and mutually affable one. This essentially means that we have commodified our daily interactions and used them as tools to gain access to certain environments which they would otherwise be denied. This is an idea that further develops into our representation of self through social media. From a business perspective social media can be your make or break, with most companies scanning your online presence before hiring you, the image you perpetuate has a huge impact. Further, the ability of your online presentation to be turned into a business in itself has had serious implications on the willingness of people to represent themselves in certain ways. I have admittedly, on multiple occasions, reconsidered posting a photo onto a social network, not because I want to avoid embarrassment (check out my instagram: nativecoast) but because it hasn’t ‘fit’ with the way in which I wish to be perceived online. That is to say, it would reduce my cool factor.
With modern society dominated by the impacts of image and many relying on the impressions given off by both their virtual and real selves to gain careers one could argue that the little white lies we spill in order to be seen as “cool” make ‘good business sense’.