Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Question of Image, Still on my Mind.

The opinion or concept of something that is held by the public.
To be an example or epitome of.

     It's only gradually dawned on me that we cultivate an IMAGE, deliberately or otherwise. We 'see' ourselves in a certain way whether we like it or not. Whether this is the same 'image' others see is interesting in itself. What was it Robert Burns said.
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us.
'Two 'instances' have recently brought these thoughts to the fore.
    As recorded in my post July 19th my wife and I (sounds very regal) recently bought a new car. Now what are old couples supposed to drive. Years ago proof of arrival would have been owning a Rover. Nowadays geriatrics who have arrived probably own a Volvo or a Lexus; staid, safe, uninspiring, you get the picture. (Expect howls of protest from owners of either, Grumpy!) Part of this train of thought has come about by the young Seat salesman asking us to put in order our rating of six considerations: Performance, Safety, Reliability, Image, Comfort, Economy; we chose IMAGE!
Plus geriatrics are not supposed to be into: bucket seats, tinted windows, spoiler, stripes, sports gearing and suspension; turbo chargers and superchargers. So what did we specify our purchase must have? You've got it: bucket seats, tinted windows, spoiler, stripes, sports gearing and suspension; turbo charger and supercharger.
    Now what does this tell you?  Grumpy is not very keen to accept the limitations of growing old He certainly has no desire to grow old gracefully. He's not too keen on conformity (He never was) and he'll go out of his way to 'buck the system' so to speak. In general, he loves to be different, he has a 'tongue in cheek' somewhat irreverent  view of life and it shows! All very harmless, bordering on daft for daft's sake. In a way it's playing at or up to an IMAGE. Except that this image thing, however subtle, however unconscious is more important than you think.
    I went to a wedding recently. The groom is a military man, a serving soldier; also present were several of his military colleagues. It would be unprofessional to identify them further. They were uniformed, superbly turned out, immaculate men, young yet hardened, seasoned campaigners, men who would be proud to defend you in times of strife. They were lively, noisy at times but no matter, they epitomised the joy of living particularly associated with youth.  And then it all went a little 'haywire' to say the least. The soldiers and friends became involved in a 'drinking contest' that went too far, too long. The competitive drinking of 'shots' (Someone please explain to one old man, what exactly do 'shots' consist of) resulted in one ill, and I mean very ill groom; dangerous in the extreme. Yet no-one in the group itself saw the dangers and attempted to curtail the contest. As a geriatric observer I reckon I know why.
   Its an IMAGE thing. All involved saw themselves as 'macho', individuals, male of course, answerable to no-one. Part and parcel of an elite group within society, invincible and so on.  (the regiment's motto suggesting invincibility was uttered whenever a participant struggled to complete the 'downing' of yet another 'shot'.) All totally insane yet understandable to this old bystander.  In other words, the participants of such a sad pastime were merely conforming to the IMAGE they believed was expected of them.
    I am lucky enough to have followers from all over the world. And I bet you they all are have image 'problems' to a greater or lesser degree. A member of the WI or Mothers Union? Do you see yourself as an upstanding member of your community; useful, hardworking, caring and compassionate? Or maybe you are a councillor, or even a county councillor. Someone everyone looks up to, someone who is important and has definitely 'arrived'. You might be a member of the professions,  in which case you probably don't even have to try, you already are sure of your personal superiority. Pity the poor devil who digs holes in the road for a living. He's probably one of the best blokes in the world and nobody notices.

    People are strange in the extreme and not always funny ha ha with it. I have a cousin who I seldom see. For years whenever I met him, usually at family functions, his first question to me was 'How much do you earn.' How strange is that! I  knew of a young man from a poor part of Derby who moved to a nicer area a few miles out of town. One of his first actions on moving was to step outside his new house and offer to fight anyone in his new neighbourhood. I have a friend from the 'south' who, of an evening,  changes clothes before sitting down for an evening meal. (I realise that commenting on such things makes 'us up north' seem working class in the extreme but I suspect remnants of the class system and all that means are still firmly with us.) 
    We all adhere to an IMAGE whether we like it or not. So how do you see yourself? And do you like what you see? But more important, how do others see you? 


Nota Bene said...

Ah ha so you bought a Seat. German engineering with Spanish style and flair...great combination. Does that reflect you do you think? Or did you just like the car....?

The only image I worry about these days is when I look in the mirror and the figure before me is not the one I see when I look down.

I suspect different people see me in different ways - around where we live, the financiers see me as weird and whacky, but in the creative community, I'm seen as very staid...and probably past it. The truth is probably not in the middle, but a combination of the two...

Helen Devries said...

Depends who is looking at me, I suppose, as people bring their own image to bear on that of others...

Bobby said...

Images are deceiving me lately, even my own.

rhymeswithplague said...

So many people misquote Robert Burns. You were closer than most -- only one little mistake:

"others" should have been "ithers"...

Regarding image, the me on the outside is nothing at all like the me on the inside. More's the pity.

I used to care greatly how I was perceived. I don't any more, which is not to say I have let myself go to seed, only that I will be in the ground soon enough. I'm too busy enjoying what is left of my life to worry about what others think. Not that I'm a libertine, either -- probably pretty much an old prude. To a point. After that, it's Johnny, bar the door.

I'm making no sense whatsoever, but I hope you understand what I mean.