Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sales Pitch

"Every man alone is sincere.  At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins." 
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

I had a fairly common experience today.  And, as is always the case when this happens, it annoyed me.

We've all experienced it.  You see someone you know pay lip service to a virtue that you know for a fact they in no way practice in their daily lives.

For instance, a person who called me an "asshole"-- on more than one occasion, actually, and for no real reason whatsoever, except that they disagreed with me--cheerfully promoted the practice of wholesale kindness.

This is the same person who once made me cry, and then said, "Don't cry.  I'll always consider you a friend."  (Needless to say, I began to cry even harder when I heard that.) 

And of course, they no longer consider me a friend--and it's my fault, wouldn't you know.  (Of course.)

I often wish the computer masterminds who gave us the joys of social media would design a new kind of filter and blocking system.  One that we could all appreciate and benefit from.

If they can put people on probation for spamming the walls on Facebook, why can't they stop people from posting or "liking" quotations when they (the posters and the likers) in no way practice what they (the quotations) preach?

I'd like to see a social media experience in which, if you post or "like" virtues that you yourself fail to live by, you get a warning message:
"We've noticed that your account has been posting complete crap and irrelevant moral musings on Facebook pages.  Because of this, your ability to post on Page walls has been suspended for 15 days.

If you continue to lie about your moral stature after the block has been lifted, your account could be permanently disabled."
As I said, I think everyone has experienced the gritted teeth, the growl of frustration, or--in extreme instances--the shriek of absolute disbelief that accompanies such moments.

And we all ultimately tell ourselves, "Just ignore it."  Because we know that, if we point it out, we risk the tendency to judge.

On the one hand, I think we'd all like to see (other) people called out for their behavior.  But on the other hand, I think we all know that 1) it would do absolutely no good, and 2) people always kind of know already.

In my experience, the people who play fast-and-loose with their purported code of ethics in their lives tend to have few--if any--truly close friends.

They may have quite a few acquaintances (or, in today's world, Facebook and Twitter "friends"), but when they log off, they aren't really spending a whole lot of time talking or interacting with others.

As their lives unfold, people slowly but surely give them a wide berth.

As the 18th-century British philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke once said, "Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises for, never intending to go beyond promises, it costs nothing."

The hypocrites of the world never really get past their own sales pitch.  They fail to realize that, in the end, the value of your words is revealed in the quality of your subsequent actions.

Without the evidence of the latter, the sound of the former mean nothing. 

As Emerson expostulated, you have to "put your creed into the deed"--and make the actual sale.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."