The Reputation Economy and the Cult of Likability

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The reputation economy depends on everyone maintaining a reverentially conservative, imminently practical attitude: Keep your mouth shut and your skirt long, be modest and don’t have an opinion. The reputation economy is yet another example of the blanding of culture, and yet the enforcing of groupthink has only increased anxiety and paranoia, because the people who embrace the reputation economy are, of course, the most scared. What happens if they lose what has become their most valuable asset? The embrace of the reputation economy is an ominous reminder of how economically desperate people are and that the only tools they have to raise themselves up the economic ladder are their sparklingly upbeat reputations — which only adds to their ceaseless worry over their need to be liked.

Empowerment doesn’t come from liking this or that thing, but from being true to our messy contradictory selves […] What is being erased in the reputation economy are the contradictions inherent in all of us. Those of us who reveal flaws and inconsistencies become terrifying to others, the ones to avoid. An “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”-like world of conformity and censorship emerges, erasing the opinionated and the contrarian, corralling people into an ideal. Forget the negative or the difficult. Who wants solely that? But what if the negative and the difficult were attached to the genuinely interesting, the compelling, the unusual? That’s the real crime being perpetrated by the reputation culture: stamping out passion; stamping out the individual.

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2 Comments

Filed under Education, Library Instruction, On Being Human, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel, Quotes, The Library Game

2 responses to “The Reputation Economy and the Cult of Likability

  1. Lidryn

    Kevin, could you please fix the link to the article? This should help in the meantime:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/08/opinion/bret-easton-ellis-on-living-in-the-cult-of-likability.html

  2. Kevin Michael Klipfel

    Should be fixed now. Thanks for the heads up and the correct link.

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