“We are born to be hypocrites,” says social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. Such a bold statement, I thought, as I turned up the volume on Haidt’s interview with Bill Moyers. “Is he calling me a hypocrite?” I wondered. In a way he was and to an extent, I am guilty as charged—we all are.
Although our minds have evolved since our hunter-gatherer days of instinctual fight or flight, we are still wired for basic tribal behaviors. This need to fit in has turned us into a reputation-obsessed society.
“Our life is the creation of our mind.”—Buddha
“Thinking makes it so.” – Shakespeare
“Perception is reality.” – PR Professionals
We can see the evolution of this concept throughout history. It’s as if it’s ingrained in our DNA. We are self-presentation manipulators who value far more what people think of us than who we really are.
“We lie, cheat and justify so well, we actually believe we’re being honest,” says Haidt, and it affects every aspect of our lives.
In the recent election we were inundated with polls and statistics that seemed to cater to self-serving partisan TV networks. Even in everyday life we see self-presentation manipulation. From falsifying our resumes to “land that big job” to adding people we don’t know to our social networks in an attempt to “look popular,” we do anything to be esteemed by a certain “tribe.”
If this is a sign of our evolution thus far, I cringe at the thought of what the future may hold. No wonder public relations is a growing industry!
Sophia is a reformed banker turned communications professional who lives and works in New York City. She considers herself an ever-evolving product of life and is interested in all things delicious and bizarre.