Sunday, July 18, 2010

#12: Image Is Everything

Recently I’ve done a fair bit of travelling, most of which involves flying. When preparing for a flight I keep a mental checklist of items I need to bring: Government ID, tickets, toothbrush, underwear, et cetera, et cetera. While these items, listed in order of importance, are critical, none of them could be considered the number one essential item. In my book, it is most crucial to bring along something that lets everyone else know that you are an asshole.

Long ago there was a time without cell phones. I know, many of you just blasted cheerios and root beer all over your monitor, but I tell you it is true. During this time, people were forced into unconformable situations such as having face-to-face conversations with strangers. Can you imagine having to interact with people?

Luckily someone invented the cellular phone and the misery of such interactions went away. In the beginning the cell phone was great for people who wanted to show the world how important they were. A guy could stroll through an airport aimlessly shouting “SELL! SELL!” into the business end of an electronic brick and everyone would ohh and ahh over his importance.

But soon, lots of people had cell phones and the image began to dwindle. The decline culminated with the advent of the Bluetooth device, which I blame for killing the importance factor of the cell phone.

For a while I could not turn around without running into a Bluetooth-sporting cell phone user. I thought to myself, “How lazy has the world become that a person cannot take an extra second to pull that gadget from their hip pocket and pop it in their ear?” I then realized that these people were simply striving to convey their significance in the order of world affairs. Unfortunately for them, the image was greatly diminished when truck stops started selling fake Bluetooth devices.

Like the Bluetooth, the image factor of the cell phone has diminished over time. Now nearly every 8 year old on the planet either has a cell phone or programs one for their parents. Such technology saturation has created quite a quandary for the man who still desires to look like a jackass at the airport.

Ironically, cell phone technology has actually provided a solution to this difficult problem. With the advent of the smart phone, actual printed newspapers are a few and far between. People are inundated with constant e-mails, texts, and tweets about what is happening in the world. While the influence of printed news has been reduced, the novelty of newspaper reading has increased.

Nothing conveys arrogance and self-importance like someone parked at an airport gate furiously flipping through the pages of a newspaper. And that is why I rely on my trusty Wall Street Journal to create the ambiance of arrogance that I have grown accustomed to projecting.

My preferred method is to read for a bit, flip a few pages, sigh loudly, and turn to the teenager next to me and say, “Have you seen this?” To which he responds by glancing up from his texting frenzy and muttering something about old men and assholes.

As a smile grows across my face, I sit back and think, “Mission accomplished!”

Use #12 – Creating an ambiance of arrogance

John Hansen has employed his arrogant attitude and high level of self-importance to co-create the megahero novel The Power of Zahn. The story, chocked full of tasty characters, is guaranteed to delight and, when printed, will quickly replace newspapers as the median of choice for image enhancement.