We can have opinions about facades and morally degrade them as disguises, but presentations do matter a lot in the real world whether we like it or not. My view on them is amoral, i.e., morally neutral, and based on the necessary practicalities of the concept. In this Magic of Human Nature article, I attempt to explore the depths and importance of our presentation and mainly dig into our facades.
Facades All Around Us-
Do most human beings care if something is fake or a disguise or a facade most of the time? Sure, we’re all against it as falling for lies makes us feel cheated and stupid, making our internal defense mechanism demonize such illusions. But that generally happens only in a social setting, when others also believe it to be a lie. At the same time, we feel the need to convince ourselves that the illusion is real when others around us believe in it. Maybe it’s not a binary question of either just falling for appearances or questioning it with endlessly cynical skepticism, and it never was.
Everything and everyone in the world is subject to their appearances, whether they want to or not. There is no voluntary choice for any non-living or living thing to escape the reality of being perceived by their appearances. Most appearances can be a disguise, but I’m sure that it doesn’t matter to you or me or anyone else. I’d warned you that this exploration will have no morality involved, but the ride down this rabbit hole will be worth it.
We buy products based on their branding, that is, their appearances. We judge people, for both the good and the bad through all the spectrums of our opinions, based on their appearances. Many humans do say that appearances don’t matter, and I agree that they logically do not matter. But humans as biological creatures, myself included, are not scientifically designed to be logical beings no matter what we think. It’s in our nature to be the opposite of everything that’s logical. That’s why exists all the belief structures, superstitions, faith-based communities, the politically ideological fanatics, desperate consumers of fictions, sports, and conspiracy theories, comfort systems, and moral sensitivities that we humans keep striving for as activists, art, music, and entertainment and every other illogical creation that’s always been present and there is nothing wrong with it. My point is that we cannot use logic as a framework to understand human behavior, human nature, and anything that’s connected to an emotional creature.
Our Choices and Perceptions -
All our buying choices as consumers, the people we like and the people we don’t, and how we perceive everything is literally based on their presentation if we don’t pay extra attention to evaluating it logically, which most humans do not by design. People like to say don’t judge a book by its cover, but technically many books sell because of their cover; just like many movies sell to their audiences because of their posters, trailers, and the actors involved. Most products reach their appropriate consumers by their packaging and branding, that is, their facades. Their appearances are designed with basic psychology and creativity in mind to make them compelling to their target audiences/consumers and repulsive to those who wouldn’t like to use them. This creates satisfied consumers and makes sure those who wouldn’t like the product will avoid buying it.
Even the type of people who are against judging things and people by their appearances are not immune from it. Humans tend to think it’s immoral to judge something by its appearance when they don’t like their own appearances or are just dissatisfied with it, and yet those same people cannot escape the very behavior of perceiving things and people by their appearances. The way something is presented helps recommend it to those who’ll like it and push away those who won’t. So, in a way, the facades of all objects around us, the facades of ourselves, the facades of other people, all act as a natural and immediate reviewing system that helps the human mind make decisions.
The presentation of something/someone would be likable to some while at the same time be disliked by others. Everyone has their own tastes and preferences, and it would be dangerous to ever hold certain things at a high standard and others to a lower standard as a universal order. Each person highly values some things and gravely devalues other things, but forcing the same interests and disinterests on other people tends to slip into large scale violent conflicts as human history has repeatedly proven it and will keep continuing to do so.
So, all morality aside and practically speaking, we too are judged and opined by our appearances and so is our work. Quality is based on our emotional perception of what we’re seeing or experiencing, and that entirely depends on the branding or the presentation. Just like we aren’t completely immune from judging others by their appearances, we aren’t immune from judging ourselves based on our own appearances. Yes, and this applies even to those who boast about taking pride in their appearances when others don’t, because if they really did like how they looked, then they wouldn’t always be talking about it. In a way, this, just like anything else, is a never ending pursuit of finding something that cannot ever give complete satisfaction.
Many humans have an obsessive pursuit of improving their appearances like a maddening addiction, and at the same time, many other humans have an obsessive pursuit of being proud of their own careless and lifelessly unkempt appearances. I’m against both, as I see them as irrational and bandwagon-type trends that are both equally destructive in the long run. Like most other issues, I’m on the side of responsible moderation. Though many things are outside our control, everything we do is within our control.
Necessities of our Presentation -
A presentation that we intentionally put up can be considered a facade. Yet, all humans put up such facades either consciously or through unconscious choices. When both are a choice, either intentional or unintentional, people are still judged based on their facades. Of course, most people are very different from their appearances when they are understood deep down for who they really are. Yet, just like a book’s cover and branding or marketing sells the book before the readers actually open the pages to read and understand the book, a person or a group among strangers are first judged based on their facades which recommends a person to then start conversations where people get to know each other, and eventually understand each other for who they are deep down.
I’m definitely not advocating for anything connected to small talk and formalities, as I’m surely an ambivert and a weirdo myself, and I understand that everyone would be a weirdo when present in the crowd that’s wrong for them. Most people aren’t born into spaces immediately surrounded by like-minded people who share the same interests. There’s nothing wrong with being different, but it’s problematic to give the wrong impression about ourselves to people. That’s the whole point of the value of our presentations and our facades.
There’s a belief that our presentation is dependent on our physical body and the clothing we wear. Though it’s not wrong, there are many more major elements involved with our presentation. Things like our body language, accent, word choices/usage, facial expressions, sense of humor, style of creativity, ideas, instincts, insights, manners, choices, interests, speech, finesse, gait, tone, voice, reflexes, reactions, etiquette, and behavior all have a heavy impact in shaping our presentation and our personalities. Normal humans who are functional fake most of these things, but as I’ve kept stressing, a facade is not a bad thing when done for the apt reasons. Just like the famous words of Kurt Vonnegut which said – we are who we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be – our facades must be chosen intentionally so that we can responsibly be in control of it.
It’s always better to consciously be in control of our facades than to be at the mercy of the facades that we unconsciously drift around in. All the elements of our presentation which I listed in the previous paragraph are important, but so is our physical hardware. I feel more functional on a cognitive level on the days that I workout (gym or running or bodyweight workouts). The clothes we wear, even when working from home, make a change to our personality, our confidence, and our functionality, as we perceive ourselves differently based on our appearances. Yes, it is like the placebo effect, but I can’t complain when placebos work, and most placebos do work because of the illusion just like every other form of branding and facades. So, intentionally choosing our facades and focusing on our presentation is important, not just for how others perceive us, but even for how we perceive ourselves which does impact our functionality to certain extents.
(Yes, this article acted as a philosophical exploration about our presentation with a practical viewpoint. I get this article can be taken wrongly but I’m not trying to go out of my way to discriminate against anyone. It’s just an interesting element of our human nature that interested me. )
And . . .