Friday, May 28, 2010

The 'God, I'm Wonderful Wall' as an Impression Management Tool

Impression management is defined as the process through which people try to manipulate which impressions other people form of them. It can be deliberate or unconscious. In essence, this is the idea that each person is his or her own public relations representative.

I think that it was Tom Clancy in one of his books (I'm too lazy to verify this) who ventured the concept of the 'God, I'm Wonderful Wall.' This is a wall in which a person displays diplomas, citations, plaques, trophies, and pictures of himself interacting with celebrities. Some may do it for their own benefit: in effect, a shrine to oneself in one's private space. (Sort of like my picture of myself in my prom dress in which I saw myself as looking absolutely sexy and smashing, even if no one else did.) This serves a similar function as does a scrapbook or diary: to provide a vehicle for mementoes.

However, there are others who have such walls so that they may foster an enhanced self-image to others. These are the ones I mean. Now I'm not taking exception to displays of diplomas for professional reasons or as required by law. It's reassuring that the physician that I'm consulting graduated from the LSU School of Medicine, and not from Podunk Institute of Chiropractic and Cannery. No, I'm talking about the less ambitious Ozymandiases who wish for us to look on their mighty works, and despair. But who is likely to go in for this self-conscious manipulation? Unquestionably, people who are aspirants? But is this a Guy Thing; or can women do it too? A little research needs to be done on this in the form of paying attention to pattern of office décor.

And does any cheating go on? You know what I mean. Guys going out and purchasing trophies or plaques for display. It's no secret that some people parlay mail-order diplomas into jobs or promotions. And might not people take it a step further? Why not have photos of oneself photoshopped with celebrities. And, hey, choose which group you wish to influence. Having one's picture with a Governor or Senator or even a President immediately shouts, "I am one important dude to reckon with."

But there's an obvious female counterpart: that old-fashioned emphasis that some place on the breasts. Décollété, with or without titty rouge, does have the effect of managing an impression of oneself in others. And a little cheating is rampant too: look at haw much breast enlargement surgery is done each year!

A little story. I was visiting a friend of mine in his frat house, and he was giving me the tour. In one of the rooms a member had pinned on his display board a pair of girl's panties; and, being curious, I asked about it.

"Dee Doh, why does Bucky have girl's panties on his board? Does he play dress up?"

"No, he just does that to convince us that's he's getting some!"

So, with regard to various forms of impression management, it's important to recognize that people have various motives for doing so, and that one should perhaps be pleasantly skeptical, but not overly censorious about this form of behavior.

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