Thursday, August 31, 2006


The word of the day is:


In the dictionary, image is defined as both a noun and a verb, with no less than 23 variations of meaning.

There is image in its most basic meaning of a picture or a likeness. We say that a boy is the spitting image of his father, and to take a photograph is to "capture" a person's image.

Image also refers to perception and reputation. A person's image is akin to the cover of a book; a thin veneer that does not necessarily accurately correspond who that person really is. It's a thumbnail sketch, a shortcut that doesn't always lead down the expected path.

There is an overemphasis on image in today's society, which, to me, is putting the cart before the horse; putting form ahead of function. This is like buying a car for the spiffy paint job and not looking under the hood.

I've seen job applicants given more advice on what to wear to a job interview, than on their actual hard qualifications and aptitudes to do a job. It is so that Albert Einstein would likely be passed up for many jobs because of his wild hair and ratty sweaters.

There is even a vocational category known as image consulting. Image consultants help people with their personal "window dressing", in order to help them convey a particular impression to a prospective employer, which may or may not bear any relation to their actual selves, aptitudes, or qualifications. Image consultants are then, in a sense, experts in the arts of deception.

It's unfortunate, but people today often care more about how things look than how they actually function. I've seen employers concentrate on matters of window dressing, while ignoring nuts and bolts basic concerns, as the business goes to hell in a handbasket.

One even encounters undue concern with image in religion. Some denominations have long lists of thou shalt nots: drink, dance, see movies, play cards, and so on, ad nauseum. Most of these same sects have strict appearance requirements for women than run opposite to the equally shallow appearance expectations in the secular business world: no makeup, no pants, dowdy dresses, long, plain hair. Oddly enough, such denominations do not often require the men to also adopt a visual stigma that immediately identifies them as being part of a particular religious group. Such religious groups care more about what's on the outside, about others might think, than what's on the inside; a person's actual faith or lack thereof.

To give excessive emphasis to image is misleading, often leading to mistaken impressions. The old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover" should be kept uppermost in one's mind when it comes to matters of image.


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