Of late, I’m doing more people watching than usual, and I’m particularly fascinated by those under 20 due to their clothing selections. Beau Brummell, THE male fashionista of Regency England, said that, “If people turn to look at you on the street, you are not well dressed.” Based on what I’ve seen of late, I think his words still apply and in more than one way.
In general, I’m not opposed to people dressing as their hearts desire. However, I’m perplexed by the seeming inability of teenagers (and adults) to gauge a situation and to dress accordingly. Beyond styles, I see more frequently than I’d care to someone either dressed in clothes that drown them or clothes that give them the dreaded muffin top (see right; I still can’t believe that Wikipedia has an entry this topic).
At this point, you may be scratching you head and wondering if I’ve lost my mind, but there’s a reason for my introduction of the muffin top to the discussion. From my perspective, the fashion trends of the young point to a bigger problem that extends outside clothing choices. When did we reach the turning point of believing that attention automatically equated to value or vice versa?
How many times during the last ten years did we see an Internet company make a splash, capture everyone’s attention for a short time, and then fade from memory? I propose that we’re seeing a shift to chasing attention over substance. I don’t claim this behavior happens in all instances, but you see it playing out among individuals, companies, and even countries.
Among individuals, it’s clothing , body art, and language. Among companies, you see it in poorly conceived products and services. Among countries, it’s threatening to wipe other countries off the map instead of repairing a crumbling infrastructure.
This behavior happens at all levels and for more reasons than I can catalog in one post. It’s intriguing though how accepting we’ve become, how rarely we call people on the attention seeking, if not the behavior itself, particularly in light of how some of the best things in life DON’T call any attention to themselves. Think about the best customer service at a hotel: it’s practically invisible, almost like the place in run by an army of ghosts who meet your every need.
Have we passed the point of no return? Will the extremes in society continue to garner attention and replace our pursuit of things with value that last longer than a season’s fashion?
(Image courtesy of Malingering. CC license: Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works. Some rights reserved.)