Der Ewige Hochzeiter
"Flattery will get you nowhere!"
Altogether now: "Oh yes, it will"
Idly flicking through a pile of advertising in the post I noticed how often I was being brown-nosed: "a busy woman like you", or "as a fashionable and stylish person, you already know", or "aware of your intelligent and perceptive grasp of ". etc. I was being encouraged to invest, buy clothes and a new political magazine, in that order. Did it work? No, because I have no current interest in doing any of these things; had I had, however, I might have hesitated for a moment before depositing the material in the recycling bin.
Occasionally, I too am guilty of flattery, sincere flattery, of course. Who has not admired their boss for his /her brilliance, has not told a friend how wonderful s/he looks, praised a child to get it to do more of what we want it to do. Manipulation and flattery are closely allied. There is a man I know who likes nothing better than to have his own opinion of himself confirmed; whenever we meet, which is not often, I gladly oblige, if only to save myself a grumpy and difficult conversation. You should see his face light up when I admire his latest opus!
All of you reading this blog are, by definition, intelligent, bright, excellent writers, aware of the latest developments in politics and current affairs, and wonderful people. I also know that you lead busy lives, are competent and highly efficient, kind and considerate towards others and paragons of virtue. Would you read me otherwise?
Blogging comments are usually complimentary, often excessively so. I had a recent jolt to my easy acceptance of blogging praise: a blog I had not come across before, started a blog-criticism me-me, all reviewers to remain anonymous. Every participant had to review two participating blogs and the comments would then be emailed to the blog-owners. Well, anonymity made a big difference! Both reviewers of my blog found it boring, there were too many subjects and many of the posts were far too long. One said she couldn't even be bothered to read the post because of its length and the other one, slightly kinder, wondered which kind of reader I might be aiming for. The two blogs I was given to review were being written by "I-am-a-mother-and-wife" bloggers, had lots of recipes, household tips and pictures of pretty babies. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, so I said only kind things about the appearance and content of the blogs, but also said that I would probably not become a follower. This me-me was quite obviously not aimed at me, but it was an eye-opener at any rate. Anonymity guarantees honesty.
Flattery makes us happy, even when we suspect that we are being flattered. We all like to feel better about ourselves and prefer to mix with people who have a flattering opinion of us. As adults, we tend to drop somebody who always criticises our work, our appearance, our tastes, our outlook. The most successful and long-lived TV chat show hosts are those who ask only the most unctuous questions. Celebrities wallow in the stuff and, given half a chance, so do the rest of us.
Actually, flattery might be the reason why I spend my time blogging rather than getting on with seriously writing my memoir: not only do I find blogging easier, it also provides complimentary feedback now, instead of at some unspecified time in the future, or more probably, never. Instant gratification for me as a result of your flattery: you're confirming that "I'm not too bad, really, am I?"