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Beyond personality

Updated: Aug 16

The current implications of the word “personality”, and the surrounding assumptions, have very clearly multiplied in an exponential fashion through the last third of the twentieth century, and all the current one. So, in my case, it’s fair that I say I’ve witness about 50 years of change, beginning with my late father installing a television to our family home. At that time there were channels BBC 1, BBC 2, and ITV alone. Channel 4 came later.

The roots of modern personality stem from even earlier times. In terms of the science or humanities subject psychology, depending how you view it, everyone certainly has a personality. They may have pathological levels of introversion or be a life and soul of the party extrovert. Both are personalities. But society has developed a misconception that these extremes imply a continuum from not having personality at all, to having one, like it’s a metric, and other important traits are overlooked, for example, conscientiousness, which happens to be quite invisible most of the time, as it happens.

In the UK, the Rank Organisation had successes like the “Carry On” films. They featured many exaggerations of behaviour, but tongue in cheek, and not directly copiable. On the other hand, Hollywood icons including a “bad boy” James Dean, and “blonde bombshell” Marilyn Monroe, have been pivotal in creating images to spawn clones, albeit initially requiring the most confident to pull them off, but ultimately being made easier as styles diffuse through society, and safety is provided by proverbial numbers, at least within the ceiling of an age-based impressionability demographic.

The box office continued to be very successful, not least with its role of dictating elements of popular culture, including clothing fashions. Then, the advent of popular music videos (and without music videos if bands like the Sex Pistols were considered) almost totally took over the general influences, suggestions of off-the-shelf role models, personas, attitudes, and group affiliations. Essentially, pop groups were propagating information about how they behave, the ideas that they found important, and how you might overlap with them. The messages or information was both freely and readily available, and a single defining choice away.

Groups always offer an element of safety in numbers, whether that’s within a handful of people, or the one billion that make up the Roman Catholic church. Catholicism is not something you identify or connect with, in just one moment, but the transparency of pop bands, which must necessarily and intentional be a market friendly design, even when it’s more peripheral, both need and offer easy entry routes. However, there are always less commercial and enigmatic bands. For example, years after lead singer Ian Curtis’ suicide, Joy Division’s bassist, Peter Hook, revealed he had not known what Ian had been writing and therefore they’d been gigging.

Along with Hollywood, large-scale influences continued, with comparative metrics based on media sources, being clear. Popular music took over as an image creator, if only because songs are produced more frequently than films. However, popular culture and its mechanisms, then allowed reality TV to emerge, and not by a small degree. Social media significantly augmented personal expression, with very little restrictions. People could certainly copy less and experiment more. This ran parallel with an obvious shift in parenting and schooling, because compared to previous generations, such as those who grew up in the seventies and the eighties, on balance, young people had become much more confident.

Nations like the UK continue to obsess about personality, and unfortunately, even within politics. Less developed countries have less call for it. Too them, it’s one of Jesus’ houses built on sand, because it is ultimately pointless, if only because modern assumptions about personality are dampened by the increasing age of their witnesses, and despite comparative statements suggesting one person has “more” personality than another, those controlling mechanism only affect the impressionable. In fact, they are non-tangible and effortlessly disregarded.

In conclusion, personalities try to tap into assumptions, themselves existing on the back of ideas propagated all over and by every media method. Any validity, maybe kudos, and/or strength, has market driven links and forces. Despite the preferences of the majority, “everything turns around”, and fickleness alone can ultimately finish something. As always, try to look inside. Try to be true x

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