There seems to be a human propensity towards appearing virtuous and pure of heart. I cannot point to any sociological nor statistical studies about this apparent trait. This is simply a mode of behavior I’ve noticed in myself and others. Even should my opinions regarding affectation prove to be a form of projection, this tendency is something worth investigating and contemplating anyway. 

Take one of my own affectations for example. I’m an unapologetic social justice warrior. In many ways, this is a positive, helpful form of behavior and belief. However, during my youth, this attitude bordered on fanatical, fundamentalist adherence to ideals. I rejected out of hand any viewpoints and official policies that did not conform precisely to my opinions regarding social and civil justice.

I began to notice a similar fanaticism of these beliefs in some of my fellow social justice warriors. We disagreed on certain points. I was called out about this fundamentalism by my best friend more than a few times. Eventually, the need to believe and live in reality slowly cleared some of my fanatical blindness. My friend often helped my growth by tactfully pointing to my shortcomings. This caused cracks in my wall of denial regarding my own adolescent idealistic fanaticism.

I wish I could say that I was finally, totally cured of this type of fanaticism and kept only the essential parts, but that would be an affectation. For instance, sometimes a politician or religious leader endorses oppression and repression, my reaction can be fanatical again. In other words I’m still working on this. I’m weeding out the affectations as I notice them. This helps develop more of a sense of authenticity. There is more Jay in my voice these days. It’s me showing up as myself more often and hopefully not in a narcissistic manner. I hope to continue growing into my own persona.

The act of writing about my own affectation is borderline pretentious. One must be careful in admitting one’s faults so as to avoid humble bragging or going overboard with self-righteousness. There’s a fine line between appearing foolish and being a bore. I’ve seen this happen in others so often, that I thought it worth mentioning on this blog.

When we mature and adopt more merit we eventually wake up to how vulgar affectation is. Hopefully, this process begins sooner rather than later in life. Displaying fake virtue is repulsive and wearisome to others. It’s also harmful to the pretentious person in that he becomes a martyr in life and tortures himself in attempts to gain attention. Acquaintances see through his façade and doubt his sincerity in all other matters as well.

There’s an artificial, unnatural vibe surrounding the practice of affectation. We intuitively pick up on unnatural behavior of others. We are attracted to the natural over the artificial. After all, artifice is often used to disguise flaws. When we witness a self-righteous person, we wonder what she or he is concealing. We know in our hearts that the person who proclaims how virtuous she or he is, actually suffers the deficit of virtue.

I’ve noticed that truly virtuous people don’t make a fuss about their goodness and virtues. They downplay their virtue without humble-bragging. Such rare people don’t wear their righteousness on their sleeves, but because their virtue is integrated in their behavior, bystanders notice it by themselves.

Such a person understands that downplaying their apparent indifference to virtue can devolve to affectation. This is a conundrum similar to trying to pick up liquid mercury with pliers. In trying to appear indifferent, we become obsessed with indifference.

Putting on appearances is a natural human trait. It’s important to know when our disguises cross the line into affectations. The truly great person possesses life’s best qualities and is held in high esteem by his peers. He authentically hesitates to claim it for himself. He walks along a fine line.

The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders something from cultural theorist, sociologist, and philosopher, Jean Baudrillard. “Cowardice and courage are never without a measure of affectation. Nor is love. Feelings are never true. They play with their mirrors.”  

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, Friendship, philosophy, Youth and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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