• Posted: Aug 27, 2011 10:54:14
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The dictionary defines posing as "assuming a particular attitude or position in order to impress or give a false impression". And, of course, pejoratively we assume "posers" to be a fakes or fakers. But there is a bit more going on, I think, than just trying to impress or fool someone. Posers can be actors and they can be scientists.
Traditionally trained actors pose for us not to fool us, but to model for us a particular way of being human. Without our needing to engage in such behaviors, we have a fair chance of understanding through their efforts both the advantages and disadvantages of behaving like that without having to suffer the consequences. Many important cultural and developmental lessons have been learned from observing actors at work.
Regular folks engage in posing, also. And they often do it, not as fakers but as scientists. They do it as an experiment, rather like trying on a different hat or suit of clothes. Their intent is not to deceive, but to see how things feel that way, how they work, to extend understanding and insight while in the process garner a bit of fun from a memorable experience.
There are certainly times, though, when posing is both antisocial and pathological. Antisocial because the false impression left behind can have devastating social consequences. Case in point, the world's economy is currently still working through the consequences of financial firms having marketed high risk mortgage securities as low risk mortgage securities. Pathological when an individual's life is ruined by a compulsion to try being something they are not, like rich enough to afford things they actually can't afford.
The difference between "good" and "bad" posers would seem to be not their ability to deceive, but the consequences of their deceptions. Many couples engage in sex without being prepared to deal with the consequences. We shake our heads and both pity and admonish those who fail to anticipate and deal with the consequences. But those who rise to the occasion are deemed worthy of our respect and often afforded considerable assistance and support. We believe they possess "character", when in fact they are merely willing to conscientiously and responsibly pose as something they never intended to pose as.
As we scan the social horizon before us, especially with an important election year looming, there will certainly be posers for us to consider. May your ability to discern the "good", the "bad", and the benign grow ever more astute. In no small way, the future of freely functioning and effective democracy will depend on it.
Thursday, August 11th, 2011