The Ability to Project an Image of Success

Excerpt from “Youtopia and the Bubble of American Egos,” by Theo Horesh, Beyond Growth (Aug. 26, 2009):

What happens when a whole society of people learns to project an image of success and capability that few members of that society actually possess? Let us create for ourselves an imaginary world—we’ll call it Youtopia—and explore what might happen there…

In a socially mobile society like that of the US, in which individuals craft their own lives for themselves and must regularly recreate their own social worlds as they move from place to place and from one social class to another, the ability to project an image of success and capability can mean the difference between success and failure in almost any endeavor. So let us travel to Youtopia and see what happens when all of us do this?

First of all, it becomes difficult to distinguish who is actually successful and capable on Youtopia. For everyone will appear successful and capable whether or not he or she really is. And while new indicators of success and capability might be discovered, those indicators would be quickly learned by others on YouTopia, for if everyone possessed the ability to project an image of success and capability, whatever the indicators of success and capability were, they would learn them.

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