Americans are not generally known for their knowledge of history (or geography). We have other strengths. But, when we DO have history (and remember it), we tend to be ‘colorful’ about it. There’s a ‘pretty famous’ (if by ‘famous’ we mean Historians call it that) time period in American History called The Gilded Age.
It was America’s first Great Headrush of Success — when the accumulation of extreme wealth became a remote possibility for a few outside the tight circle of White Christian Old Mega Wealth. Suddenly, even total cads could get the Federal Government to pony up all the money & risk on the transcontinental railroad while THEY reaped all the profit. Boo-Yah Representative Democracy was Good!
Our own Age is starting to feel (creepily so) like a deranged, stalker wanna-be of the Gilded Age. Call us THE BRANDED AGE.
Having no more wealth beneath the earth’s crust to pursue (someone else already owns it all), and with technology making most anything we could do with our hands obsolete as a job skill (making ‘things’ is so ‘third world prison labor’, don’tcha think?), that means only the Most Clever Rats will find their way out of the Maze that is Their Future. And the MOSTEST, CLEVEREST Rats have already groked that BRANDING — making YOU (the ‘idea’ of you actually) a distinct thing in other peoples’ minds — is essential to any sort of success going forward.
Because WHO WE ARE is now instantly accessible by anyone else, we need to make damned sure that what’s being PROJECTED is the picture of ourselves we want projected. Our everything depends on it being ‘right’ (whatever ‘right’ is for each of us).
Back in the day, this kind of thing was called ‘your values’. I don’t mean ‘Family Values’ — an ad slogan for smug, sanctimonious Christan hypocrites — I mean VALUES. Stuff you believed in not because some religious bullshitters rammed it down your throat but because you lived life and applied your life experiences accordingly. Like most people, you probably wanted to co-exist in relative peace & harmony with your neighbors, live a long, healthy life and get to see your great-grandchildren succeed before passing on.
And because those were your values, you hung with certain people who shared those values. You formed friendships, started businesses and raised your families among people whose values were pretty much the same as yours.
If you practiced a religion — you formed bonds with people who believed the same way you did. If you loved a sports team above all others… same thing.
These days they think of it in Branding terms. I happily ‘brand’ with Tottenham Hotspur for instance. I’ve followed that English Premier League team for years & years & years (I married into a Spurs family). On some days, I still happily co-brand with the LA Dodgers. It’s an LA thing…
But I am keenly aware of everyone I now associate with. If I speak up for someone or get their back — I need to know I’m not gonna pay for it by seeing my own integrity dinged.
After all — I have a brand to protect.