In light of TMF’s recent shocking Freshly Pressed debut (and prompt crash back into obscurity), today seems like a good time to talk about flattery.
We all flatter to get stuff we want, and we all love to be flattered. It makes us feel good about ourselves. We crave that validation. We’re ravenous for it!
But flattery can be a dangerous thing…
According to Proverbs, “Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet.” I take this to mean that if someone is flattering you, they’re probably trying to kill you (which we can all agree is probably true most of the time). This is a bit depressing, but useful life wisdom nonetheless.
I think the takeaway from this wisdom – other than keeping an eye on that shifty neighbor with all those weird nets in his shed – is to be wary of the perils of seeking approval, and of those who offer it. This is a difficult thing to do, as we are so pathetic and needy. We gobble up praise like Ms. Pac-man.
Our hunger for praise compels us to go looking for it where we ought not tread and leads us to say things we probably ought not say. It also may lead us to sign gym contracts we ought not sign, or buy hats we ought not wear, etc.
How we use our words and wiles to flatter others and how we react to flattery says a lot about us. Unlike other, more tangible pitfalls (smoking, starting fights, pounding too many Doritos Locos Tacos/Miller Hi-Lifes, etc.), flattery is one of those sneakily potentially dangerous things we tend to wink at. Yet it can be damaging all the same.
It should be noted that being encouraging/supportive and being flattering are different things all together. While flattery is generally motivated by manipulation of some sort, being encouraging is always a good thing. No-strings-attached, selfless support edifies all people involved and makes the world much less awful.
So a few challenges for the day: 1. Keeping the flattery for selfish gain to a minimum; and instead, using our powers for good. 2. Surrounding ourselves with people who are supportive and uplifting (or at the very least, honest), as opposed to negative Nellies or shifty flatterers. 3. Being very skeptical of those who heap praise.
You’ve got to be careful out there! No doubt there are a lot of smooth talkin’ folks with nets, or spear guns, freeze rays, candlesticks (Col. Mustard reference) and every other kind of blunt object just waiting for their chance to take you down.
Pay those flatterin’ fools no mind. And be mighty careful where you go looking for approval!