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July 2000

Sour Grapes

Losers' Consolation

By Neil Wilson

The votes are in. The winners have been selected. The contest is closed. For those of you who had hoped to be selected by our readers as the most favorite local personality or provider of a favorite product or service in the land of lederhosen and Weissbier and found the goal was out of reach, cheer up. There is no reason to feel like a loser. Aeosop is on your side. Popularity is sour. What is sweet is being unpopular, and having absolutely no interest or desire to prune and cultivate oneself, or ones business, to be more appealing.

The popular are condemned to spend their lives “looking good,” striving to attract new acquaintances and customers, constantly competing with others who are trying to lure the same people into their real or virtual communities and shops. They live in a world where every person, product and service can be chosen and rejected. The fact that they never know why they are rejected makes for enormous uncertainty, and a great sensitivity to self-destructive analysis. These poor souls are tortured by an endless inner questioning: Do people like me, my services, my products?

Popularity is their only hedge against their own social and economic insecurity. And popularity has its price. One cost is a tasteless conformity. Things that are not successful have to be ruled out in favor of the tried and true that ring the bell 100 percent of the time. The provocative and boring are eliminated. Life is AOLed. There is so much conformity that it has become popular to hate it, to dress down for Friday. Starbucks has managed to capture the flair of an avant-garde Bohemian café and convince people that liberation is being able to choose among coffee with 20 variations of sugar and caffeine. Gap is trying to survive by using advertisements with Slam and Beatnik poets.

Being a certified favorite insures success. An approved label is displayed for everyone to see — no need to examine the product. Many are called upon to be popular but few are chosen. If you are one of those who rated low in the Munich Found popularity contest, don’t worry, be happy. Popularity is too tawdry, too simple. <<<

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