You all know what a reputation is. That’s what we think of someone else. All folks have reputations. The President has a reputation, perhaps good on the left and not so good on the right. Movie stars have reputations. Singers have reputations. Sports heroes have reputations, but not so good when they get caught doing banned substances. John Boehner has one. Nancy Pelosi has one. Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno have one, as does David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel. Collectively the Congress has one that may not be too good at the moment. Justin Bieber seems to be working on his every day. As a matter of fact, Jon Stewart spent some time comparing Justin Bieber to Congress. Somehow I don’t think it was a complement to either side. “Congress is the Justin Bieber of our government, throwing away for no reason whatsoever a tremendous opportunity because of immaturity and a lack of self control,” charged the comic “news” reporter. OUCH!
No matter what celebrity or public figure you name, he or she has a reputation. The funny thing is, they have different reputations to different people. Justin Bieber certainly has a good reputation to the “Beliebers,” but not so good with the neighbors whose house he egged the other day. Sometimes the variations of reputations have to do with generations, sometimes politics, sometimes religion. There always seems to be a reason to leap to some conclusion about someone.
All this leaping about is exactly the problem with reputations. Sometimes they are based on the slightest bit of news about a person. We hear a celebrity rumor and we make a judgment. A friend we respect has an opinion so we make another judgment. A person associates with someone we like or don’t like and we make another judgment. It seems reputations can be built on the smallest of whims or the tiniest bit of gossip. This is all too common in the circle of public opinion.
Some celebrities, and especially politicians, may spend a good deal of time cultivating a reputation. In certain fields of endeavor it is all about what the public thinks. This leads to managers, public relations people, speech writers or joke writers. Perhaps the person needs some handy “ad libs” so he does not say anything that would hurt his reputation. Many politicians’ careers were ended or at least stopped at a certain level when their reputations took a hit, even if it was over the smallest gaffe.
Now if you think that people in the public light have to worry about their reputations I will suggest another to watch. First you need to leave your desktop, or take your laptop or other small device and go right now to the washroom. I know, that sounds a little weird, but just do it. When you get there, look in the mirror very carefully. Study the face of the person you see and ask yourself, “Does this person have a reputation too? What is it? What do people think about the one staring back at me?” OK, now you may return to your place.
Unless you have been tossing eggs or drag racing up and down the street, your neighbors might think you are OK. You might be thinking that you don’t care what they think. I hear a lot of people say they don’t care what other people think about them, but I doubt that is true. I am sure that you really do care what people think about the person in the mirror, and by the way, you should care about what you think of that interesting face too.