Today. I saw something on Twitter, which caught my attention. I must admit I’ve become a real user of Twitter a lot over the years. I’ve stopped reading newspapers, which is bad for the newspaper industry, but I’m fond of Twitter, I don’t participate in it much, but I like to read it. I also find it’s a great aggregator of all the news that’s going on. Just don’t get too wrapped up in it.
However, there was this tweet that came through this morning. It was a beauty, and it was regarding Trump’s estranged niece in her new book, where she depicts a man trained in deception and braggadocio, by a distant and dysfunctional father. I just loved that word “braggadocio.” It sounds Italian. I mean, it’s got an Italian ending, and if you actually look at what it means according to the dictionary, braggadocio means boastful or arrogant behaviour. That word always resonated with me.
My mother used to use it. When I was a kid, I can always remember her saying to me. “Peter, pride comes before a fall.” To be honest with you. I think that held me back a little.
When I was young, I was too scared to put my head up and get knocked down because this pride was always going to come right before a fall, but I understood, and I understood a little later that what she was saying. It was “be aware of being arrogant.” There’s nothing wrong with being proud. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your achievements, but it was the arrogance that you had to watch out for. Of course, if you have been around long enough, you tend to see popular culture trends, come and go and come back go again, with a slightly different twist.
It wasn’t easy to accept my mother’s advice when observing the great Cassius Clay as I was growing up. When he was young and was brash, arrogant, and confident, I think at the time I thought, “Yeah, he’s got pride, but a fall is coming.” And obviously once he became Muhammad Ali, he really showed his conviction and wouldn’t go to the war, he was prepared to go to jail and was prepared to lose his title and win it back. You realise that the man stood for something. Maybe all that false bravado of being the greatest was actually part of an act, whereas deep down, he was a really nice guy. So the greatest as he was called, and till his death, he was still known as the greatest.
Flick forward to the 1980’s, and that was the time of Gordon Gekko and “greed is good”. At that point, I suppose you could say that in popular culture, the tilt wasn’t too far away. And in my mother’s eyes, Gordon Gecko would have been someone that she would have said “there’s a braggadocio.” And then this guys pride was definitely going to come before a fall and of course, as the movie would have it that’s exactly what happened.
Then came the period when super model Naomi Campbell started to exhibit the most arrogant behaviour, where she was convicted and almost went to jail for throwing a phone at her personal assistant.
It was at about that point that the world got tired of “braggadocio.” The world had had enough of being too arrogant and to the point that one would be a celebrity if they started helping others. Mother Theresa and Princess Diana for example were celebrated during that whole period.
Being nice to people became the accepted norm. If you think about it, perhaps particularly Princess Diana got as much exposure, and got as much opportunity as any previous braggadocio. But you could see there was goodness in their hearts.
However, then came 2000, and all of a sudden arrogance came back into vogue The Kardashians and a number of others; greed was becoming good, arrogance was becoming good, being noticed was becoming good, being extreme was becoming good, being opinionated was becoming good again the list goes on and on. Trumpism, as we know, it started to appear and being extremist started being normalised