There is nothing you can do in life that does not reveal your personality in some way. Do you put on your left sock first or the right one? Do you wear matching shoes or deliberately unmatched ones? Do you comb your hair left to right or right to left, or just let everything find its own level?
Do you like to ask these questions or only answer them? When Friday magazine arrives, which page do you turn to first? OK, I made up those last two questions – but the others, and more like them, have all been a part of our lives for years now.
That sock question, for example. First of all, the mere idea of wearing a pair says that you are a vain person keen to look well-dressed. Or (depending on the pop psychologist) a stuck-up old man who hates to experiment and is a big bore, likely to repeat your stories to the same people at the same party.
Or that business of combing your hair. That unkempt look (e.g. Boris Johnson) is for people trying to give the impression they are too busy to do silly things like comb their hair. Or it is a sign that you are a rebel looking around for a cause. There is a third explanation: you don’t have a comb, but that is so obvious that no pop psychologist will go anywhere near it.
There are explanations for the colours you choose, the books you read, the manner in which you open a car door. Nothing has been left uncharted. At one time, everyone I knew wore a yellow tie because some magazine had said it was a sign of power and control. When that died out (as these things usually do), much attention was paid to the printed tie and all that it signified. Tradition, modernity, laziness, experimentation and willingness to try an experiment and therefore an indicator of power, control, etc.
At one time it was seen as intellectual to carry certain magazines in public, but that doesn’t work any more (except if you are carrying this magazine). I once had a lunch box that, to the untrained eye looked like The Complete Works of Shakespeare. But you could open it and take out your sandwiches once the admiring crowds had dispersed, walking admiringly.
Pop psychology has ruined many a job interview. The interviewee goes in wearing a yellow tie to show control, but the interviewer belongs to the printed tie school, which signifies hard work and compassion according to his favourite magazine. Yellow ties indicate weakness, in his reckoning. Nothing is spoken, but both parties have already made up their minds. Silence is full of answers.