Two Sides to Pride

People have found their voice. And are making noise. It’s a new world. We have to get it right.
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Pride has two valences — the kind that goes with “wow, I’m proud of this accomplishment” and its cousin “too proud” as in “too proud to show weakness or to accept defeat or even disparagement.”

From the moment we landed in Indianapolis, we were struck by signs of “pride”. Airport signs claiming “world’s best racing city”, “country’s best airport (for several years running)” and “no need to GO COASTAL, go to college here in Indiana”. Then there were the quizzes and exhibits at the Indiana State Museum “guess the hoosier” or “Indiana culture and creativity shared with the world” which included photos from Jane Pauley and David Letterman to Darren Stevens (of Bewitched!) athletes, The Jackson Five, the creator of Garfield, Cole Porter, and many, many more.

People are proud of what they accomplish, especially in the face of challenges. One of the taxi drivers we talked to was proud to tell of the ease of getting a job here and the notion that “even my sister, a felon, can hold a job in Indianapolis. If you aren’t working here then you aren’t trying.” The same taxi driver spoke softly and a bit ruefully about Mike Pence and the current situation regarding the national anthem —“I wish he were talking about ‘why’ the Colts were taking the knee” but he is still proud of his team and his city and his country.

A woman who sells engagement rings explains it this way, “I want people to be proud of this country so why would I criticize the people running it, out loud?” There is a sense that somehow it’s disrespectful and not appropriate; it’s OK to talk about challenges but not to show discord. “We all have to learn to get along”, she said passionately. But she is not a complainer.

She doesn’t like to ask for help even though she is worried that her fiancé in construction broke an ankle and will be laid up for a bit. So the “too proud” part is there too. Maybe we need to be a little more careful about the way we talk about the challenges faced by real people in the real world.

It's the pride that explains people’s behavior, the positive and the negative. Everyone wants his or her opinion to be heard. Maybe that explains some of our interest in writing reviews on Yelp or on Trip Advisor or even on ZocDoc. The often discordant chatter about the differences between Boomers and Millennials, about cities and the heartland, about national and local politicians. Nobody wants to feel they don’t matter, or that they’ve been passed by. People need to know their opinions count.

As marketers, we need to pay attention to that desire for more personal expression. People have found their voice. And are making noise. It’s a new world. We have to get it right.

Lana Meyer