On Formality

Suits and ties and expensive shoes. There are places where these are still prevelant, but they are less and less common. I had four job interviews recently and, while I wore a jacket and a tie on the off chance someone would care, I had a very large and slightly ungainly beard, and no one said a thing. Now, maybe I should wait until I actually get a job offer to assume it was fine—but it was fine. America always was an informal place (perhaps not on the same scale as Australia, yet still very informal), but formality is dying amongst the younger generations here.

Formality made sense in a world where you only saw your neighbor or church friends every few months. Where everything you (or any celebrity) said could be tightly controlled. You could put on a show. Wear nice clothes. Act proper.

But today there are tweets about poop every day. Formality is lost on us. We live in community, or something like it online, every day. And we can’t get over how funny it is.

Among non-Christians I would argue this is a culture shift in losing value for formality. Buzzfeed can write a terrible article about the attractiveness of male movie stars and then turn around and interview the president. Famous people, who could be held up on pedestals, are tweeting pictures of their messy bedrooms, or their making inappropriate comments on Facebook. We see the dark underbelly of everything because of social media and an “always connected” lifestyle.

Our generation of Christians has lost a value for formality because it wasn’t valuable in the first place. God sees our poop, and our attempts to hide our farts in crowds. He is not embarrassed by our bodily functions, he designed them. He knows we have a third nipple, or that our necks have an awkward bend in them, the tie hides nothing from God. So taking ourselves too seriously—in dress OR action—is like attempting to see ourselves as people who don’t have to scrub our own behinds in the shower to keep them from smelling. And even the richest CEO still has to do that. No matter how nice of a suit he wears on weekdays.

Don’t get me wrong—please continue to scrub your behind. But you don’t need to dress in a $1,500 suit to do a great job at work. You no longer need to appear perfect, because we all know you’re not. Your best foot forward, is increasingly, your authentic foot forward.

Formality is lost. And it isn’t coming back.

And I, for one, welcome the new world order.