We do a lot of stupid things to gain acceptance among others. Many of those things go back to being a fake. Some of you have been guilty at some point. So have I. The question is if anything good can come from our shenanigans.
I’ll start with myself. Someone who means the world to me recently suggested that I’m the star-struck type. I love making friends with musicians, especially when I’m a fan of their music. It sounds sick, but I’m kind of proud that some locally famous “rock star” types read this blog and think I’m worth having a conversation with. I get the same way when respected people in my industry give me the time of day, not to mention other writers. Sometimes, my desire for acceptance in these circles will influence how I dress and even how I talk.
I’m almost ashamed to admit it all. If there’s any redeeming aspect of this, it’s that my star-struck nature has led me to some real friendships — friendships that have made me a better person. And if someone is an asshole, I’m not going to try being their buddy no matter how much I love their music or respect whatever else they do for work. Still, I can’t deny the behavior exists.
It’s all the funnier because I can be the most judgmental fuck on the face of this planet when I see other people being fake.
When the wannabes think it’s cool to throw verbal bombs online to get attention (some call this trolling), I’m quick to stare down my nose at them. I pat myself on the back for not being a troll in these moments, but is that really true? I’m a product of the news business, where editors try to make headlines as attention-grabbing as possible. One could legitimately call that a form of trolling.
I know people who turn fake when they want the world to think they’ve found the perfect soulmate. They post lovey-dovey comments to each other on Facebook all day and jam cyberspace with pictures of them hugging and smiling. Then you find out from people close to them that it’s all for show, that they argue all the time.
There are those who want to be accepted in wealthy social circles even though they may not have a lot of money. They max their credit cards out on clothes and cars to look the part and kiss asses all day in the country clubs and five-star restaurants. Then they go home to their leaky roof, chipped paint and stack of unpaid bills.
Then there are those who want to be accepted so badly in the political world that they’ll pull their principles inside out and say whatever will make people like them. Mitt Romney, this year’s likely Republican nominee for president, has been accused of being this way. Al Gore was accused of it, too, as was John McCain. A pity, because they all show signs of greatness when they’re being themselves.
I think one of the reasons some of us become addicts is because we know we’re fake and want to numb the shameful feelings that go with that look in the mirror. I think it’s why some of us suffer from depression, too.
Nothing sucks quite like knowing you’re not keeping it real. Being fake is exhausting work.
So what do we do about it?
There’s probably not much we can do because we’re dealing with flaws at the very core of human nature. For my part, I just try to figure out who my real friends are along the way and try to nurture those relationships. Maybe some of my friendships started with me being a star-struck idiot (those friends would probably laugh at this, because they know they don’t qualify as genuine stars), but the ones that became real friendships have made me better.
Or, at least, it’s made me take a sober look in the mirror more often. Hopefully, the man that emerges over time will be the real deal.