So, apparently “being fake” is the modern day equivalent to being a serial killer or a tramp kicker. It’s the go-to insult to really drive home how truly abhorrent someone is. They’re a snake, they’re not real, they’re playing a game: these phrases are bandied about celebrity Twitter accounts and reality TV as the ultimate put-down.
And, sure, it’s not nice to be bitchy or to be two-faced but is it really legitimate to claim that being fake is the worst character flaw out there? Or is it actually the thing that that enables us to be civilised citizens of modern day society?
My ultimate heroine, Tulisa, has made the insightful point that, “People pretend to be, a lot of the time, what they’re not” and this is what she hates about the music industry. She makes a fair point, people will do that. But there are two incredibly irritating things about this statement:
1) Who is Tulisa kidding? She is as fake as the next overly-marketed, overly-branded female popstar. It’s just that her branding strategy has gone quite wrong in recent times.
2) In real life, this disgusting, vile fakery is what stops us from ruining friendships by telling our mates that they do, in fact, look fat in that outfit. It is what prevents us from getting into fights by ignoring the drunk man on the Tube.
Fakery is not just a preventative measure: it can also be used positively to help us achieve. For example, job interviews – we can portray a ‘fake’ persona of a professional, capable individual in order to convince people that we are perfect for the job. Let me caveat this: I am not condoning lying. I am merely highlighting the fact that the chirpy, super enthusiastic, hyper hard-working woman in the interview is not sustainable for the duration of the job. We all have a number of ‘fake’ characters that we play in different contexts in order to achieve different results. If I was 100% myself 100% of the time, the only people who would be interested in communicating with me would probably be my parents (because of that unconditional stuff).
And the flip side of this trend is that ‘being real’ and ‘honesty’ are the characteristics used to justify being a complete idiot and behaving inappropriately. On the Tube the other day, an unassuming man near me moves seats to sit next to his friend. This seat also happens to be next to a 14 year old girl who exclaims “What the f*** you sitting next to me for? You f***in’ paedo! I’m just being honest, you’re a f***in’ paedo!” No he’s not. He’s a man wanting to sit next to his friend. You’re not being honest. You’re being an insufferable imbecile with no sense of how to act in normal society.
So ‘being real’ is not an excuse for being nasty when the correct course of action should be to apologise and re-think your behaviour for the next time this scenario comes about. We should discard this commonly perpetrated illusion that we have a core being to which we must always adhere. If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we will realise that we should aspire to change in our character: to employ fakery when necessary to appropriate our actions. And this will lead us, ultimately, to become better people.
Author: Vicky Noble