Monday, April 9, 2012

Genuine or Fake?



The above article on Nature.com is about Imposter Syndrome, that feeling that we're not good enough, that we don't deserve what we have, and shouldn't be doing what we're doing. That is not entirely what I discuss below, and yet it is very pertinent to many of the questions I ask. More than anything I'm trying to get to the bottom of human interaction, and what it means to be genuine or fake. There are many aspects to this deep subject, and I do not intend to grasp everything here, but perhaps begin a search.

~*~

What does it mean to be fake? Perhaps many define this as doing something to gain popularity or to please others, though it's not who they really are. Is it the opposite to be genuine: someone who does something because it is who they are, not because they seek to have something because of it?

How do we know which is which? How do we know the motives of a man within his heart? Is it genuine or fake to accuse someone of being fake or praising someone for being genuine?

I would wager that it's not necessary to conclude whether someone is genuine or fake. We are all genuinely fake. If someone is fake (trying to be what they are not to gain the praise of peers), is it not his nature to be so? Isn't he acting upon his inner feelings? If someone is genuine, doesn't he still want something from others, be it love or affection or friendship? Aren't we all motivated by something else than the way we act?

Aren't those who accuse others of being fake themselves acting upon their own need for security, their lack of trust in others? The accuser and accused are opposite faces of one coin. One, from her insecurity, is trying to be something she is not. The other, from her insecurity, is projecting her own fears upon others.

Aren't both accuser and accused fakes, and aren't they both genuine? Aren't we all?

This may be the prime struggle of human beings within a society. The constant balancing act of peer to peer relationships. We see it in preschools, with children first learning how to make friends. We see it in national and international politics, when world leaders try to gain high ground through diplomacy or deception.

And yet the worst thing to be, it seems, is to be a fake. To be “real,” to be a real person, a real friend, a real leader, is the highest compliment an individual can receive.

This is very prominent in American gang culture, where thousands of people are on unsteady ground, where a single word can lead to violence, a misunderstanding can be death. The last thing a gang member wants to be perceived as is dishonest—to be a snitch or a buster. In ancient times, a man was only as good as his word.

But why is it that we are so concerned with what is real and unreal? Honest and dishonest? Genuine and fake? Is this a cultural trapping? Is it a personal need? Is it inherent to human beings to know who is with us and who is against us?

Or is it a sign that we have lost faith in our fellow humans? In the world itself.

The question of genuine or fake implies a certain level of trust; trust in human beings and in ourselves. Are we to get caught up in life's drama, in the social popularity contest, or are we to decide for ourselves that life is not a drama, that there is no contest?

I Can't Wait by The Real People

 

The Grand Illusion by Styx



The Stranger by Billy Joel
(Thanks Brenda!)

17 comments:

  1. You make some great points here. I think all humans at one time or another for some reason may have been fake. Yes, sometimes to gain praise from others, but sometimes maybe because of trying not to hurt others. Sometimes if we say everything we feel or think, we end up hurting others feelings, so we keep things bottled up inside. That is also not such a good thing. And people tend to be so judgemental that they chase some people into being 'fake' to themselves; some people fear to show their real feelings and heat because they are afraid to be judged or cast away. It is a shame that we cannot trust our fellow human beings to all deal with us in the best manner. But sometimes this fakeness is the only thing that protects us. And yet, we all desire to be real and to be our true selves. It is rare to find that friend that we can take off the mask with and just be who we really are...to be genuine for a moment. When we do, we can really find our purpose, build our strength and just maybe we will attempt to go against the world and be who we were really meant to be. That would be a dream. anyway, this is a great discussion topic. Thanks for provoking our thoughts, JR. You are truly unique (and that is something to be proud of). Take care!

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    1. That is beautifully written, Lena. And thank you :)

      It's very difficult to be genuine, and on some level, maybe most people aren't ready for it, even (especially?) those who go around accusing people of dishonesty with who they are.

      We do all wear a mask (some of us wear several, depending on whose company we're in), but I sometimes wonder if that mask is not also who we are...

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    2. Very well said. I'm not sure you leave anything for the rest of us to add other than thanks.

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  2. Well, wearing masks as an introvert is part of the way to cope with the world around me. Interesting questions asked providing some much need thought. That in itself is hard to find these days.

    On another note, as anyone carded you yet J.R.? I think the age for G+ at least 18 and you what 14 at best ;)

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    1. I'm plenty old enough to rock 'n' roll ;)

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  3. This was very interesting. I believe that we as humans are cautious and there is a certain amount of defensiveness that keeps us safe. Disclosing personal problems may seem like an honest and down to earth thing to do but it could also cause us to become vulnerable. I've laughed at jokes that I didn't think were funny simply to prevent the other person's feelings from being hurt. I've remained quiet when perhaps I should have spoken up, figuring it was senseless to argue as it was clear that no amount of talking would change this person's perception of a thing. So, we are real and fake for different reasons; but mostly we're real—and growing—and learning. There is no destination called truth or real, there are only fragile human beings trying to define these things. Okay...I've rambled on enough here. LOL!! I need a nap;)

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    1. That's very well said, Leah. A very good take on it!

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  4. Real or fake, all are both in my world anyway. I don't know how to be. I stay true to my heart, but the heart changes as we grow. Does that make my earlier beliefs fake? Just different I think. I agree with Leah an can't say it better. Great post JR, I am gladI hopped on to read for a bit.

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    1. Thanks, Jan. We aren't the people we once were, so I don't think things are fake now, if we no longer believe in them. Leah's comment was great!

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  5. Have a listen to Billy Joel's Strangers sond. I am always intrigued when topics I write about are theme across other sites I read. Although our poses are different the underlying theme is connected. I had a long conversation with a good friend tonight about people's masks, Tingles down the spine.

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    1. I've heard this before, Brenda, I wish I would have thought to include it! I'm going to add it now, though three songs is probably too many. Thank you.

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  6. It's strange that I recently wrote about this on my blog, JR. I do believe in human nature, but lately I've been seeing people faking who they are on Social Media. I don't mean anonymous blogs - I understand that. I'm talking about people pretending to be so much more than they are. I know it's easy to do, I've often done it myself. I think what matters is the intention. Are we faking something to cause hurt or cheat someone - that in my books is not on.

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    1. I think the risk is that we "want" to be something we're not. We want to be kind, but the reality of who we are can't bridge the gap, so when we're done "faking it" we're back to the person who we have always been. To me, that is incredibly sad and daunting.

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  7. When all we have is face value, and then we discover that someone's 'face' is merely a mask, we feel betrayed. Though we may all be true to our nature, judging face value is the only tool we have for deciding if trust is possible, and trust is like wearing your heart on your sleeve. Man, am I full of cliches today.

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    1. And whose fault is that? When we judge someone at face value, aren't we jumping to conclusions and taking a big risk that our "expectation" will be accurate to who they really are? When we get burned, are we more angry at ourselves (and take it out on them) or just angry at them for lying to us? But is it really lying...?

      I didn't see cliches, just some deep thoughts ;)

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  8. JR, I got a little confused because this didn't look like your blog, and then realized it is a new one. Great!
    Now, most have already said most of what I would have said, so I won't repeat their comments. Just letting you know that you picked a good subject to write about. It made me think about just how trusting I am with others and how many times it has caused me pain and heartache.

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    1. I'm very trusting as well, and get burned often (but not "that" often). It's not something that keeps me from going back for seconds and thirds, but I rarely go back with the same person and try again. I think the question as to whether we should trust others or not transcends the "are people real or fake" debate. People can be very real and hurt us. Human relationships are tricky even when they're simple, and they can grow very complicated very quickly :(

      Thank you, and I'm sorry about the confusion!

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