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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Shopping for Truth: Fakeness

Published: September 12, 2008
Section: Opinions

If life is a stage are we really all just actors? If second chances are just that, then how come we always seek a third or a fourth? And if someone appears to be nice, why can they turn out to be a, well you know.

Unfortunately, I think I’d be setting myself a pretty big goal to answer all these questions in one column, but maybe I can share some important perspectives I’ve recently gained.

At this point in my life, I’ve never been more convinced that we all should come equipped with one thing: a set of x-ray vision glasses (mine would be pink of course). These goggles would allow us to see through the pretenders. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of fake people out there.

We’ve all experienced the age-old story where someone pulls the wool over your eyes and you’re left scratching your head wondering how you didn’t see through them. But enough metaphors for one sentence. Fakeness is prevalent in so many areas of life-current events, politics, and yes, even our beloved school in the form of half-baked friendships.

For example, John Edwards’ recent adulterous scandal, Boston’s two recent pretenders of Albert Arroyo-the ‘injured body building pretender- and Clark Rockefeller-man of many identities but no memory of his past- all prove that a lot of people aren’t what they portray themselves to be.

We’re all guilty of being a bit fake; let’s not kid ourselves. We all put on pretenses to present ourselves in a shiny light. For example, isn’t it amazing how people always clean up so nicely for job interviews? And on the first day of classes, everyone puts on their friendly face, but then you get to know everyone and you can easily separate the pretenders from the genuine souls.

A facial expression or a gesture can go a long way. Even though you might not know it, you might be presenting a fake and actually genuine image all at once. For example, there’s nothing that gets me more upset than when someone who clearly thinks they’re God’s gift to the Earth tries to pretend they’re not by playing the modesty card. But when the cameras are off and the crowd has dispersed, there they are, and the reality isn’t as pretty as you thought it would be.

So, when does the honeymoon end and when do mere acquaintances or even supposed ‘best friends’ show their true colors? What happens when someone you hold close makes a mistake and you decide to forgive and forget? What happens when someone has exhausted their stock of second chances? And do second chances really foster a culture of fakeness?

There’s a reason they call it a second chance, people. Because second means second and final. I guess it all sort of relates to my column on saying what you mean to say two weeks ago. If we were all more honest-both with ourselves and others- we would realize that repeatedly saying we will change and never actually doing so is a waste of energy and emotion.

There are only so many times someone can “promise” they will do better and there are only so many times you can regret foolishly believing that someone will do so. So why do we allow people to continually fool us? Perhaps it’s the fact that we’re so ready to assign labels such as “best friend” to those we hardly know, and immediately let them in our inner circles. Or maybe we’re just naïve. Maybe it’s a combination of them all. Who knows?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for forgiveness, but I think that encouraging endless second chances only encourages people to continue to be fake. If there are absolutely no repercussions for our mistakes, of course we’re going to go on making them until someone stands up and puts us in our place. But how can we recognize those who will only disappoint us?

Over the summer, I met an amazing person who told me they had cut all the fat out of their life, and by fat, she meant friends. I’ve always valued the one on one relationship with a best friend and now realize more than ever how vital it is to be honest with yourself and decide which people really matter in your life.

A recent chain email I received “There comes a point in your life when you realize: who matters, who never did, who won’t anymore…and who always will.” This is something I think a lot of people just don’t realize.

As one of my fellow columnists formerly pointed out last year, we are too quick to trust that people are our ‘best friends.’ And it seems like deeming random acquaintances as close friends only sets us up for disappointment.

If someone is a friend, than they should be held to a higher level and you should be able to count on their word. But someone who acts like your best friend then ignores you all of a sudden or continually seeks another second chance isn’t worth your time.

As I’ve formerly said, I find it a waste of my time to pad a Facebook resumé with a list of faceless friends. And I firmly believe that what you see should be what you get. So stop pretending to be perfect when you’re not.

Call it stage fright, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to jump on this bandwagon of fakeness that seems to be permeating our highway of life.