#130: The enduring appeal of fakeness, and the path to true identity

One thought from me: The appeal of fakeness

The phrase, “Do as I say, not what I do”, has approximately 300,000 results on Google. It’s often reserved for politicians, but it’s also offered up in relation to preachers, parents, and almost any public figure.

For all that we say we value openness, honesty, transparency, integrity, there’s a strong sense in what we do that we find great appeal in fakeness too.

Whether it’s a magician’s sleight of hand, or our enduring vulnerability to falling victim to too-good-to-be-true scams, or our aspiration to be seen in a better light than we see ourselves — resulting in the multi-billion-dollar industry that produces everything from the lipstick in the bathroom cabinet to the growth of permanent make-up tattoos to cosmetic surgery that nips here and tucks there — fakeness seems to appeal greatly to us.

It’s greatly apparent in these times we’re living through, as broadcasters make TV sports without stadium crowds more palatable with either fake fan noise or CGI-implanted fans in the seats.

So it’s worth asking the question: what do we truly value? Do we value integrity and transparency and honesty? Or is fakeness easier to deal with? Is fakeness in the moment more palatable than considering the big questions of truth and authenticity?

Perhaps it is something ingrained in human nature itself, but it’s worth considering, because it seems impossible to have both. It seems impossible to value truth while hiding that truth from the world.

One thought from someone else: The path to true identity

Steven Pressfield is a novelist and screenwriter. His first published novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, which was later made into a Hollywood movie directed by Robert Redford and starring Will Smith and Charlize Theron, was published in 1995, when Pressfield was 52.

He had worked a long array of jobs as he tried to make a go of his true calling to write and create art, and lived out of his car for a spell while doing so.

He is perhaps best known these days for The War of Art, a sort of self-help bible for creatives … and he classifies creatives as a broad expanse of humanity, “from starting a plumbing supply business to running for political office”.

As a part of that vocation, he writes Writing Wednesdays, a short weekly blog for writers about writing.

This week’s piece — “Get to True Identity” — jumped out at me, and not for the act of writing at all, but for what it says about our lives. We are on a quest to get to true identity. To find a way, however we can do it, to shuffle off the fakeness that protects us, and to fully inhabit our true identities.

Here’s a pathway. Pressfield writes:

Pick any one of a thousand books or movies (dramas, tragedies, comedies … the principle applies across the board) and you’ll see more often than not this paradigmatic progression:

Act One: Hero starts with a warped and deformed self-conception (Huck, Thelma, Bogey).

Act Two: Hero is compelled by events and her own decisions to embrace a new and initially terrifying (to her) view of herself.

Act Three: In climax, hero embraces this new identity-what we as viewers and readers can see clearly as her true identity-whole-heartedly and in a manner that permits of no going back.

Read the full “Get to True Identity” piece here

One question for you

Where are you adopting true authenticity in your life? Where are you relying on any lingering fakeness?


Quick update about Magnificent Irrelevance…

This is a new project. A shot in the dark with the aim of delivering something meaningful for a small but committed niche of people around the world.

Magnificent Irrelevance got a new homepage headline this week — Soul-searching sportswriting — and I really like where this is going. It feels right.

The project is called Magnificent Irrelevance, and you can find all about it here. or sign up for separate Friday updates on the development of that here.

Magnificent Irrelevance - Soul-searching sportswriting