Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash
There is something to be said for authenticity. But I don’t think we give enough value to knowing when and how to properly lie.
You’ve probably read a billion self-help books touting the mantra of being yourself, but being fake just might be the true key to success. I’ll tell you why.
First, I’ve always thought that it’s too simple to think influencers simply want fame. Inherently, there is nothing about fame that makes it valuable. It’s intrusive and flighty- a fickle friend. No one in their right mind would pay for such an asset.
What celebrities and influencers and other famous people crave is not fame. It’s the connection, but on a much different scale than for regular people.
You see, everyone wants connection, but with everyday relationships, there is equitable distribution of current flow. Today, I rant to you, tomorrow you rant to me. Today, I need your help, tomorrow you need my help. The relationship we have with celebrities, however, is a bastardization of this. And it should be.
Realistically, the average human can only sustain so many relationships healthily. You cannot equitably share connections with millions of followers. There is simply not enough social battery.
And anyway, it’s not connection influencers are really after. It’s validation.
Tell me I’m good enough.
Tell me you like me.
And, in return, I’ll make you feel like you know me.
Isn’t that the unspoken deal?
They entertain you, you validate them.
Isn’t that fair?
Sure, the nature of the relationship leaves us susceptible to being manipulated by them. It’s the business model. People give them money to tell us what to buy, where to go, what pictures to take, and how to look.
But the truth is, it leaves them just as vulnerable as it does us.
It’s why they live in fear of cancel culture because they know that, at any point, their adoring audience could wake up to the fact that they (the audience) hold the true power in this relationship.
But, like dutiful lovers, we choose to believe in the illusion we have created.
The minute we don’t, the minute there is a crack in the mirage, the illusion dies and we are forced to face the reality that this relationship isn’t real, has never been real, and was simply a distraction from reality.
Then the influencers loses everything.
So, what’s the alternative for them?
Show no cracks.
Create a public persona and stick to it.
Lie but don’t get caught.
Fake it so hard that you’re no longer sure of the truth.
Give the people what they want so they buy your shit and leave you alone.
At the end of it, we, the people, are the ones who mold them into what we want, and they become the illusion we have created.
Celebrities are fake because they have to be. After all, it’s the only way to survive in an online world where social capital is the highest form of exchange. You don’t necessarily have to be liked- people get famous playing villains. But how much people want to see you matters, or at least, how much they want to see that image they created, who they think you are.
Real people are not images though. There are no good guys and bad guys, heroes, and villains. People are dynamic and colorful and not all that easy to define, but your viewers only want the part of you they identify as you.
So, what do you do?
You choose to remain the expected image they have created for you. You have to be airbrushed and perfect, articulated even in its imperfection.
For many influencers, this is preferable.
An image cannot hurt, an image cannot feel, and an image cannot cry.
Even for the average person, most people who don’t know you, don’t want you to be real. They want to be entertained, no matter what form that comes in. That’s why 99% of what is in reality shows is scripted.
As an artist, often the only path to sanity is to dissociate from the craft. Don’t share everything. Hold back.
After all, is authenticity not inherently selfish?
We want people to like us for who we are, but why should they?
Isn’t it better to accept the reality of things?
They will like you until they don’t.
They will support you until they don’t.
You don’t owe strangers your truth.
That is all.