There is no such thing as a fake person. I know this flies in the face of several articles we’ve run on this site, and I hope the authors of those articles don’t take this as any sort of an attack, but rather as a spirited discussion between contributors to an online magazine. Or something.
But yeah. Sorry, everyone. There is no such thing as a fake person. It’s a made-up concept. And I don’t only mean this in the literal, existential sense, being that we’re all “real” and everything. I mean I fundamentally reject the idea that people out there can be “fake.”
Why? Well, let’s look at the definition of a fake person. Part of the definition, as I understand it, is a fake person is supposedly someone who says one thing to your face and says something else behind your back. That makes them fake. Except it doesn’t really, if you think about it. If someone says something to your face and says something else about you to other people, that makes them just like every single person I’ve ever met in my entire life. (This is excepting a few special examples of really “good” people I’ve met, who refuse to joke around about people not present. These people, these good people, who tell you “Guys it’s best not to joke about someone not present” and “How would you feel if someone said this stuff about you?” usually strike me as holier-than-thou and sanctimonious and, to be honest, sort of gave me the willies. Everyone talks differently about people who are present vs. people who are not present. It sucks. I’m not saying it’s right. But it’s something we all do. So let’s cross that one off the list, or else we’re all going to be categorized as fake here, and not everyone can be fake.
(Well, not everybody can be fake unless you’re one of those annoying people in grad school who thinks that everyone who adheres to a capitalistic society is “fake,” in which case go back to the Nietzsche, dude.)
Next thing that makes someone fake, as I understand it from these lists: he/she is a person who disappears when you need them most. They don’t help you move apartments. They don’t comfort you when you went through a rough breakup. They aren’t THERE for you.
Listen. I am a writer. An insecure, Jewish, possibly hypochondriac writer. I am by no means a paragon of masculinity or independence. But guess what? I’m also a grown ass adult. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far in this weird, bizarre little life I’ve led, it’s that you don’t rely on other people. And not in a “Everyone sucks and I only need myself” way, but in a “Everyone is busy, and I am busy, and people who go out of their way to help me should not be EXPECTED to but should be celebrated as a fucking miracle, a gift from heaven, and I should buy them beer and offer them my car whenever they want.”
If you expect things out of other people, whether you expect them to help you move or expect them to be a shoulder for you to cry on — you’re being selfish. And I’ve found as soon as you stop expecting things out of people, and stop classifying everyone who won’t help you all the time as “fake,” they’re probably going to want to help you more. Maybe not. But guess what? In the words of my father and his father before him — that’s life. People don’t like helping other people move. People don’t like staying in on a Friday night to have someone cry into their shoulder. Don’t expect that out of anyone, and don’t label anyone as fake who doesn’t want to do that. They aren’t fake. They’re human beings.
(Before I go on, I will admit that there are two exceptions to this “no one is really fake” thesis, two exceptions that you might convince me of. One exception is a person who says they are things they are not. If you represent yourself as the Princess of Siam, and you are not the Princess of Siam, I guess that makes you fake. Well, more like a pathological liar, but I’d be willing to concede that one. The only other instance I can find of someone being “fake” is if they latch on to someone who is really wealthy, and pretends to like said person, with the underlying intention of getting said wealthy person to support them. Again, these could be considered con artists, but I guess you could convince me they are “fake.” I will grant you those two. I realize this torpedoes my whole “no one is really fake” argument, but I didn’t want to title this essay “There is No Such Thing as a Fake Person, Except for Like Two Exceptions, Maybe” because it doesn’t pack the same punch, you know? My apologies.)
The last thing I saw on these lists is that fake people make you feel like crap. Here’s the thing, though: people who make you feel like crap are not fake. People who make you feel like crap are just assholes. And while I don’t, for the most part, believe fake people exist, I do believe assholes exist.
And the only thing I can say to that is to try to get them out of your life. I know that’s a lot easier said than done in a lot of situations, and I can’t pretend to know all of you, even if this site does purport to be relevant and relatable to each and every one of your special little selves. But one of the great gifts of adulthood that I’ve come to understand is that I get to choose the people I surround myself with. If someone is a drag, or talks shit about everyone, or makes me feel smaller than I normally otherwise would… guess what? I don’t call them anymore. If I do see them, I might smile, and wave, and say we should hang out sometime. But I won’t really mean it. Which I guess, by these standards, would probably classify me as fake. So it goes.