All That Glitters is Ersatz


TV feels fake. That’s obviously no surprise to most of you (sorry wrestling fans), but I have been feeling the fakery extra strongly lately. It’s as if my senses have become sharper, more astute when observing things. TV feels fake. The news feels fake. Politics feels fake. Food tastes fake. People feel fake. I don’t mean they’re purposely being duplicitous, just that the emotions I sense from them feel fake.

That feeling could, every last bit of it, start with me. I may be imagining it, I may be projecting it onto others, but I cannot deny that the feeling is there. It’s not a feeling that is universal, either. There are people who feel as real and as genuine as ever, and don’t give off that feeling of mendacity. It is rare, but I know them by name, and if I don’t know them, then I try to learn their names.

I am a man of my word. That’s not to say I never lie, because I have, and on occasion still do depending upon the circumstance. I do my best, however, to be completely open about who I am. If I smile, I’m smiling because I feel happy. If I’m frowning, you can be sure my mood is dark and brooding. When I make a promise, I move heaven and earth to keep it, so I don’t make promises lightly. I just don’t feel like I can take most people at their word anymore. Promise after promise broken time and time again, and when they make a new promise they’re surprised when I don’t accept it as golden gospel right away.

I’ve become cynical and pragmatic, less idealistic and optimistic. Part of that, I’m sure, is world experience, but there used to be a deep reservoir of optimism that gave me motivation and strength. It’s empty. What’s annoying is I still get people who tell me that things will get better. I say this with love, but you folks do realize that when you tell a cynical pragmatist that things will get better, they’ve already built up a mental litany of reasons as to why your statement is bullshit, right? Because they have. Try this: next time you tell your weary and cynical friend that things will get better, watch the light appear in their eyes. Don’t be fooled; That’s not hope, that’s sarcasm, and it’s about to show itself to you, unless you have a friend who holds their tongue. In that case, you may have never noticed the effect before, but it’s there. Watch for it. Learn from it.

That solicitude, I might add, often feels forced to the listener. It almost always feels forced to me. Sometimes I think people offer condolences and sympathy out of some sense of rote compassion, but they lack the genuine feeling behind the sentiment. I don’t know, it’s just a gut feeling I have. Again, that goes back to whether or not these feelings come from me, or whether I’m reading them correctly.

The whole world seems like it should be real, but feels so very fake. I just don’t know what to think about that.




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