We live in a world where everything is fake: news, eyebrows, democracy, the list goes on. But the more I think about it, the more I feel like I’m also faking everything most of the time and that might not be a bad thing.
I’ve come to realise that the familiar adage “fake it ‘til you make it” should come with the additional line, “and then keep faking it forever.” Because as Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage.” (Incidentally I could tell you which play that quote is from, the name of the character who says it, and even recite the few lines that follow. I wrote essays about it at both high school and university but the truth is I never actually read the whole thing. I was faking it.)
So here are a few ways to fake your way through just about anything:
Faking confidence is the first step to faking everything else, and if you’re not someone who is naturally confident then try to channel someone who is. Whenever I’m in a situation where I need to appear more confident than I am, I just imagine I’m James Bond. I know it sounds stupid but think about it. James Bond is always at parties where he doesn’t know anyone, but does he sit in the corner all night avoiding eye-contact? No, he drinks endless cocktails and makes inappropriate comments to other men’s wives. (Remember that you should never actually behave like James Bond. Only be him in your head)
If you’re going to pretend to know more about something than you do, then try to know something. For example if you want people to think you read a shakespeare play, learn a couple of quotes. If you want people to think you play guitar (or if you just want to be the most annoying person at any party) then learn the chords to ‘Wonderwall’.
In the 1950s Ferdinand Waldo Demara blagged his way into the Canadian Navy as a military doctor. He performed a lot of actual surgeries on patients before he was eventually rumbled (by the real doctor whose identity he had stolen no less.) Now Demara might not have been a real doctor but I bet he knew some medical jargon and had practised cutting up a few dead animals.
The point I’m trying to make is, if you want to seem competent at something at least do the bare minimum of research. Everything else is pure audacity.
This one is simple. Start wearing glasses, carry around a paperback of the communist manifesto, listen exclusively to ambient electronica, give your pet the name of an obscure philosopher, and write essays about how all these superhero movies are evidence of humanity’s approaching demise. In social situations say as little as possible but scoff intermittently at your idiot peers and their derivative opinions.
At one time or another we’ve all found ourselves at a party, or a work thing, or in my experience, a family wedding, stuck in a conversation with the most boring person in the room. If you’re thinking that’s never happened to you, well I have some bad news...
But in these situations it’s all about body language. Nod your head a lot, resist the urge to let your eyes drift over to something more exciting happening elsewhere, and yes, you can respond with your best fake laugh, but you better be sure it’s an appropriate reaction to whatever dull thing is being said.
And if you really can’t handle this kind of social torture then go ahead and fake a phone call.
Faking Emotional Stability
Jokes aside, I know it’s good to talk to people about how you’re feeling, especially if what you’re feeling is depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. That being said, when your grandma sees you, she wants to be reassured that you’re eating enough and generally doing okay. She doesn’t want to hear about how your drug fuelled weekend has left you questioning your identity, or about how your cheating ex has left you with constant paranoia and panic attacks that mean no one will ever love you again. In short, faking happiness is like faking orgasms, it’s about making other people feel good.
Faking the way you feel is also necessary for all kinds of things such as job interviews and bad dates, but it can be difficult. One trick is to perfect a smile that looks as genuine as the real deal. You can find actual instructions of how to do just this, because, you know, the internet. Another tip is to try and be that boring person at the party I was just talking about. Don’t speak too much about your fear of death, or too passionately about fringe politics, because people might start to suspect the truth, that you’re more than a little unhinged.