Have you ever been talking to someone with a giant smile plastered across their face when you suddenly realized: they clearly don’t give a shit what I’m saying?
Have you ever asked for help and somebody sympathized so much and then the next day they had forgotten all about your issue?
We’re living in a cruel circus these days that seems to be erasing the humanity of many of us.
Lately, I’ve been asking myself:
Why are people so fake?
I thought a little more about this and I’ve come up with some answers.
Why are people so fake? The top 13 reasons
1) Stuck in the rat race
The rat race is not a very enjoyable place to be.
Traffic, mortgages, fights with your partner, health issues…
The rat race might be profitable, but it also produces fake people. And if you’ve come across a lot more fake people lately it’s probably because you’re seeing what comes from a high-speed, fast-food culture.
Tired, fake nice people without energy or goodwill to spare.
Folks who’ve been brainwashed or chosen to believe that a me-first attitude will pay off in the end.
It’s a shortsighted, hamster-on-the-wheel mentality.
Just make sure you’re not also part of it before you judge too harshly…
“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”
2) Social media addiction
If it’s not on Instagram it never happened, didn’t you know?
It’s easy to make fun of social media addiction but the truth is it’s a serious issue.
And you know one of the main things it leads to? People who are faker than a three dollar bill as they chase likes, retweets, and “clout.”
This digital dopamine dispensary that most of us are hooked up to has plenty of benefits.
But when you read stories about people risking their lives leaning out of train windows on an overpass for the perfect ‘Gram then you know we’re in some truly bizarre territory.
Adopting a conscious and artificial persona for public consumption online has some seriously odd consequences.
One of them is people consciously crafting a “cool” or “unique” image that is often, you guessed it, fake.
“It’s obvious that what social media does to us, especially those of us who are heavy users, is not natural, or normal. It’s not normal to submit opinions for approval every day to an online crowd, nor is it normal to consume the opinions of strangers in bulk.
It’s not normal to live under the surveillance of software companies, which tailor their advertising with such eerie precision that it seems impossible that they are not listening in on our conversations,”
3) Materialistic morons
In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with caring about material things like money, having a nice house, and making enough money to live comfortably.
Where this crosses the line into materialism is about the time that someone stops caring about those around them – even their family and friends – in favor of material gain.
It’s when people begin literally judging you by the brands you wear or the quality of your car.
It’s when healthy compassion for the poor and disadvantaged becomes haughty scorn and “guess they should’ve worked harder” asshole attitude.
Nobody’s impressed, trust me.
The nouveau riche are especially susceptible to becoming materialistic morons because they have no taste or real appreciation for the benefits of money and tend to funnel it all into status-seeking and personal aggrandizement.
On the other hand, some wealthy people I’ve met are the most brilliant, compassionate people I’ve come across, so this isn’t just a “class” thing either.
Materialistic morons exist in every society and they make the world a worse place.
4) Fear of offending
With cancel culture all around us and political correctness at all-time highs, the fear of offending is very much a real factor in why some people choose to adopt a fake persona.
In our daily lives and even in some friendships it can be very time-consuming, exhausting, and upsetting to address disagreements and controversial topics head-on at all times.
Sometimes it’s just easier to adopt a bit of a bland nod-and-smile approach.
Sure, sure, do your thing, my friend! We live in many modern societies where people increasingly just “don’t want to go there” and many issues have been so ruled off-limits that anyone who feels any different learns to basically shut their mouth.
As someone who doesn’t really line up on various issues with the mainstream, politically correct viewpoints:
Trust me, I’ve been there.
Am I fake? I’d like to think definitely not, but self-observation isn’t always objective after all…
Robin Ely, Debra Meyerson, and Martin Davidson address this topic really well for the Harvard Business Review:
“In cultures regulated by political correctness, people feel judged and fear being blamed.
They worry about how others view them as representatives of their social identity groups. They feel inhibited and afraid to address even the most banal issues directly.”
5) They’re living up to an artificial image
Many times you meet a fake person you can dig a bit below the surface and see that they’re trying to live up to an artificial image.
They have seen stereotypes in the media, among their peers, or other places that they feel they want to “be” and so they adopt the outer mannerisms, accents, style, and beliefs of a certain “type.”
One problem: it’s not actually them.
What about in relationships?
A fake person won’t bring out the best version of their partner when their own self-image is artificial.
The antidote to this is diving deeper into what he or she really wants from you. What makes them tick when it comes to a relationship?
To learn how to bring out the authentic self of any man, watch this quick video. The video reveals a natural male instinct that few women know about (but the ones who do have a massive advantage in love).
6) Damaging upbringings
If you’re asking why are people so fake, often the best place to begin your investigation is their own upbringing.
Children raised in very strict, abusive, neglectful, loveless, or conflicted homes can end up with a false persona that they present to the world to avoid being hurt any further. This is often marked by a kind of false bravado, or can take the form of someone who is manipulative and a smooth talker but has no real genuine intentions underneath.
Damaging upbringings have consequences.
I’m not saying everyone who had issues growing up is going to hit the scene with Dissociative Identity Disorder or become a scam artist, but they are probably going to have some parts of themselves that at least feel “off” or seem fake to many people they come across.
One typical example would be kids who feel neglected and grow up learning to “fake cry” or produce pretend emotions to get what they want.
As Janet Lansbury writes:
“I own a childcare and have a little 2.5-year old girl who “fake cries” nearly all day. Really, out of the 9 hours that she is with me, 5-8 are spent crying. Yet she has never shed a tear, and she is instantly ecstatic when she gets her way about something (pure joy).”
Fast-forward 20 years and that little girl might be fake crying to her boyfriend in order to get him to quit his job and move to a new place with her even though it will torch his future.
7) Desire for conformity
Never underestimate the desire for conformity.
Group belonging and the desire for Tribe is a powerful and healthy urge.
But when we allow that desire to be manipulated by others without our best interests in mind who then use guilt, greed, and fear to exploit and use us for their own agendas, we can easily wander far off track.
The desire for conformity can make people fake.
They repeat opinions they know are popular and “good.”
They dress in ways that seem popular or “cool.”
They do careers that are expected and “smart.”
In short: they become fake pawns in a fake system and end up miserable and full of self-hate while still clinging to the illusion even harder because they thought that following what they were told is “normal” will save them.
Spoiler: it won’t.
As educational consultant Kendra Cherry writes:
“Normative influence stems from a desire to avoid punishments (such as going along with the rules in class even though you don’t agree with them) and gain rewards (such as behaving in a certain way in order to get people to like you).”
8) Easily influenced by marketing
What do marketers want? Easy: consumers.
Fake people are often the products of high-level social engineering and marketing that’s made them into a certain type of demographic almost without them realizing it.
“Forty-something married homeowner with an interest in cars? Ha, I can sell to those guys in my fucking sleep, man.”
When you fall into the kind of “type” that a marketing big brain created you to be at the end of a boardroom table you end up losing a part of yourself.
Without even realizing it in some cases, you start trimming parts of yourself and your interests, quirks, beliefs, and dreams in order to fit what you think you’re “supposed” to be.
But the thing is you don’t have to buy that latest v-neck sweater, tank top, or flashy sportscar.
And even if you do it’s only one part of who you are, not some kind of whole “package” you have to fit into because some marketing firm thinks you do.
9) Trapped in transactionalism
Reciprocity is great: you scratch my back, I scratch yours.
Nothing wrong with that.
But transactionalism is a little different. It’s very materialist and utilitarian. Unless I can “get” something from you I switch off like a cyborg.
People who are trapped in transactionalism often come across as fake, unfriendly, or disappointing because that’s exactly what they are.
They only want to interact with or be involved with you in any way to get something.
It’s not always physical either. Some people may want to be your friend to leech off your status, for example, or date you because you’re physically attractive and will boost their image in public.
Transactionalism is for losers, but you’d be surprised how many people are trapped in it.
Even in relationships, fake people seek a transaction. It’s all about what they can get — sex, a trophy partner, or just a companion.
The antidote is giving your partner what they need to live their best life. If you want some help doing this in your relationship, check out this excellent video.
You’ll learn about a little known “male instinct” which is probably the best kept secret in relationship psychology.
10) Focused on fame
Fame is a powerful drug, but perhaps the only more powerful social drug is fame-seeking.
When you’re looking to get fame, “clout” or social popularity there are many lengths you will go to.
One reason so many people these days seem faker than ever is that our celebrity-obsessed culture has turned them into attention hawks with no appreciation for life or other people.
They’d practically let their family go homeless if they could go on Jimmy Kimmel and they’ve lost interest in the basics of life.
“I deserve x, I deserve y” are the words of a fame-seeking attention whore.
Does it surprise you to know that this sort of person tends to be just a little on the fake side?
Author Scott Frothingham puts it well:
“Attention-seeking behavior may stem from jealousy, low self-esteem, loneliness, or as a result of a personality disorder. If you notice this behavior in you or someone else, a mental health professional can provide diagnosis and treatment options.”
11) Lack of compassion
Any of us can be guilty of this, but fake people tend to be those who are particularly lacking in the compassion department.
They look at life and see one thing: how far they can get, regardless of the personal cost to their relationships or values.
This leads to looking around at those suffering or less fortunate and only see obstacles.
Lack of compassion is a serious problem.
It doesn’t mean you should go around throwing a pity party for anyone who’s having a hard time, more like you should at least be feeling truly sympathetic.
When your cold heart truly feels nothing you just might be fake.
12) First World arrogance
Those of us who live in the First World inhabit a very specific – and in some ways unusual – sphere of existence.
Much of the world still struggles with savage war, food instability, massive corruption, extreme poverty, pollution, and lack of access to basics like clean water and health care.
But here in the First World, we live in perhaps the most materially blessed nations of all human history where we can expect delicious food sitting on the grocery store shelves when we show up.
We work at jobs that pay us the kind of money that a poor worker in Indonesia or Ghana could only dream of.
And that arrogance – and material privilege – can quite frankly turn some of us a bit fake.
Why are people so fake?
One reason is when they come from cultures where things are so relatively easy compared to many other places it can make them just plain out of touch.
Entitlement doesn’t look good on anybody and it makes people a bit less genuine.
13) Their corporate role has eclipsed their humanity
If you’ve ever dealt with someone in a corporate or business role who left you feeling you’d just spoken to an actual android then you know what I’m talking about.
Clipped, impersonal statements; a wooden tone of voice like they’re talking to a wall. The thousand-yard stare right on you.
Over the phone it’s similar:
Fake niceness and understanding (“I’m so sorry sir, I completely understand”) that does nothing to solve your problem.
And so on.
It’s all so tiresome and fake.
But at the end of the day, it’s not always that person’s fault. Some companies and customer service roles are very demanding about how their employees interact with people and mold them into a kind of polite robot.
It can be hard to deal with but try your best to be patient and understanding with folks who have masked their personality for the sake of a paycheck, after all, it can happen to the best of us.
No fake people allowed
When I was about 10 I put a sign on my door:
No GiRls ALLoWed
Now that I’m 36 I want to update that sign:
No fake people allowed.
Sorry, fake people. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that life’s pretty short and I don’t really have time to spend on superficial bullshit.
You may be fake for a good reason, but until you’re ready to come clean about it and let your true self shine out there’s not a lot that I – or anyone else can do.
I know that underneath every fake person is a genuine, raw person waiting to emerge.
And I want to help people find and express that.
But if you choose to be fake the most I can do is give you some friendly advice:
Drop the act, amigo, ‘cause nobody’s buying it.
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