[blue rare]—In Praise of Artifice

There is nothing more repugnant to me than whatever is genuine, authentic, and heartfelt.  Give me the artificial and the sham any day of the week.  I’m sure the universe abounds with life forms that are not given to chicanery, deviousness, falsity, and deceit.  Human beings are not amongst them.

Let me give you a simple analogy here.  There are many good reasons for choosing not to use the remains of endangered species for the purposes of fashion or decor, the most obvious one being their prohibitive cost on the black market.  It’s far wiser and more tasteful to opt for a faux polar bear rug, say, or an imitation leopard skin catsuit.  As fetching as you might look wearing a necklace of sperm whale teeth, I would recommend cubic zirconia as a more pragmatic option.

Well, the same is true on a social and a moral level.  Feigned emotions are always more comfortable to experience than those that are raw and real.  Just as replica crocodile skin boots should be chosen over the genuine article, crocodile tears are infinitely preferable to actual ones, and often involve much less snot.

Too often, though, we act as though it is a bad thing when people put on a false front.  It’s paradoxical to me.  On the one hand, we praise certain actors who have the uncanny gift of disappearing into the roles they are taking on, convincing us during any given performance that they are truly anything from a celebrity chef to an astronaut, a Roman gladiator to a sectional sofa.  And yet we decry falseness and artificiality in our loved ones and in those who pretend to be our friends.  When we are faking laughter or faking orgasms, we are providing a sign of respect to those around us, letting them know that we are willing to put in the effort required to be disingenuous.

Fortunately, I’m not alone in feeling this.  In fact, I’m very much in keeping with the spirit of the age.  At long last, all that is bogus is getting its due.  Whether we are hiding behind deceptively fabricated social media identities, or hypocritically signalling our own virtue by denouncing the morality of once beloved icons, it has never been easier to jump upon the performative bandwagon.

I see this as being a very positive thing.  Nothing makes us feel better about our own lies, prejudices, sexual peccadilloes, past mistakes, and inner mean-spiritedness than being able to express mock indignation toward others for their perceived faults.  I believe it as a sure sign of our evolution as a species that we are increasingly able to unironically hold our fellow human beings to false and unattainable standards, and amplify our mock, often anonymous outrage at every opportunity.  This is only natural and right.  And thankfully, with our convenient capacity for self-delusion, we don’t even have to admit to or feel guilty about our little hypocrisies.

Reader, if you feel the same as I do, I sincerely hope you will make that extra effort to be the first to pretend to like this article.