“How can they be so gullible?” I ask this of my Facebook friends and family at least once a day. I’m “friends” with a staunch conservative woman that I would love to hang out with more, but she posts a ton of ridiculous nonsense about liberals – my political affiliation. For instance, yesterday’s propaganda binge included an obviously staged interview where liberals were approached and asked to sign a mandatory euthanasia petition against elderly folks. What? Now I know this woman as normally a likable and kindhearted person who tries to actively live out her Christian faith, yet she routinely posts stuff that I consider racist, and she genuinely believes that President Obama is the Anti-Christ. I have a difficult time wrapping my head around that contradiction in values, beliefs, and behaviors.
Likewise, I have lots of friends who are living the lives of their favorite television show, taking upon themselves those selected traits of fictional personas that they most identify with. Think Kardashian or Duck Dynasty. It happens with those who idolize other performers and musicians too. Yes, we have all copied other people’s behavior, but not to the extent that we would spend copious amounts of time and money creating an entirely alternative reality! The worst aspect of it is a disengagement from real life and real responsibilities. There is a definitive line that is crossed.
On the other hand, real people know the difference between fantasy and fact. They are able to balance work with play, even when it’s tough to keep pressing forward. Rather than being egocentric, genuine people are empathetic. They not only possess the capacity to not only care about other people’s lives but also occupying their shoes during times of difficulty or need. Authenticity requires periodic self-examination to identify and purge the buildup of fallacy and bias from one’s life. It accepts the challenge of imperfection as something to overcome rather than something that must be hidden. An earnest human being examines facts instead of accepting everything he or she is hand fed.