Fake is the new reality. It’s so widespread that this may well be referred to as the Age of Fake. News pundits, media, our relationship to our bodies, and selves, and political leadership are being socially transformed by appearances, money, and power. For the benefit of the planet, leaders who are in office or running for office, should be required to state their fake score, based on lies and distortion, for all to see. A score of ten is super fake. If scores were announced today, Putin would score a 10, Xi tied at 10, Kouminin 9.5, Ted Cruz 9.5, and on and on. Tucker Carlson, pundit on FOX News, would score a double 10, winner hands down. How do we behave in this new age?
Fake is real
Fake is the new real. It’s on trend and global. From political leaders to entrepreneurs to ordinary individuals everyone is in on the act. Leaders and citizens alike have begun to confuse fake explanations and behaviors for real ones. Masses of people are living “as if” they were happy wearing costumes at a giant masquerade ball. If the 20th century was labeled the “age of anxiety,” the 21st century might well be labeled the “age of fake.”
Animals and insects use fake markings, eyes, and postures to further their survival. Opossums, for instance, enter an involuntary catatonic state to ward off predators. They are not really dead. It may be the opposite for humans. The penchant for fake maybe reduces our chances of survival. It’s too early in the cycle of fake to tell.
One thing is for certain, fake is presenting new interpersonal and governance challenges. While fake has always been a part of human social life, the extent of fake is now prevalent at all levels of political discourse and in mass populations.
Imagine this scene. She looks 28 or 30 years old, sitting poolside in Mexico. It’s a beautiful day, and she’s crying. I walk over and ask her why she’s so upset. I thought it might be sadness due to a death in the family or of a beloved pet. She tells me that she just had her “boobs done” for her boyfriend and he doesn’t like them, “he’s rejecting me.”
People who use Tinder to find a mate or date are often surprised because their date’s appearance in real time doesn’t match the image presented on the app. They look older, fatter, and less attractive in person, which are common complaints by both men and women.
Alice marvels at the diamond ring given to her by her fiancé. It weighs one full carat and looks stunning on her hand. The engagement didn’t work out, and her fiancé told her she could keep the ring. Alice takes the ring to an appraiser to insure it. The appraiser takes the ring into the back room to analyze it. He returns and says it’s beautiful, but it’s fake. There’s no need to insure it. She wonders if the appraiser switched the real diamond for a fake one.
Fake in politics is widespread. Former U.S President Donald Trump epitomizes leadership by fake. According to him, he didn’t really lose the 2020 Presidential elections. It was stolen by the Democrats. This attempt at fake politics was supported by 60% of Republicans in positions of leadership. He didn’t really take classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, his golf estate, violating Federal law, he made the mental decision to exempt himself from legal doctrine covering classified documents. He didn’t really run a fake real estate school, rape or harass women, although he settled all of these law suits out of court for tens of millions of dollars.
Russia President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine based on the fake pretense that Ukraine was controlled by Nazis, and it presented problems for Russia. The President of Ukraine is Jewish. When Putin approved launching a missile to blow up a Ukrainian shopping mall killing scores of individuals, he claimed that the intensity of the explosion was caused by bombs hidden by Ukrainians in the basement of the mall. He generates a new fake explanation for unleashing terror every day.
China President Xi claims that over one million Muslim Uyghurs in China are free to move around the countryside as they wish, in spite of satellite images showing them incarcerated in giant prisons. He is now busy introducing “new freedoms” into Hong Kong by arresting dissidents, burning history books, and rewriting them to favor his view of history. Speak out and you disappear or are locked up.
Isaac Herzog, President of Israel, claims that Palestinians are not oppressed by Israel, nor does an apartheid situation exist. Palestinians, according to President Herzog, choose to live behind a steel fortress wall that separates them from Israel. The fortress wall is 440 miles long and 25 feet tall. The Berlin Wall, by comparison, measured 27 miles long and 11.8 feet high. Recently, Shireen Abu Akleh, an American veteran correspondent who covered Palestinian-Israeli conflicts for Al Jazeera, a news outlet, was killed by an Israeli military sniper. She was shot in the neck just below the protection of her helmet. The President and military first denied that the bullet was fired by one of their men or women, then changed positions, and stated that it might have been fired by their own military personnel, and this changed again to our military fired it, but it was a mistake. No further discovery or prosecution takes place.
Current U.S President Joe Biden is an accomplice to fake. He met with Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the crown prince of Saudi Arabia not long ago. The CIA identified the Crown Prince as having ordered the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist with U.S. residence in 2018. President Biden behaved with tolerance and social amnesia. He also disagreed with an international opinion on the investigation into the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, strongly promoting the position that Israel was free to conduct its own impartial investigation. Impartial takes on new meaning in the age of fake.
Fake is rife in business as well as politics. Elizabeth Holmes recently fabricated an entire bio-tech business, raising hundreds of millions of dollars based on bogus claims and “data”. She was the darling of Silicon Valley. She even looked the part with her black turtle neck shirts. Everyone who invested wanted to believe her fake story.
Gina Champion-Cain, a former work associate of mine, was recently convicted of running a $400 million Ponzi scheme in San Diego. She raised money for investments in fake liquor licenses and built an empire of patio-oriented restaurants. Unfortunately for investors, her empire was fake. She was so good at fake that her attorney once described her to me as a very successful restaurateur. Bernie Madoff, an exemplary model of fake, defrauded investors out of an estimated $17.5 billion before going to prison. One could say with a jaundiced sense of humor, it is a waste of good talent.
Boeing recently settled a lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice for $2.5 billion. The lawsuit demonstrated that Boeing faked the safety of the Boeing 737 to the Federal Aviation Administration Aircraft Evaluation Group and the public. The Boeing 737 had a history of plane crashes, which Boeing lied about, killing 346 passengers.
In the most recent U.S. economic crisis 2008, almost every banking institution was faking liquidity, and lending money to people who were faking income and assets. Banks went as far as leaning money market funds to fake solvency. The leading bond rating agencies S&P, Moody’s, and Fitch were found guilty of inflating the credit worthiness of scores of major corporations, triggering trillions of dollars of losses. The Federal government, under the Obama administration, approved these fake business practices by insuring the bad loans of banks, which were paid for by taxpayer money. The punishments for illegal behavior were essentially non-existent.
Wells Fargo bank opened multiple fake accounts in customers’ names, and then began to charge for accounts that few actually opened. They did this for years on end. The numbers looked great, almost too good to be true. Senior executives rewarded themselves handsomely. Warren Buffet was a major shareholder in the bank and defended the expert level of the bankers. He did this quietly while he sold most, if not all, of his shares.
Fake is prevalent primarily because individuals want to feel in control of their lives. They prefer simple explanations to real ones. Conspiracy theories at least promise total explanations of events, and alternative facts seem to make sense, even though they are false and misleading. It almost seems normal to want total explanations, large diamonds as an expression of love, or the promise of easy money. Who doesn’t want to be a hero with less effort? If you don’t like the appearance of your body or your daily mood, alter it with surgery or pills. You can get help faking it from doctors and big pharma who are all too willing to help out.
Fake is further driven by greed. If you want astounding returns, invest with people who are good at fake. Fake pays, as the penalties for fake, outside of exceptional cases, are non-existent. Former President Trump has inflated the value of his real estate, faked reports to major banks and tax agencies, faked the use of donations, and still is trying to decide if he should run for a second term as U.S. president. He entirely understands the Art of The Deal in the age of fake.
What you can do
Suggestions for how you might behave in the Age of Fake include,
- Try to avoid misrepresentation of facts in your personal life, no matter the benefit.
- Check multiple news sources to compare stories and data for verity.
- Call out fake or false facts on Twitter, Facebook (Meta), or other social media outlets.
- Call out fake news on Fox and other networks via email, phone or live chat.
- Discuss fake news by opening conversations with friends or individuals at work.
- Sit down and discuss media and fake news or data with your kids.
- Pay very close attention to your bank statements and hidden fees and bogus accounts that may be opened on your behalf, without you knowing it.
- Ask for the facts!