Life

The Flood of FAKE

This evening a friend of mine pried me away from my keyboard. She insisted that some new scenery might clear the cobwebs from my head. Our local McDonald’s had redecorated, replacing the “wall of smut” that I had held in affectionate disdain so she decided to show me the new theme they had chosen.

Something felt off about the place. I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I played with my straw as we made small talk while I pondered.

“Earth to Annie!” K waved a hand in front of my face. I was so puzzled at the discrepancy that I hadn’t even realized that she had asked me a question.

“Something’s just…wrong…with this place,” I confessed. “I can’t put my finger on it so it’s bugging me.”

“Eh,” K shrugged as she took a bite of her sandwich. “It’s the same old McDonalds but with a different face.”

The brick wallpaper, carefully designed with a splash of ‘spray paint’ caught my attention. I followed it upwards, spotting the fake wallpaper bars. Glanced around at the plastic paneling that had been carefully curated to resemble plywood. Even the chairs had a worn look that had been artfully integrated.

But the chairs were new.

The chairs were new. The wallpaper was new. The paneling, the floors, everything was new yet it had been deliberately designed to look….

“Oh my God, they went grunge.” It finally clicked what disturbed me about the place. It had been filled with brand-new, very expensive decorations that were designed to give it a careworn, “welcome to the ‘hood” appearance all the way down to the fake graffiti.

This newly redecorated restaurant had tried to be what it was not and it had failed abysmally. It was the silk purse trying to transform itself into a sow’s ear, and it was the perfect symbol of what our society has become.

We are taught to be all of the things that we are not. We are supposed to look a certain way, act a certain way, do certain things because it is “important” when in reality it is not.

We have fake food now. Tofu masquerading as cheese and meat and God knows what else. We have fake fur, fake leather, fake cotton, fake nails, and fake jewelry. We have fake wood, fake friends, fake news, even fake money these days. We swipe a card filled with fake money instead of using real cash based on real metals with more fake money added to the pool whenever the government runs low.

We rarely even see the truly old stuff anymore. When we want something old we go to the store and buy a cheap new replica. Old means ‘poor’ and ‘dirty’ and ‘wrong’ so we buy the fake stuff and call it fashion.

We live in an age where people buy their pants pre-ripped so they can have the grunge without the grime. We want the gritty without the grit. We want the bling without the bankroll and it’s fake, it’s all fake.

My wardrobe of choice has become a fashion statement. Rich people want to look poor so they pay a fortune for the appearance. Poor people want to look rich so they max their cards to buy the brand names.

Neither group is what they are pretending to be and I find myself horrified at the revelation. It’s no wonder that Trump won the election. He was the only one honest enough to own the fact that he’s an asshole.

And who will they pit against him in the next election? Chances are it will be the rich bastard who’s playing himself off as a middle class saint. Millions of dollars, multiple mansions, yet he pretends to attack the very thing that he is and he expects us to swallow his bullshit.

Seriously, if you don’t like the rich, if you detest the fact that the rich are getting richer then get rid of your fucking mansions and come live in the ‘hood with the rest of us. We’ll be happy to share our roaches.

I don’t care if you’re rich or you’re poor as long as you own what you are to the world. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not because in the end we’re all going to end up dead regardless.

It’s okay to have money. It’s okay to be broke. It’s okay. It’s all okay. Just own what you are and get on with your life.

What’s not okay is when we waste our time and our money pretending to be the things that we are not. What’s not okay is when we waste our time worrying about what others think when it doesn’t matter. That is my problem with the world today and that’s a problem that I just realized that I have with myself as well.

I come from the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. I am the daughter of an ex-con and a stripper. I grew up helping my daddy bootleg because we did what we had to do in order to survive. I learned how to talk my way out of trouble at an early age when dirty old men tried to drag me in their cars.

I hated school because it was boring and we skipped ahead every damn time we got to the interesting parts. It was more important to color inside the circles than it was to actually learn something. I can read and I can research and I can learn more in a month than most classes teach me in a year. I resented the waste of my time but I just tried to pretend that this wasn’t a problem. I told myself I needed a piece of fucking paper when in the end all I needed was the knowledge.

That piece of paper was just to prove to the world that I was a person.

I was molested as a toddler. I was raped as an adult. I had my first two kids out of wedlock and I thought that made me wrong so to fix it I got married. The worst part of that was that he was fake too. I just couldn’t see it through my own damn fakeness. I was too busy trying to be something that I was not.

And right now I am a toothless old crone who is aggravated as hell at the fact that the truth was all around me and I missed it for ages. I live in a run-down shack on a grungy street like so many others yet the world looks for us and all they find are the mansions shown on TV.

Hell, we all believe that we’re supposed to live in mansions now because that’s all we’re allowed to see. We glamorize the rich and vilify the poor because “fuck them, they’re trash.”

People jump here from across the world looking for streets paved in gold only to land in rat-infested tenements. They wonder what they did wrong when they thought they did everything right.

And they did do everything right. It’s the world that’s wrong.

It’s the image we give, the lies we tell when we say we’re all doing well while most of us are struggling. It’s the shit we buy that we can’t afford so we can brag to our friends that we’re special.

But Tyler Durden of Fight Club had it right:

We are not our job.
We are not how much money we have in the bank.
We are not the car we drive.
We are not the contents of our wallets.
We are not the clothes that we choose to wear.
We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.

We are. We really are. We are born, we live, and then we return to the earth from whence we came so the circle can continue.

There is no point in being fake. There is no point in pretending to be what we are not. All we do is make ourselves miserable in the end.

Life is too short not to be enjoyed. And we cannot enjoy it if we believe the lie that we are somehow wrong.

It is time we ended the fakeness. It is time to stop pretending to be something that we’re not. It is time to stop believing the lie that we are only worth something if we dress a certain way or act a certain way or buy the certain stuff or do the certain things.

It is time we realized that we are okay where we are with what we have right now.

So keep your stuff. Use the things you already have because something new won’t make you better – it will just make you broke.

And stop supporting the companies that feed you the lies that they’re ‘just like’ you and they ‘care about’ you and they ‘want what’s best’ for you because the truth is this:

All they want is your money.

They want to use you up and spit you out and laugh when you’re tossed in the gutter.

~

We are nothing to them, and it is time that we accepted that.

And it is time we treated them the exact same way that they treat us.

Just like that McDonald’s I visited tonight, they dress up their lies and call themselves authentic. They believe they have us brainwashed enough that we’ll believe it. I hope that they are wrong about that.

Don’t fall for their games. Stop feeding the monsters.

~#~

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I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

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17 Comments

  • Linda Sand

    I am rich now but have been poor. I live in the smallest and cheapest apartment that I furnished with cheap furniture in this upscale complex. I live here because they promise to take care of me even if I have to move into the care center and I go broke. I wear yoga pants and t-shirts 24/7 and have only four of each along with two hoodies. I eat the foods from the restaurant here but I mostly choose the cheapest things on the menu. I have an iPhone and an iPad and a Mac laptop but all are considered to be old ones and I have no desire to upgrade them. I am both sides of the coin. My neighbors don’t know what to make of me but I continue to choose to be me. I don’t want to be them even though I have money now. Am I real?

    • Annie

      Exactly, Linda! You choose to be yourself. But in this world so many of us have been convinced that who we are is not enough. And why? So they can sell us more stuff! Nips, tucks, botox, braces…even a pair of false teeth were pushed at me by my dentist so that I could “avoid embarrassment.” It’s gotten to the point where it’s ridiculous.

      • Karen

        Well, the teeth thing is also to protect your bite and stuff. I do get implants as my teeth go bad, but they’re very expensive. Most of them have been on the side and back. But I personally would be embarrassed if I were missing teeth that could be seen. I also dye my hair to cover the gray. I was putting highlights in even before it started turning gray, so it didn’t make sense to stop once the color started changing. Maybe someday I’ll stop, and I suppose it is being fake, but I can’t yet bring myself to stop.

        • Annie

          But dentures don’t really protect your bite, Karen. I did the research on that before I made my decision. Most people I interact with on a regular basis don’t even realize that I have had all of my teeth removed. I have had people stand in front of me and MOCK others who have had their teeth removed without realizing that I don’t have a single tooth in my head. My uncle went around 3 years before he felt he had healed enough to get dentures; he passed on a few tricks. My tongue fell naturally into the spot that keeps my jaw properly formed. I had already taught myself not to reveal my teeth when I smile or speak due to self-consciousness since my teeth have been crooked since my adult teeth emerged, so aside from honing that a bit I’ve had no issues. It’s a simple matter of practicing in front of a mirror to make yourself more aware of how one’s lips move during speech.

          Coloring or highlighting your hair if you WANT to is one thing; doing it because you feel somehow LESS beautiful when you don’t is entirely another. What is wrong with showing our natural gray? What is so wrong with aging in our society as a whole? It’s marketed now as being shameful, and I have issues with that.

          How many years have you had your dental implants, Karen? Everyone I know who has had them ended up being forced to remove them in about a decade. Seems the gums pulled away from the implants (since they weren’t living tissue) and caused them extreme pain. Have you had any signs of that happening? I am curious about your personal experience.

  • jolynn

    Don’t forget fake nails, fake hair,and crazy fake weather reports meant to bring fear-
    so we will “stock up” with what we don’t need. Good post.

  • Tammara L Mills

    People talk about “being real” and “keeping it real” but I don’t think they know what is real anymore which is how they will continue to be deceived and led down a road of even more and even greater delusion and deception. The great deception I’d always been told of from childhood on up…

    • Annie

      Exactly, Tammara! It’s hard to know who WE are because we’ve spent our entire lives surrounded by programming. How do we figure out who we truly are deep inside in light of that fact?

  • Karen

    Wow, you were truly on a roll last night! I like your energy, and your ability to express yourself so eloquently and articulately when you’re in that “frenzied” state. I wish I could get that riled up about something and be able to express it so well.
    I liked your comments about Trump. Sadly, I fear you may be a minority in your part of the country, but you must speak your truth nonetheless.
    I also wanted to point out that there isn’t anything wrong with being ambitious. With wanting to rise above the circumstances in which you were born, or which were for created for you, or even which you created for yourself. And I believe you’ have risen above many of your circumstances. How many people who were born in your circumstances and suffered what you have, still pulled themselves up and out of it, and didn’t settle for what they had? How many people become writers and sell books and are self-employed, and learn how to invest and actually save money so that they can become financially independent? You didn’t accept things as they were. You had ambitions.
    I get that this isn’t what you were really writing about last night. You wrote about fakeness and you had good points. Sometimes, I think one has to “fake it til they make it,” but that of course depends on the circumstances. I couldn’t agree with you more about much of the fake stuff in our modern culture, though, even if it does make us sounds like bitter grandmothers. It’s so true that people spend so much money trying to look and be like someone they admire, when all it gets them is broke. And possibly ridiculed. But most of us, I think, are so busy trying to exist in our everyday lives that we don’t really don’t have time or money to try to be something we’re not. We can aspire, though.

    • Annie

      Dear Karen,

      I came home so worked up that I had to apologize to my friend for cutting our time short afterwards. The words just started flowing, and I started working on the post before we left the restaurant I was so upset. I came home, sat down at the computer, and the next thing I knew it was well past three in the morning. I wouldn’t have even realized the time if the kid’s alarm hadn’t started blaring.

      My opinions on politicians are met with a surprising amount of acceptance in this area. I reached the point where I don’t believe a single word that comes out of a politician’s mouth, and I am not shy about broadcasting that fact. I wait to see what happens in my area before I make any judgements because, with the exception of a single politician I had the blessing to meet several years’ back, I have discovered that ALL of them are liars and crooks. For the record, it was Gatewood Galbraith that I had the honor of meeting. He was one of the most intelligent men I ever had the blessing to encounter. We chatted for about a half hour after one of his speeches. The man never did achieve his dream of becoming governor of Kentucky because he practiced what he preached and so those in power….well, he wasn’t exactly wealthy when he died. If you ever get a chance, I highly suggest you read it. His book is titled The Last Free Man in America. While I do not share all of his opinions, I found him to be one of the most honest, most earnest, and most sincere politician I have ever met.

      He was also as eccentric as I am. Different type of eccentric, but we both shared a similar goal: to use the skills and knowledge we had to make the world a bit better without taking advantage of innocents.

      As for my writing business…as far back as I can remember, I’ve been driven to write. Before I knew how to make letters, I would copy them and make up my own “letters” to write articles and stories that I would “read” to friends and family. I don’t know what makes me this way, but I’ve always done it. I started submitting articles and short stories as a teen, giving up after receiving rejections. But I couldn’t stop writing. I just couldn’t–I just stopped submitting them. Even after my head injury, when I lay in agony. I couldn’t bear to look at a screen for the pain, my coordination was such that I was unable to write in cursive and many of the printed letters I wrote were upside down and backwards, but I could not stop writing.

      Over the decade I’ve had this website, I’ve written so many posts like this but I deleted them out of fear and self-consciousness. But something changed in me this past October. It helped me realize that life is too short and too precious to hide this aspect of myself. Even with that, I struggled with publishing the first few posts. To my surprise, the response has been more positive than I imagined.

      And there is nothing wrong with ambition. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve one’s life. I do have an issue with the process when I see people (myself included) doing things not out of a desire to improve their lives, but out of a deep-seated fear that they are worthless.

      Because in a way I still fight with that worthless feeling. I’ve been judged for the way that I choose to live. I’ve been judged for my lack of formal education. Even now, despite the fact that, if I wasn’t so driven to write currently, I could take a factory job that would pay more than my (too late) research revealed that an Associate’s Degree would allow me to earn, even though I could re-enter the computer field and earn even more than that (which is something I am actually considering), I have been called…things…for my decision to abandon a project I started in haste.

      That said, I don’t really regret my experience. I learned something about myself that I had previously refused to admit or accept. I learned that it is okay to admit that I made an incorrect decision for me.

      But I look around and I see people PREYING on those who want to better their lives and it makes me ANGRY. I’ve had promotional companies reach out to me and offer money to help me develop classes designed to take advantage of this fact. They make it very clear that the only purpose in doing so would be for profit. And as far as “fake it till you make it,” I have discovered that may of the ones who promote that belief are fakes themselves. They had nothing, spun a bunch of lies to make themselves look much more successful than they were, and used that fake success to bilk an innocent populace out of a disgusting amount of money.

      I refuse to be a part of that. It is one thing for a person to be honest. It is one thing for a person who has managed to achieve something to share what they’ve learned, but it is entirely wrong to misrepresent yourself with the intention of robbing people. So help me, I don’t care if I go bankrupt. I don’t care if I have to take another job or if I end up homeless, but it will be a cold day in hell before I sink to the level of the shysters. I am doing this because this is something I wish I had had access to when I was alone and scared and broke and didn’t know where to turn. I am writing this, deliberately keeping my prices low and sticking as much on my website for free as I am able to HELP people that are JUST LIKE ME, just like I was back in the days when I went without food so my kids could eat.

      That is why I am doing this, Karen. My goal is to earn enough to live on with a bit of extra by offering something that is honest and that helps to the best of my ability. If I do that, then I have faith that the rest will come.

  • Chris

    When I had my mastectomy, my plastic surgeon told me I would be ugly if I didn’t get implants. That no woman would want to go around without breasts.
    And for 2 years I bought into that “reasoning”. After much trouble with the implants, I had them removed, declined any further surgery and Have been living flat for the last 2 years. So it’s not just nails, or hair dye, or even teeth that are promoted as necessary for us to live a happy, fulfilled life. For the most part,
    I can count on one hand the number of people who have noticed my flatness. And I really don’t care. I am now healthy and cancer free, which is all that matters.
    There has to be a better way than promoting fake.

    • Annie

      I hate the fact that you had to go through this, Chris. Yet I suspect that fear-mongering like this is going to get worse, to the point I am beginning to question certain practices of the medical industry. I was informed by my dentist that I “needed” immediate dentures for beauty and oral health reasons. They told my that the dentures acted as a “bandage” to control swelling.

      But here’s the thing. The human body reacts to injury by sending blood and extra nutrients to affected areas. This is a natural part of the healing process. I may not be a medical expert, but shoving a hard piece of plastic atop a fresh wound with the knowledge that it will PREVENT the body from doing its job raised a serious red flag with me. I had the fortune to be with a friend who purchased immediate dentures; the dentist described the process. My friend was sedated at the time and has no idea how close I came to yanking them out of the chair and dragging them out of the office. If they hadn’t been so determined to have the procedure, I would have done just that. The extract the teeth, slice open the gums, file down portions of your jaw, sew you up, and push the immediate dentures down upon that fresh wound.

      I watched my friend suffer immensely in the days after that procedure. They couldn’t even wear the dentures without extreme pain. Within a few months, they had to spend another ~$1,000 for another set of dentures. In the years since, my friend has expressed that in hindsight that it was one of the worst decisions they made and has become one of my most ardent cheerleaders since I announced my intention to wait for my mouth to heal naturally before I even explore the option.

      Here’s the funny thing about the whole situation. One of my daughters didn’t even realize that I had all of my teeth removed until my youngest told her. She saw me several times after that fact. I’ve had people approach me and make fun of others who had all of their teeth pulled AFTER I had all of mine removed. At one point I was so angered by this that I pointed out that the last of my teeth had been removed several weeks’ previous. Their reaction when they realized that they had interacted with me several times a week during that time period without noticing that fact was priceless.

      With the exception of nuts and other really hard items, I have discovered that, despite the claims by my dentist that I would be physically unable to eat, that I can eat pretty much anything I want. Even more amazingly, I can eat what I want to eat BETTER than I did before I had my teeth removed.

      I’m sorry, but my personal experience alone makes me wonder WHY immediate dentures are marketed so heavily as being necessary when I have discovered that they are not.

      And for the record, I have a SERIOUS personal issue with ANY medical “professional” telling you that you NEEDED to submit to a medical procedure for the simple sake of vanity. That is WRONG, yet I see that every day. They prey upon your insecurities for profit instead of giving you what you truly need, and I find that disgusting.

      It’s not even the medical and dental industries that are guilty of this. Females are told that they are “wrong” if they allow their natural grey hair to show through. The programming is so deep that my own DAUGHTER has brought home boxes of hair dye for me because my hair makes me look “old.” REALLY? Last I looked, I AM old, so what’s wrong with looking it? Why are people, women especially, being shamed into dumping chemicals on their heads? Why are we being shamed into plastic surgery to hide the natural aging process? Why are women being shamed into getting breast implants and even breast reductions? I have one friend who was shamed into having her breasts reduced because her natural breasts were “too big.”

      And don’t get me started on the cosmetics industry. Now, I don’t mind occasionally using cosmetics. I don’t even mind coloring my hair on occasion. But to be made to feel LESS attractive, LESS worthy, LESS intelligent even (yes, I’ve had that leveled at me) for refusing to use this stuff on a regular basis is WRONG and it pisses me off!

      I am so thankful that you are cancer-free and had those implants removed. Everyone I know who has had implants ended up having issues with those nasty things. You are beautiful just as you are. In my opinion, your flat chest should be considered a badge of honor. Because you SURVIVED. You beat the cancer that killed my dad and my uncles and so many I know and love. You faced that demon, and you WON.

      I love you for that. And I am honored that you have chosen to grace my little website with a visit.

  • Melanie

    I just want to say that tofu-fake cheese and fake meat are far superior to “real” meat and cheese, which couldn’t get any further from nature – pumped full of antibiotics and steroids and the result of the horrible cruelty of factory farming. That having been said, we all – vegans and meat-eaters – need to get back to eating real food, grown and harvested humanely and sanely.

    • Annie

      Exactly, Melanie. There is something inherently wrong with the factory food industry. I am not an expert so I am hesitant to comment but as a personal anecdote I grew up on home-raised chickens, cattle, and pigs. Milk purchased in stores does not taste the same; neither does store-bought butter or pork when compared to farm raised. I find it disturbing but as I have no resources for a farm, to even purchase these items in the quantities I would have to from a farmer (which in some cases like raw milk can be illegal in some states), and I lack the skills patience my parents had to raise such things myself, I do the best that I can.

      My big issue with the “vegetarian” varieties of “meat,” “cheeses,” and other items is this: why market it as something it is not? It is not real meat. It is not real cheese. Why fill it with flavorings (sometimes they even season it with the very thing it is supposed to replace — look for “natural seasonings”) and market it as something it is not? If it is that delicious, be honest and market it for what it is–soy stuff.

      Back when the tofu craze started, I experimented with it. It was supposed to, when prepared a certain way, be indistinguishable from meat. We could definitely tell the difference! My kids took one bite and refused to eat it. As much as I detest wasting food, those experiments all ended up getting tossed in the trash. I know I’m a bad cook but I’ve tried stuff like that prepared by vegetarians who cook a lot more than I do and I still found it unpalatable.

    • Annie

      Bwahahaha! You are so very right, Trixie! Fair point, well-made. Still, I kinda like that movie and the point resonated with me.

      Thanks for calling me out!

  • Essie

    We are being indoctrinated from infancy on that we need to fit in. I think there is a natural desire in humans to fit in, be like the others. Actually, isn’t it observed in animals, too? The babies that are different than the others in the litter are left behind, not nurtured, culled out of the herd. But, in humans, there is an age when a child struggles to be an individual, to become his or her own self.

    Advertising, now refined to ‘marketing’, incorporates psychology in its tactics to promote products and lifestyles. Marketing agencies exploit psychology research findings for their financial gain. Advertising likes to play head games with us to get us to buy things we don’t need. And, unless we are strong, independent critical thinkers (know many of those??), we succumb to the slick sales pitch so that we can be like the people in People.

    We told we are too fat, too ugly, out of shape, frumpy, wearing out-dated clothes, too unhealthy, out-of-style. We need to keep ourselves preened and primped.

    We need to get multiple degrees, certifications, continued education in order to remain attractive in the job market, to be considered for promotions. Who cares if you lack common sense and can’t find your way out of a paper bag when you have a BS, BA, MBA, PhD?

    We live in too small of a house. We have ‘starter’ homes. We need to update all of our furnishings every few years so we aren’t ridiculed by our friends and family. We need to drive new cars.

    From infancy on, the seeds of discontent with ourselves, our families, our socioeconomic status are planted, fertilized and watered by multi-million dollar marketing agencies. We can never be good enough.

    We don’t even know who we really are.