By Mason Mulrooney '19
I’ve been at Randolph for almost 12 years now. A large part of my life has been surrounded by and dedicated to this school, but there is one problem that I have seen in my years here. This problem is not one that only our school faces, but our entire generation. It has infected most of us like an epidemic, making us act in ways that are unnatural. Over time, we have developed to willingly accept this issue, like it’s not even a problem at all. This pervasive disease that affects so many of us is fakeness; and sadly, our generation is the fakest of them all.
Fakeness is the act of projecting a personality that does not truly express who you are. With today’s extremely connected culture, we have developed a need to be in the favor of as many people as possible due to a fear of being judged. We want to get the most popular friends, to date the most attractive people, and to get the most likes and follows. Many of us try our absolute best to achieve these goals, and it almost always ends with us creating a false identity. All that this does is shut out our true emotions, opinions, and thoughts, which always leads to sadness.
I speak from experience, for in middle school and the first half of high school I felt that I was restricted from truly expressing who I was. And all of that was my fault. I would fake smiles, change my appearance for others, and try my absolute best to fit in. All of this was fruitless, for in the end, it only put a wall around my true self. I was just too afraid to stand up for who I was, because I was too scared of being judged. I wasn't alone, for many people don’t feel safe expressing who they truly are, thinking that others will not accept their musical tastes, what they prefer to wear, and who they like. We need to break down these barriers and not be afraid to express our true personalities.
Now, there is a book that we all read in 9th grade that mentions this topic quite a bit. Wait… a book that some of us read in 9th grade. This book is Catcher in Rye, yeah I know: who cares, we already talked about the book, but I do want to talk about Holden. Holden just can’t stop talking about fake people, or phonies as he calls them. Judging people on the street, trying to read them, and all while being gloomy and depressed.
But Holden’s comments about phonies are hypocritical because he is one. He travels to a different city to find himself, but all he does is mope around in bars, smoke cigarettes, and try to fit in. This is not what you should do. Holden was not accepting, nor was he genuine. So don’t be Holden. He was too focused on others rather than himself. We have all been like this at one point, because I know I sure have.
Being hard on people you have never really talked to or even know and hiding what you really think, or really are, is not a great way to live.
My best advice for solving fakeness is to grow a thick skin and know that the only opinions that really matter are from the people you love and respect.
To combat this “Holden” disease, we need to be more accepting. We are always trying to one up each other in a never-ending race to get to the top, and getting to the top means, in most cases, to cut people off. If you try to climb the social ladder, and in the process you have to drop your nerdy friend because he or she is tarnishing your precious image, then all you are doing is hurting yourself and others. People need to not push away but to accept, and if people don’t accept who you truly are, then it's their loss.
I have tried to climb the social ladder myself in my time here, but I always ended up at the same place I’ve always been. I tried to get closer to people who were not like me. I forced myself to talk, but all that came out was fabricated, boring, and unnecessary garbage. All that came out of these repeated awkward scenes was just piles of mope for myself to deal with. I would think, I’m never going to be high on the ladder, I will never connect with these people. But I was trying to be someone that I was not. While looking back at those unpleasant memories, all I see is lost time. For as long as you live on this planet, you should live every moment as yourself. Then you will find your true place and your true friends, because your position on the ladder does not matter, especially in high school.
Now, I have a quote from Psychology Today that I would like to share with you all... “Genuine people are more trustworthy than fake ones. They have more appealing traits, like strength of character and emotional resilience, because it takes confidence and bravery [to be genuine]." Additionally, “Everyone is more attracted to uniqueness and a real sense of individuality.” (Guy Winch). This is one-hundred percent true. Being an individual is being you. Now, when you express yourself, you are going to be faced with backlash, and this is where another one of my points comes in.
My best advice for solving fakeness is to grow a thick skin and know that the only opinions that really matter are from the people you love and respect. Now I know that sounds sappy, but it's true. Most people’s opinions just don’t matter at all. It’s that simple. But most of us let trivial opinions get to us and even change us. So don’t sweat the irrelevant insults. You’ll be stronger when you ignore them.
Being genuine might seem a little scary at first, but I assure you that the only way to combat this social sickness is to really think about who you are and what matters to you. And don’t be afraid of whether people like you or not. Be brave enough to not care about what everyone else thinks, since truly genuine people don’t seek the attention of others. The people who really matter will still be there for you and better yet, you’ll know that your real friends appreciate the person you really are.
If we start now, maybe our generation can find the cure for oversensitivity in our culture that will lead to a more genuine society. Fakeness is curable, so everyone can pitch in and do your part, for being genuine is being you, and being fake is being fake. I have hope in all of us, and that was not a fake statement.