flickr photo by The Prime Minister's Office http://flickr.com/photos/number10gov/5078348246 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

flickr photo by The Prime Minister’s Office http://flickr.com/photos/number10gov/5078348246 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Does it matter if winners cheat? If athletes take drugs? If officials accept bribes? If posers and imposters triumph at the expense of those with grit and substance? After a turbulent week, I thought it was time to take a hard look at why integrity matters.

In the age of social media it seems easier than ever to profess to be something we aren’t. We are fooled into the notion that if we can just control our own personal press office well enough then people will see us as we wish to be seen. But is anyone really buying it? Do the photos and the status updates, the humble and the blatant brags, the contacts and the name drops truly make a single person see us in that special light that we’ve so carefully shined upon ourselves?

The answer is probably yes…as long as that person doesn’t see you regularly. It also requires them letting a certain paranoia about the world to seep in. They have to permit the believe that life is not as hard for everyone else. That no one else has a bad hair day. That they never feel fat, frustrated, angry or bored. That at varying intervals they wouldn’t rather be somebody else, somewhere else or wish that things in their life were different.

So yes, in the short-term, to near-total strangers, perhaps our fakery can meet with some success. Victory is possible; all you have to do is avoid any real level of intimacy with another human being for the rest of your life. And you should probably get rid of all the mirrors in your house too because that person: the one that lives with you 24/7/365, is the one member of the public that won’t be able to buy your lies.

‘Just be yourself’ sounds like pretty crap dating-advice when you’re 21 and who you are seems malleable. But once you hit 30 it just seems obvious; that if you and someone else are going to make it in the long-term then it better be based on how compatible you already are.

Trying to be somebody else in order to please or impress others is near enough impossible in the long run. And if you don’t believe me then just ask your parents…

Bullshit can get you reactions, it can swindle promotions, make you money and charm a few people into bed. You can probably trick the world for a short while and if you do it well enough and on a big enough scale, then maybe you’ll end up working in advertising…or for FIFA.

But it’s also worth remembering what the American President Abraham Lincoln once said:

You can fool all of the people some of the time…
And some of the people all the time…
But you cannot fool all the people all the time.


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