I'm a fraud

Year: 2011

When I was still at school a teacher, skilfully identifying my burgeoning concerns with ideas of value, brought to my attention what turned out to be one of La Rochefoucauld's Maximes: 'Hypocrisy is a tribute which vice pays to virtue.' I never forgot it.

Today it might be argued that in our pursuit of the 'real' we have become hostage to ideas of purpose and authenticity, something we are somehow pressured into realising and being, for if we do not live up to our own, or society's expectations of us, we are all too easily convinced of being a failure. One survival strategy that has rampantly evolved in recent years is a need to be seen to be living the life that we want others to see us living. With the advent of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter et al an age of self broadcast emerged, all facilitating the mediation of our own reality. The desire to confirm our authentic being had exploded. New social networking technologies brought with them new absurdities: The extraordinary and timely film 'Catfish' (2011) tells the sad story of a woman playing out a fantastical and completely false life on Facebook. The greater intrigue is not knowing whether the documentary style film is in itself telling a truthful story or simply a cinematic construct - interestingly, the directors adamantly maintain as to its authenticity. Also a new form of social anxiety was born: FOMO - Fear of missing out: 'a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying event'[1].

In 1972 Keith Arnatt photographed himself wearing a placard bearing the words 'I'm a real artist'. Arnatt's treatise on art and being preceded Facebook by over 30 years. Today, the pursuit of the real, the authentic, and indeed the virtuous appears to remain equally impossible to realise. We are constantly vulnerable to our ideals being corruptible, whether it be from politic, relationship, age, inconvenience, or just plain tiredness we will inevitably or wantonly incur double standards throughout our lives and at some point become the hypocrite we are so ready to vilify. Hypocrisy is, after all, a tribute which vice pays to virtue.

In August 2013 I closed all personal social network accounts including Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.

I don't think anyone noticed.

[1] FOMO definition from Andrew Przybylski's 2013 paper 'Motivational, emotional and behavioural correlates of fear of missing out'. More on FOMO can be found here in an interview with curator Nav Haq for the book Savage presents Jean Michel Jarre.