Faking It: A Response

I listened to an old Freakonomics podcast about how most people "fake it," or pretend to themselves and others that they are someone they are not. Stephen Dubner gave the examples of a Jewish woman who keeps kosher but eats bacon when she's not with anyone she knows and a salesman who pretends he is a church-going Baptist when he has business in the South. Dubner begged the question, "Is it OK to act in one way and tell your family, friends, or business contacts that you act in another?"

Dubner seemed to think that "faking it" is neither a recent nor transient phenomenon. Personally, I've accepted both that the only universal constant (and I don't mean the speed of light in a vacuum) is change and that we can choose how we change. I don't disagree with Dubner, but I also don't think that past behaviors are in any way a guarantee of future behaviors.

I'm going to try to answer that bolded question above in the negative. I think it's wrong to make a habit of lying to the people whom you need to trust you most, no matter how innocuous the lie. Lying to your children about keeping kosher is hypocritical and it will come back to bite you in the butt when they inevitably find out. There will be a reckoning when those children find out their parents have raised them to live in a way they themselves could not maintain.

But that's nothing compared to lying to clients. It makes life easier when you get along with your family, but to lie on a regular basis to many clients is to set yourself up to ruin your own reputation. And a reputation is everything for a salesman.

I also think "faking it" is wrong a priori. It keeps society working in the short term, but it's not good for anyone. It rewards mediocrity, undermines trust, encourages cynicism. And it doesn't feel good to do.

How do you fake it in your own life? Does the good outweigh the bad?