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The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
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 by Jon Burras
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The World Of Fakeness
        In recent weeks a major topic of conversation has been that of "fake news." Fake news is information on the internet, television or other sources that has dubious to no credibility and often attempts to sway public opinion in one way or the other. These stories have questioned the reliability of social media web sites, television networks and newspaper editors. Many people have become awakened and alarmed that their once trusted sources of information have become compromised. What is even more alarming is how naive and gullible we have become to trust anything as we live in a world that is dominated by fakeness and fake news is just the tip of the iceberg.
        For instance, fashion has long been filled with fakeness to give us the illusion of something that is not quite what it appears. For decades women have been wearing corsets and bras to hold in their bellies and prevent their breasts from sagging. Only hippies and lower class women would ever dare to let their breasts sag or their belly to protrude. A sophisticated woman always needs to appear to have everything tucked in tightly in the right places. Broad tipped shoulder pads give the illusion of a powerful woman with grand shoulders but this wardrobe trick might just hide a smaller framed woman with normal shoulders.
         As every woman knows a little tissue paper to pad the bra or a push up bra can make things appear larger than what they actually are. A tight girdle or body wrap like "Spanx" can shape a woman's body and make those extra pounds seem to magically just disappear. "Skinny jeans" are the latest wardrobe accessory to hide those extra pounds. Wardrobe tricks can hide inadequacies and create a fake body.
        Men also can create an illusionary body by applying a tight belt or waist band to pull in that bloated belly. A cummerbund has the same result but just is a little bit more formal. Men have traditionally used toupees placed atop their balding heads that give the appearance of a full head of hair. When you see a man's body you might be deceived by many attempts at hiding the truth.
Makeup is another method to create a fake self. Most people will marvel at their favorite actress on the red carpet attending a movie premier. Little do they realize but the actress has spent six hours to prepare her hair and makeup. Spatulas of makeup, hairspray, false eyelashes and hair extensions have turned a very ordinary woman into one of glamour and beauty. Surprisingly you might have been in line behind this very same actress the day before in Starbucks ordering a latte and you might not have even recognized her without makeup.
        Several decades back plastic surgery began to become normal. Many women would enlarge their breasts with silicone implants and it would marvel many (especially men) at how her appearance had changed. A tummy tuck or liposuction seemed to take an overweight body and shape it into something of glamour.
         Having one's face enhanced with plastic surgery became the rave and friends and colleagues would comment on how one looked so much younger. Botox injections became popular with both men and women to create a fake face that seemed to dissolve those ugly wrinkles. A woman's full lips seemed to stand out but little do most people realize is that regular injections of collagen are the trick and not just good genes. Cryotherapy (extreme cold) is the latest rave to melt away body fat and remove wrinkles. Fake faces and fake bodies abound these days and seem to be the norm.
         We have always been stunned when a celebrity has a healthy and glowing tan or a bikini model covets outrageous tan lines. Many have assumed that a leisure lifestyle of sitting out in the sun at one's vacation home in Palm Springs or by the fancy Beverly Hills Hotel pool is what gave these beautiful people their glowing look. We later learned that weekly visits to the tanning salon were the trick to create a very real looking tan. Tanning salons have had recent competition with spray on tans that are applied like painting a car. A healthy golden looking skin might just be a coat of your favorite body paint.
Fakeness has permeated our culture for a very long time. In food production for instance, there are many fake foods like artificial sweeteners and fake fats like Olestra. Many fake food products are created in laboratories and passed on as real foods. (This is like when a lemonade drink at a fast food restaurant says that there is no actual lemon in the drink, only artificial ingredients that mimic the taste of lemon.)
        We have fake labels on food packaging that do not tell the whole story. Many harmful ingredients are either downplayed by changing their name (like when MSG is called a natural ingredient) or do not have to be placed on the label altogether. For instance, in recent years high levels of arsenic have been found in apple juice but the food labels did not mention this.
        Our business world is filled with fakeness. The accounting world is filled with fake methods of doing business. There are many ways to hide profits and losses in tax returns. Advertisers use fake advertising to lure you to their products. Pharmaceutical companies make fake claims about how effective their drugs really are. Cell phone companies make fake claims about how long their batteries last on their latest model of cell phone. A company might claim that the battery will last twenty hours or more. That statement might be true if you are not actually using the phone by making phone calls, receiving text messages or watching videos. A normal person's actual battery life is far less than what is advertised.
        Numbers do lie and help fill up the world of fakeness. Data and statistics are used to tell many stories these days and those numbers are often used to tell fake stories. By various accounting methods or shifting of data you can manipulate a story into anything you wish it to be. Two people can take the exact same data and tell two very different stories.
        Government data gatherers are famous for their fake stories. Every quarter the government comes out with its growth reports like how many jobs were added or how low the unemployment rate has become. What most people do not realize is that a fake story is often created by manipulating numbers. What might seem like a growth in jobs might be a surge in part time employment for unskilled workers at fast food restaurants or in retail stores. That is not a bustling economic picture.
        A new trend has emerged called "astroturfing" where fake reviews are written about products or services. It is estimated that at least 25% of the consumer reviews on shopping web sites like Amazon.com or information directories like Yelp.com are fake and made by persons paid to review something. Entire companies exist to do nothing more than to write fake reviews for products or to rebuild a person's or company's image by flooding the internet with fake positive reviews.
        We have seen this fakeness flood over into our politics. A town hall meeting for a politician might claim to be filled with local residents but might really be a fake and staged crowd with party loyalists. At times street protests are often infiltrated by paid protestors or fringe groups hoping to disrupt a crowd's message. Staged actors parading in the streets might appear to be a common citizen expressing his First Amendment Right to protest but in reality it is a person acting like a protestor. Violent college campus protests might be fringe groups aligned through social media that infiltrate a rather peaceful crowd. These fake crowds are not what the First Amendment was intended for.
        We have seen over and over through Hollywood movies the world of fakeness. Stunt doubles are seen performing acrobatic moves when we think the star is really doing them. Movie makeup creates fake images from vampires to zombies. CGI (computer generated images) have taken fakeness to a new level. From magnificent backgrounds to the shrinking of a human torso we are led into the world of fakeness to entertain us through the Hollywood lens.
        When you pick up a magazine on the magazine rack at your local market you are undeniably being led into the world of fakeness. Nearly every photo of a model or celebrity has been airbrushed to eliminate wrinkles, shed pounds and create six-pack abs. Most of what you see is an illusion. Thanks to software programs like Photoshop anyone can take a real picture and alter it in a variety of ways.
       We live in a fake world, from the movies we watch to the politics that we participate in. We have fake labels on products, fake political crowds and fake body images. Why is it not a surprise these days that we also have fake news? What is wrong with us that we accept things without questioning their origin? Begin to pull on your hair when someone writes something and claims to have "good" or "reliable" sources. Unless you have an actual person making a claim and you can validate these claims then do not accept it as fact.
        It is sad to learn that nothing is sacred. From 1954 though 1973 ran the fourth longest television show in history about a dog named Lassie. On the show Lassie was portrayed as a female. In reality, nine different dogs were used in the history of the filming and they were all males. Fakeness is so imbedded in us that not even Lassie was real.