While many of us try to be as authentic as possible, the reality is that being a functioning member of society requires us to massage the truth every now and then.
Often these white lies are a matter of taste: feigning mastery of a foreign novelist to appear sophisticated, winning the boss’s affection by laughing at their unfunny jokes.
Users on Quora recently discussed the question: “What are some things many people pretend to like but don’t actually enjoy?”
The answers are pretty illuminating.
Last month “This American Life” host Ira Glass stirred the pot among theater nerds when he tweeted the unpopular opinion that “Shakespeare sucks.”
On Quora, user Joe Dew did Glass one better by writing a screed against the Bard’s faux fans in rhyming verse.
Dew maintains that while Shakespeare lovers show off their intelligence and education by paying to see his works, the truth is that many don’t even know what the plays are about.
Writes Dew: “If you ask them a simple question/About the story or central tension/You get a blank stare/They’re exposed and unaware/Because they cannot explain their affection.”
2. The Truth
Honesty is a tricky thing. While people tend to admire those who take a stand and speak the truth, very few of us like hearing something hurtful.
As Liam Gorman put it on Quora, “‘Say it to my face’ is a phrase said a lot, but it pisses almost everybody off — at least on the inside — when it’s actually done.”
Bacon is a totally legitimate thing to eat with your eggs, but its fetishization in recent years speaks more to its perceived coolness than to the idea that bacon-flavored coffee is something people actually enjoy (to say nothing of bacon gumballs, bacon lollipops, and bacon dental floss).
“I’m not saying most people don’t like bacon,” writes Quora user Caroline Zelonka. “I’m saying that most people don’t worship the stuff or favor it as an ingredient or flavoring option in just about any food (or even non-food) category out there.”
4. When Their Friends Succeed
“Everyone pretends to be happy for other people,” Quora user Rajsi Rana writes. “Oh, this happened, SO HAPPY FOR YOU.”
In actuality, though, it’s natural for human beings to compare themselves to one another, and someone else’s good news could mean they’re getting ahead of you in their job, relationship, or life path.
Morrissey sang, “We hate it when our friends become successful,” but Rana goes even further.
She writes: “The majority either doesn’t care or feels like ‘I hope you rot in hell, I am not happy for you.'”
Liam Gorman writes, “A huge majority of people I know pretend to like reading a good book, but just hate the intellectual effort and silence involved with it.”
Indeed, there’s research to back up his claim.
A 2013 study of 2,000 members of the British public found that more than 60% of people had lied about reading classic novels, with many using film adaptations and online summaries to feign knowledge.
6. Being Parents
It’s a huge social taboo to talk negatively about your children, but the truth is that having kids is an exhausting, often frustrating experience.
While studies on how having children affects parents’ happiness are inconclusive, Nuno Heartki writes that many parents regret having children, and not enough of them speak openly about their experiences.
“Many real people are simply drained and tired all the time, without ever feeling that the experience of parenting compensates for it,” Heartki writes. “I think there should be awareness about it given somewhere, in order to allow people to understand that having children is not ‘an experience’ or a temporary situation; it’s a dramatic, life-changing, irrevocable choice.”
Self-confidence is a necessary skill for getting ahead in school or the workplace, and sometimes it’s best to just fake it till you make it.
For instance, there’s no way every single person applying for a job truly believes they are the most qualified candidate, but refusing to pretend as much would be fatal to their chances of getting hired. Even teenagers are able to figure out that people are more likely to want to be their friends if they give off the impression they like themselves.
Quora user Adrienne Michelson explains: “People build facades to disguise how they feel about themselves. I’ve seen it a lot as a counselor to pre-teens and also as a student at university. It’s pretty common.”
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