This is a tough one. The word phony conjures a multitude of thoughts and images. Imposter, fake, charlatan, sham and fraud are a few that come to mind. But what makes a phony a phony? What are the forces that drive this nefarious character to wreak havoc on unsuspecting beings, willy-nilly entering and exiting our lives? It’s a question of the ages, for the phony is no recent invention, but a staple of all eras.
Whether or not we like it, at one time or another, phonies play a role in our lives. We have relationships with them; we do business with them; we socialize with them; and we even vote for them (Of course, we always vote for the one who isn’t.). It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. They appear and do what they do best: charm, seduce, manipulate, confuse, profit and exit.
The phony is ubiquitous. No gender, no age, no ethnicity, no profession has a monopoly. They show up in all shapes, sizes and creeds. From the street-corner hustler to the sophisticated politician, from the young activist to the old rich guy, from the wannabe climber to the glamorous socialite, they hold court on all levels and on all plains. No place is off limits and no place is sacred. Everything and everyone is fair game for them.
Perhaps we have our own moments of phoniness, but a little phoniness does not a phony make. Phonies are tied up in a world of make-believe. Self-absorbed in thought and pretending in action, they go about their day plotting their next escapade. People are but pawns in the game, to be moved and shifted as they desire. Utility is the phony’s clock keeper and when utility is gone, so is the phony. This can be years, sometimes decades, but make no mistake; the phony hangs on only so long as his or her self-interest is at heart.
Depth is not a feature of the phony (see Depth: The Trait that makes us Human…). Deep thought and self-reflection are beyond their realm, but insecurity isn’t. Fear of self-awareness is their trademark, never looking within for fear of what they’d find, or more appropriately for what they won’t find.
At their core is self-disgust embedded with lack of love. It takes self-love to love another, and the phony is incapable of both. Theirs is a world of externals, and only externals. The inner qualities of loyalty, truth and love play little role, if any. Their incessant need for adoration knows no end, as they seek money, sex, status and fame without regard for others, or feigning it when it suits their ends.
The world loves a phony, or so it seems. We fall for them; we pay heed to them, and we even glorify them. But in the end, a phony always remains a phony – a riddle unto itself…
For more, check out The C.A.T. Principle: Change, Action, Trust – Words to Live By, the 2014 Global Ebook Awards GOLD Winner for Best Self-Help Non-Fiction Ebook and the 2016 Global Ebook Awards SILVER Winner for Best Self-Help Non-Fiction Ebook (revised and expanded edition), available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. See latest Amazon reviews here.
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