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  Sincerely insincere  


The worth of genuineness has gone high, high up. I honestly would prefer to hear a brutally honest opinion to a superfluously sugarcoated one.But instead, most of the times I think I always end up encountering the latter.

“Oh I love your shirt,” is often followed by mocking conversations amidst other partners in crime. “I value time” is followed by regular unpunctuality. My point being, people say things without really meaning them; people do things without really committing to them.

Yes indeed, the world has mastered the art of becoming sincerely insincere. And frankly, we brought this upon us ourselves.

Look how easily a simple compliment can inflate our egos. The flattery might have been nothing more than the person buttering us up: the person might not at all have meant what he acknowledged, and yet we’ll be on cloud nine favoring that very person over others.

No wonder, a friend of mine advised me to become “friends” with one of the insiders in the government building that we so often have to frequent to get our visas extended here in Thailand.

“Last time I was there, I made small take with her and complimented on her organization skills,” she poured valuable advice my way. Then she also added, “But I have to tell you, her desk was a filthy mess.”

Then why did you compliment her on being so meticulous?

“Because I knew she would let me jump the queue if I could get her to like me.”

It was that simple, of course. An ulterior motive goes a long way in making headway – a point duly noted.

Such harmless cases aside, reflecting on the sorts of conniving persons we have the capability to become is frightening. And as a motivator, people who seem to add on “extra perks” to their jobs, instead of the other way round, seem to get far ahead. Moreover, it seems that nobody believes in being true to oneself anymore; all the emphasis seems to be on being “politically correct” – whatever that means.

It’s surprising that most people today think along the lines of “What’s likening got to do with hiring someone to help you build your business?” The real question is, “Can they be helpful to you?”

If someone can be a means to get to your desired end, then regardless of the situation, it seems highly probable that we end up doing whatever it takes to get them on our team, including feigning likeability.

That’s why I claim that it has become impossible to understand, for me at least, when someone is being genuine or when someone is just faking it.

This is why I’ve learnt to take all the praises that come my way with a grain of salt, genuine or otherwise. This is also why I’ve learnt to appreciate a genuinely rude remark over a seemingly frivolous compliment and have learnt to appreciate the value of being critical.

I don’t know if I’m being absurd when I say that I feel criticism comes from a more genuine place than a compliment. But I do know that I’ve felt this way for long. And if I’ve felt this way for long, then I encourage you to think about it and maybe shed some light on this matter for me.

But until convinced otherwise, I would like to believe that the art with which insincerity has been mastered is commendable indeed. It has fitted in so easily with us that very often we subconsciously end up pretending to feel a certain way even though we might be opposed to it in reality.

What happens to me in most cases is that I acknowledge a friend for something I truly admire. And then I see this friend sitting with another friend or a group of friends and then my desire to pass on compliments get triggered till I’ve complimented each and every one of them without ever having intended to.

See, so I’m not claiming that our insincerity comes solely from a dark corner. Sometimes, the very fact that we want to respect someone else’s sentiments might propel us to go a step beyond rigid morals and use a bit of white lie.

But how appealing a superficial admiration really is is open to debate: and a rather perplexing debate at that, for it requires great mulling over a fundamental concept – like sincerity.

Ayushma Basnyat is a student of Political Science at Thammasat University who enjoys exploring life and all that it has to offer.

Published on 2012-02-10 11:45:20
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