Lots of times it may be hard to detect the difference initially, but eventually either the "cream rises to the top" or the "face of phoniness flies open." It usually doesn't take long. Quite often body language gives it away. Or you get that..."I gotta go wash this off my hands" revelation. Phoniness is wrought with slickness, greed, false hope, a need for power and control (usually at the expense of you or someone else - but certainly not them), and - of course there's the bad makeup, clothes, hairdo/haircut, and/or jewelry (okay...maybe not the last four!).
Sometimes I gotta laugh at the incessant desire for some folks to overcompensate for their insecurities. After all, that's where the lack of authenticity usually comes from...doesn't it? After laughter comes the realization of sadness. Why aren't people just real. Who really cares what car you drive, how much money you have, or what your title is...really - who cares?! Those things may make you happy, and that's great - but when it's flaunted or used to pull one person into the web of someone else, that's another story. When the lack of authenticity is spotted early it can save you lots of angst, time and probably money as well. When it's not...it can create years of frustration.
The marketing and advertising industries within our society thrive on making people feel dispirited and not worthy and consequently, they need to compensate for low self-esteem by creating a false self. And...because of that, many people live as non-authentic beings - when they could just as easily realize that they're okay just the way they are! And...be much happier - both outwardly and, more importantly...inwardly.
Our culture loves to divide - whether it's religion, nationalism, race, or position. I can get into a diatribe about each of those mental constructs, but that's for another post. However, that's why I'm not big on titles. They seem to create an air of subjugation and separation. Often putting one group (or individual) below that of the titled. Therefore, I request that my students call me Dan, because Professor doesn't appear on my Birth Certificate, nor do the initials behind my name, or the word Doctor (which I'm not - but many insist on calling me) in front of it. I realize that some students have trouble with that from a cultural perspective. Consequently, I understand their discomfort and don't force the issue. But...you can bet they know I'm their professor. The title isn't necessary. The grades, unfortunately, are.
Years ago I wrote a book in which I spoke about the fact that leaders don't need titles. True leaders lead because of their actions not because of their titles. I don't address people by their titles. I know that might fly in the face of what most people believe...that calling someone by their title is a sign of respect to that person. However, I see it in the opposite light. What respect does it give to the person addressing? Respect comes from how one treats people, not what their title is. In other words, I don't believe ANYONE should be superficially made to seem greater or lesser than anyone else (including me). Titles seem to want to belie that fact. They are only descriptors and nothing more.
I appreciate the fact the someone (again - including me) went on to get additional degrees or performed certain functions that got them a "higher" position, certification, or rank, but...that goes after their name and/or on their resume. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that all people who put titles in front of their names aren't authentic and/or secure, and I'm sure most of them deserve those titles. I'm not judging them, just stating what I deem to be a societal norm. However...it certainly isn't necessary - and still creates a type of class structure.
Love, happiness, contentment, security, compassion, honesty, and empathy come from within. Someone who isn't "real" (regardless of their position) has a hard time displaying those important emotions in a way that reflects those things in their truest sense - and somehow people know that. Inauthentic behavior won't stand the test of time. It may be able to fool, as the saying goes..."Some of the people some of the time." But eventually it gets revealed. Your job is to not be the fool.
We must ALWAYS remember that no one is (or should be made to feel) greater or lesser than anyone else. Sure, some of us have greater or lesser knowledge in some areas than others, however...the reverse is ALWAYS true as well. That only means that the teacher is also the student, the doctor...the patient, the master...the apprentice. Happiness is here now. Do not let someone tell you, or make you feel, otherwise. They may guide you and help you, but they will be you in some other capacity. Of that you can be certain. So my friends, be authentic - ALWAYS. Your spirit is too important to live any other way.
I leave you with two quotes. Both of which I share with my students:
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." Jiddu Krishnamurti
"Everything is meaningless except for love." Ralph Goldberg (my father)