My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fake it till you make it

Sometime in mind 90's I was sitting in my school auditorium with friends waiting for the swamiji to come. He used to come every year and used to interact with us. I don't recall his name, but his face is so clearly etched in my memory, it had tonnes of happiness sprinkled all over it, and he seemed content with everything. In fact when I read Hesse's Siddhartha years later I was reminded of him.

Mamaji of one of my batchmates in school, Swamiji had left his family and a well-paid job as a Chemical Engineer (he studied at Jadavpur University, so many awesome engineers in the country came from there in the mid 70's, ask a bong and their heart still beats for the place) to join Ramakrishna mission (around the same time DD showed the movie on Swami Vivekananda, in which Paramahamsa was beautifully played by Mithunda, and I also read some literature by both the teacher and disciple).

That day Swamiji talked on the topic, of Fake it till you make it. He discussed it in the context of shedding away inhibitions, developing confidence and all. I don't remember exactly what he talked but that phrase just stuck on. And I came across it again during the ethics course at SP, when we were discussing Geeta.

You imitate something which you can't do naturally, and slowly it becomes a habit and you are in a comfort zone with it. Like lets say one asks me to talk less for some days, even if I am uncomfortable doing it, slowly faking the habit can actually lead to me adapting and enjoying the change.

Travel through the markets and you always see these distortions. Obviously many don't observe it, but look closely and one is sure to find packs of well known brands Fair and Lively, Luk, Colgote, Bora Plus, Ankor swtiches, Paracheet, Detol and so many more. The market for counterfeit/fake/me-too (products which look and feel the same as original, many a times come from Registered companies, the visual elements are same but the names are slightly different) products in India is huge and continues to grow at a similar speed if not more as the real products are growing.

I remember having this discussion with Sagar, KK and our Professor of Consumer Behavior (one of the best courses I did in the second year) on me-too brands and why does someone buy it. Well in most cases the prices are similar (for the retailer though the me-too brands offer heavy discounting), but the Indian consumer just goes for the colours and visual elements mostly. Like if he visits a small shop and asks for a toothpaste and receives something which is a red colored tube with white font over it and the symbols appear somewhat relevant he doesn't event think. Same for a cream and a pink and white tube. Although we think its as practice prevalent in smaller towns and villages, how many of us actually check/inspect the products we buy? I even consider the main competitor of Glucon-D launched by a top FMCG company in the country to be a me-too, the visual elements are copied, and only after a court ruling they managed to get the family pic and the font changed (both of them so symbolic of the Glucon-D pack).

If the appearance is mostly similar, you can actually push through the fake ones, and the original ones despite all their efforts are at loss. But in the long term does it work out for small players, or they just make some money and maybe will switch businesses or disappear over a period of time?

In the past couple of years I discovered another huge market with a high penetration of fakes in the system, that of people. Although this is a much more complex market, its extremely difficult to identify fakes. Past couple of year I found many people who were experts in the art of faking, being a different person than what you are with many people, turnaround and not necessarily think the same about so many. Be best friends in front of the world and then crib about them behind their backs. You found them all over, from fighting on organizing events, to fighting over the best jobs. Even the hugs at final farewell parties, the singing together of Puraani Jeans / Yaaro Dosti songs (with so many people as if you are actually going to be in touch with even 10% of them over the next year). Talking bullshit about people in hostels and liking them on Facebook pics. So many things, so many instances. But its not bad, its just the way one is.

And there were few who tried to be honest and conveyed whatever they thought about the person in front of them and mostly landed into trouble. But those who faked had a much better time, they didn't fall into unnecessary jhamelas. Again not bad, but its just the way one is.

Couple of them I knew very closely were what we called experts in faking, they had the ability to change the way they behaved with different sets of people and sometimes just kill the real feeling, brilliant they were! The visual elements were mostly same, so was the outer appearance, but the product was not the original one.

So is faking worth it? I don't know about that but certainly being honest is surely not worth it.


wise donkey said...

hmmm i wondered for a minute if i can fake read this post and post a comment.
its easy, type, nice one or inspiring or thought provoking. for that matter why type, why one can copy paste.
but if i had done it the loss would have been mine.
certain things are worth faking like changing to a better habit. for eg. if we taste some stuff around 10 times, it becomes easier to eat it in future.

but i think the fake facebook friends and fake relationships just don't make anything. its just a waste of time, living up to an idea, which isn't real and deep in one's heart, one knows it.

fake it but it better be worth it and which would give a permanent pleasure, not a temporary sensation of feel good brain chemicals.

hmmm did i make sense?

wise donkey said...

there is a difference between the 2 ends of faking it.
the first positive faking it, is more of evolving.
while the negative faking is just hiding, your true identity for sake of popularity.

on fake brands,almost 50% of Indians are illiterate. so the manufacturers think they would go by logos and colors and not check the spellings, i think.

Phoenixritu said...

Profound post. When you say faking behavior, I think the vedas say, "We must "be" before we can "do", and it deals with mental growth. Faking your personality just to be popular definitely does not fall in the category of mental growth, it is a fraud.

kaamchor said...

bahut badhiya likha hai..kayi post padhe aapke..achha likhte ho

silent thoughts said...

Kurt Vonnegut said "WE ARE WHAT WE PRETEND TO BE". Your post makes one realize the same. Beautiful way of citing examples and instances. Does teach something. :)