Fake it til you make it
So, what is it about this statement that I don't like? Well, for one, I think it's kind of controlling and maybe even manipulative. In a sense, it's putting conditions on how someone else must act in order to be considered a friend. And sure, I do have conditions on what kind of behavior I expect from people in order to consider them friends. But I'm just not sure exactly what those expectations should be, and I don't know if "fakeness", as commonly defined, is one thing which should be prohibited.
So, when I hear the word "fake" in this context, what does it mean to me? A "fake friend" would be someone who pretends to like me--perhaps in order to get something from me such as a favor, money, or some possession--but who really doesn't like me. I don't see an immediate reason why this should be off-putting. Yes, I understand the betrayal and the loss of trust if such a friend were discovered. However, if someone is kind to me, I appreciate that behavior, whether it is genuine or merely a façade in order to take advantage of me. I enjoy being treated well. I like people being nice to me and doing nice things for me. I like compliments. I like hanging out with people and doing things that we both find fun and interesting. If the other person isn't enjoying the hanging out as much as I am, I do feel bad for em, but I am grateful that ey is willing to hang out with me and make me feel good.
Perhaps a friend is polite to my face but gossips about me behind my back. Perhaps ey makes up false rumors about me in order to malign my character. This would indeed be hurtful. It would indeed be devastating for me to discover. I would feel betrayed. I would be hurt. I would probably be angry and upset. But I know that other people who are true friends will not believe these false rumors without verifying them. That is, if Bob tells Sam something about me which casts me in a negative light and Sam is a true friend, I would expect Sam to come to me and ask about it, or use some other means to ascertain the truth of the matter. Thus, the effect of Bob's betrayal is lessened by other friends who are sincere.
But I think that one of the biggest reasons why this sentence does not sit well with me is the apparent hypocrisy. To me, friendship entails loyalty. If I were to do something which hurt a friend, I would hope that friend would give me the benefit of the doubt and assume that the hurt was unintentional. Indeed, I often do hurt friends and it is almost always unintentional. So, if a friend of mine does something which I feel is hurtful, I feel that I owe em the benefit of the doubt and that I should remain friends with em regardless of this hurtful action. That is, if I feel that a friend has done something which would be classified as "fake", I feel that I owe it to em to find out if this was malicious or inadvertent. Perhaps Bob said something to Sam which Sam misinterpreted. It wasn't gossip at all, it was simply misconstrued. I owe it to Bob to start off with the assumption that no harm was intended. In other words, I think that someone who has the mentality of "If you're a 'fake friend', then you're no friend of mine." is emself a fake friend.
I don't want to be a fake friend. I don't mean to be a fake friend. Yes, sometimes I do talk about my friends when they're not around, and sometimes the things I say are not all positive. But I don't mean to gossip. I don't mean to malign anyone's character by what I say. I might be pointing out an idiosyncrasy which I think is humorous. This could easily be construed as gossip, and it could certainly be hurtful if it reached the ears of the person being discussed through the wrong channel. However, I did not mean it to be hurtful, I meant it to be endearing. I'm sure I do things on a regular basis which could possibly be construed as me being a "fake friend". But I really don't mean to be. I mean to be sincere in all of my relationships. I mean to be honest and upfront. I mean to avoid gossip. I mean well.