Pants on Fyre

FYRE festival documentary on Netflix

There is a short train ride from Brighton to Portslade that you can take without purchasing a ticket. I’ve ridden this train, sans billet, twice now and each time have been so unbelievably nervous about getting caught. I would spend the entire journey with my eyes glued to the door, waiting for an inspector to burst through and cry out ‘TICKETS PLEASE’. I’d run through the ‘Oh my god, what?! But I didn’t realise my ticket didn’t cover this part of the journey?!’ monologue in my head so that I could make it appear as genuine and innocent as possible. The time it takes to get to Portslade from Brighton is eleven minutes and the price of the ticket £2.70. I mean, COME ON! It’s just not worth it. In the future I need to fork out that extra £2.70 as I practically gave myself an ulcer with the stress of lying.

The lie itself isn’t the problem. It’s the getting caught that makes me so nervous. It’s the thought of someone finding out I’m so blatantly bullshitting. That I’m telling a big fat lie which can’t be covered up without looking like a fool. As physically painful as telling an obvious lie might be I am still prone to hyperbole here and there. A little white lie that is perhaps better described as a small exaggeration. How many people were actually at an event, how hard everyone laughed at my jokes, how much work I’ve done during my day. ‘SO busy…Worked none stop’

What I thought was a LWL actually morphed into a big fat liar, liar pants on fire situ, back in 2000, when I would tell people I knew the drummer from Coldplay. His Mum used to come into the restaurant I was a dishpig at and I overheard a story that he applied for a job there once but couldn’t work Saturdays because he was ‘in a band’. When I moved to London the manager of my new restaurant asked me if I’d heard of this up and coming group called Coldplay.

‘Yes’ I said with all the confidence of a LWLiar ‘I know the drummer’

‘Whow, you know Will?’ She replied excitedly.

‘Oh…erm…well…maybe he’s not the drummer..Um… Guy? Guy Berryman?’

‘Guy plays the bass guitar. How funny you know him? I do too. My brother is their manager’

GULP. Oh god….the ulcer was beginning to form. What I realised at that moment was I am not able to pull off an obvious, blatant big fat lie to someone’s face. But I am so intrigued by those who can.

Last year The Cut wrote an article about Anna Delvey, a German-Russian supposed heiress, who swindled hundreds of people out of thousands of dollars. She bought her way into the New York social scene and flashed her vast wads of cash left, right and centre. She told tall tales about starting up business’, who was involved at what stage and just exactly where she was obtaining all this money she was spunking on everyone. The lies eventually caught up with her and she now currently awaits trial having been charged with multiple counts of grand lacerny.

In January this year Netflix released their FYRE: The greatest party that never happened documentary which, besides going viral over a ridiculous Evian water/blow job story, exposed the hyperbolic tale telling of Billy McFarland and his proposed FYRE musical festival. A festival that turned out to be everything it didn’t say on the tin. For example ~ A functioning event with musical acts, available transport, accommodation, food, WATER! I believe the initial intention behind this project was genuine. But I also believe he was a Class A bullshitter and as time went on and plans started to go downhill he was simply bare face lying to all involved. Even with a raging mob of pissed {English & American version}, dehydrated, hungry millennials circling him he was still lying about what was going to happen next.

The piece de dishonesty for me was hearing about Dan Mallory. A few weeks ago The New Yorker published an astonishing article picking apart a man who lied to get to the top of the publishing world. Who charmed his way into Oxford University, became an editor at a top literary firm…Oh…and no biggie, also said his Mother died, his Father died, his brother died and he had a life threatening brain tumour. To top it all off he has written a best selling novel that has made him a millionaire.

What I am enthralled by, and in equal measures disgusted by, is the obvious need for attention these liars are craving. Their desperate need to be seen as well as heard. To be put on a pedestal, revered for their achievements, listened to with empathy. Who can blame them, right? Attention can be addictive. We live in a world where you are rewarded for how much attention you can gain on social media. How many followers you have. How many likes you can get. The biggest players in the game are those who project a lifestyle of wealth and beauty. Who travel the world and attend parties filled with famous people. Who get sent free clothes for you, your partner AND your child. For the average joe this lifestyle of projected happiness simply isn’t attainable without an exaggeration or three. A photoshopped body here and there, a #livingmybestlife caption, a ‘natural’ shot that has been taken twelve times.

A few years ago I wrote a proposal for a book on Wardrobe Detoxing. It was to be a coffee table sized publication full of beautiful pictures. Like Marie Kondo’s ‘The magic art of tidying up’ only less precious and more dry British humour. My editor’s feedback was a dream

‘This proposal is brilliant. Seriously.  There really isn’t much more I would add.  It’s a cracker. But….’

There’s always a but….I needed 10 000 plus followers on my social media accounts {Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter} to make it a sure fire hit. I needed to exaggerate and exploit my average life to get ahead. The work I did wasn’t enough. The image of an idyllic lifestyle was needed as aspiration for others.

I couldn’t do it and the book lies dormant in my computer. I didn’t get a million dollar book deal like Dan Mallory. I’m not the next Marie Kondo {with less thanking of discarded H&M vests} I couldn’t lie to people’s faces. Instagram lying could be classed as those seemingly harmless Little White Lies but aren’t they all just stemming from the same place of wanting and needing to be noticed?

When did we all start to crave so much attention? Are we all so insecure in ourselves that we need to constantly show off?

Unfortunately I think we are. As stated in The Cut article Neff, a former friend of Anna Delvey’s and a hotel employee, said that 

‘On occasion, when Delvey showed up while the concierge desk was busy, she would stand at the counter, coolly counting out bills until she got Neff’s attention. “I’d be like, ‘Anna, there’s a line of eight people.’ But she’d keep putting money down.” 

Whilst out on bail and waiting to be sentenced Billy McFarland was onto his next scam. He was reconnecting with people on his FYRE mailing list and was once again lying about ‘another great new project that everyone should get on board with’. With the exposure of Dan Mallory’s parents and brother being alive, Mallory has tied up all his nefarious tattle tales with an umbrella statement of alleged bi-polar disorder. His book is still selling and a film has been made of it staring Amy Adams and Julianne Moore.

I am deflated when I read about this type of behaviour. The exposure of the lying might be ulcer inducing at the beginning but then it’s often sensationalised. Focus is not on those who were hurt mentally, physically or financially by  the dishonesty involved. It’s those who are deceitful that garner the fame and fortune. What follows is a tornado of press surrounding it’s exposure, a warts and all documentary, book deals, film scripts, party invites….The fabrication is celebrated.

I think the solution is that we need to pay more attention to each other. HA! I know…Bear with me…Sounds ridiculous but I mean real attention. Focussed, intentional, undistracted attention. We need to listen with empathy to the everyday. We need to celebrate the small achievements as well as the big. Average doesn’t have to mean boring. Normal doesn’t need to be overlooked. Bullshitting shouldn’t be rewarded.




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