Authenticity is a contradictory modern value.
We live in an age of pseudo-authenticity. We think we’re being real. Speakers and teachers and preachers talk about “the authentic you” in sermons and books and Ted talks. There is an entire page of books on Amazon with the title “Authenticity” followed by some version of the subtitle “find your true self and inner-harmony”.
But then there are over 28 million staged photos on Instagram with the hashtag #liveauthentic. (Seriously. The number is that high and grows daily. It’s a popular hashtag for “influencers” on Instagram. I don’t know what it means to influence on Instagram or why that’s important. But it’s a thing.)
The tension is we don’t “live authentic” very well. Our authenticity tends to be a little pretentious and staged or mean and annoying.
And I’ll take staged and pretentious authenticity over the mean and annoying kind any day.
No one wants to get their morning coffee from a 22-year old barista who is actually being “authentic” at 6 in the morning. The same could be said about the grumpy 50-year-old who needs coffee at 6:00 AM.
Authenticity can be healing. Authenticity can also be incredibly self-centered and destructive.
Self-awareness owns the difference.
Kindness, humanity, and the gift of dignity is more important than my need to find my authentic self.
So maybe we should seek to be a little less authentic and a little more human.