Manufactured Authenticity

Authenticity: noun. The quality of being authentic.

Authentic: adjective. Representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself.

You are a mystery to me. I know nothing about who you are, where you are, what you believe in. You are, to me, a complete stranger. In a decade or so from now, I will also be a complete stranger to the person who’s currently typing this. According to science, all the cells in my body are going to be replaced by 2030 and I will be a completely different person, at least physically speaking.

How about me as a person? What will I believe in, 10 years from now? Or even tomorrow for that matter. If 2020 taught us anything is that lives can change suddenly and unpredictably.

You are probably wondering what does all this have to do with authenticity and I promise we’ll get to the topic in the title. But let me ask you a question first: what does it mean to be “authentic”? And specifically, what does it mean to be authentic on the internet?

Pretty much everything, on the internet, is curated to a certain extent. Can you imagine what a full day of true “authentic” thinking streamed on twitter would look like? It would be chaos.

Because that is reality of us all: we are messy and chaotic human beings. And yet we are attracted by these hyper curated and organized fake online personas. We follow streamers, instagrammers, twitterers (?), bloggers and youtubers. We look into the lives of these people while subconsciously thinking that the internet persona they put up is an actual reflection of who they are only to then be shocked when they either say or do something “out of character".

And that is because that “something” sticks out like a sore thumb in the sea of manufactured authenticity they have curated over the years. And, don’t get me wrong, I get it. It is understandable why you don’t want to broadcast your “true” self to everyone. But at the same time a part of me keeps wondering what are the lasting effects of this phenomenon going to be. We are already starting to see the effect social media has on the younger generations and my suspicion is that things are only going to get worse over time.

Just to be clear, I claim no expertise in this area. This is just me trying to put into words what my current thoughts are. And that is also a very interesting phenomenon. I’m typing this on the 7th of September 2020. I’ll probably post all this later today. And if you are reading this around that date it means this post is a somewhat good approximation of what my thoughts on this subject are.

But what if you are reading this a month from now. Or six. Or a year? Or even ten years. What if you read this in 2040. I’d be 51. Would I still have the same thoughts on society? Highly unlikely.

Blog posts, tweets, pictures are nothing more that a single data point. They don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.

People change, both physically and mentally. We all accumulate experiences, we grow, we change. We constantly move forward and the only thing that you can really judge is the overall trajectory.

You can’t really tell who I am from a single post on this blog the same way I can’t really tell who you are by a single picture on your Instagram. But over time you can start putting things together, post after post. And that’s how you start to notice the “manufactured authenticity”. Lives with no ups and downs. Lives that are always on point, always on topic. Lives that seem to have no space to fit anything that is not on brand.

Nothing is really authentic on the internet. No matter how much we try. We can only aim for authenticity and try our best to be who we really are with all the quirks and oddities that we possess.

I said it many times but I’ll say it again: I really appreciate when people get in touch with me via email. So if you have anything you want to say or discuss with me please do it. And don’t be afraid, I don’t bite I promise. At least not via email. As I said in this post, people change and so I might have different views now on subjects I wrote about in the past.