Originally Posted by DonnaMaria
I have one goal and it sums up everything.............absolutely everything.
I want to live authentically.
“I THINK what people see in me is that I’m a real person,” Representative Michele Bachmann told ABC News, after her victory in Iowa last month. “I’m authentic.”
Discussing his new daytime television show, Anderson Cooper told The Vancouver Sun that “in everything I’ve done, I’ve always tried to just be authentic and real.”
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in July that “if you fear what people think about you, then you are not being authentic.”
At the same time, legions of marketers and social networking coaches are preaching that to succeed online — on Twitter, Facebook, Match.com — we must all “be authentic!” A proposed panel at next year’s South by Southwest interactive conference promises to teach attendees “how to be authentic and human without embarrassing yourself.”
On dating sites like OkCupid, the word pops up with remarkable frequency in people’s self-descriptions; on eHarmony.com, users can browse dating tips where they are advised that in a healthy relationship, “both individuals feel free to be authentic.”
Authenticity seems to be the value of the moment, rolling off the tongues of politicians, celebrities, Web gurus, college admissions advisers, reality television stars. In recent months it’s been cited by the likes of Katie Couric (“I think I love to be my authentic self,” she said on CBS); Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (“I believe in being as authentic as possible,” she told Glamour magazine); former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania (who on Fox described himself as “being authentic”), even Pope Benedict XVI (more on that in a moment).
The word has been bandied about for ages, be it by politicians or Oprah Winfrey, who popularized the notion of discovering your “authentic self” in the late 1990s after reading Sarah Ban Breathnach’s “Something More.” But “authentic” is enjoying renewed popularity in an age of online social networking and dating, in which people are cultivating digital versions of themselves. The theme is so pervasive that even one of the oldest institutions in the world has weighed in. In a June statement entitled “Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age,” Pope Benedict XVI said that increasing involvement in online life “inevitably poses questions not only of how to act properly, but also about the authenticity of one’s own being.” He added that “there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful, and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself.”
That “authentic” has become a fad word is not surprising to scholars like Naomi S. Baron, a linguistics professor at American University in Washington and the author of “Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World.” She said it’s common for some words to be used so often that they actually become devoid of meaning.
Take the word “awesome.” Technically it should be used to describe an awe-inspiring sight like the fjords in Norway, but these days “awesome” is a perfectly acceptable response to something as mundane as “I can meet you for lunch at noon.” Similarly, saying, “I’m authentic” or “be authentic” just sounds good, she said.
Yet more intriguing than the proliferation of the word “authentic” is the self-conscious way in which it’s now being used.
“What you can’t do is be told by a social media guru to act authentic and still be authentic,” said Jeff Pooley, an associate professor of media and communication at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. He said authenticity today is more accurately described as “calculated authenticity” — a k a stage management.
“The best way to sell yourself is to not appear to be selling yourself,” Professor Pooley said. Politicians do it. Celebrities do it. And you, reader, do it every time you tap out a status update on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.
Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. After all, scholars say people have always maintained multiple selves: there’s the version that you present to your family, the you that you are with your colleagues, the you that you are with members of your poker club. They are all, in some way, “you.” It’s what the sociologist Erving Goffman was referring to in the late 1950s when he likened all human interaction to theatrical performance.
Life online is no different. As one of Professor Baron’s students told her: Facebook is “me on my best day.”
This calculated authenticity is obvious in politics.
“It’s become one of the major things that political strategists care about,” said George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision.” He said that Richard B. Wirthlin, the pollster and adviser to President Ronald Reagan, discovered that a major reason people who didn’t see eye to eye with President Reagan voted for him anyway was because he appeared to be authentic. “He seemed to believe what he said,” Professor Lakoff said. Lauding one’s own authenticity, however, is a nascent development. “Years ago, strategists figured out what to do but they didn’t tell people what they were doing,” Professor Lakoff said. “It’s terrible to use the word. If you use the word, it always counts against you.”
Consider Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a Republican presidential candidate who bills himself as an “authentic conservative.” As The Huffington Post put it in June: “The question ultimately becomes how authentic can Huntsman be in selling his ‘authenticity’?”
And therein lies the problem eventually. The more people shill their authenticity, Professor Pooley said, “the more we want something real.”
Or at least some acknowledgment of the artifice.
Take Nicki Minaj, the hip-hop singer who has purposefully adopted theatrical alter egos with names like Roman Zolanski and Nicki Teresa.
“I’m definitely playing a role,” Ms. Minaj explained in BlackBook magazine. “They don’t pay to see me roll out of bed with crust in my eyes, and say, ‘Hey guys, this is me, authentic.’ They pay for a show.”
"Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."
--Hugh Latimer, October 16, 1555