I've been thinking a lot lately about authenticity.
What does it actually mean to be "authentic," and where can we find it in the real world?
In the summer of 1999, my family and I went on a trip to Paradise Island in The Bahamas with a few other families. As you can imagine, it was a fun trip, complete with sun and sand, but was also unique in the sense that we stayed next door to the famous Atlantis resort.
The beach is cool, but a lazy river with rapids and a water slide that goes through a shark tank is a lot cooler.
Too bad we didn't have the required "wrist bands" to actually get in... too bad, that is, until one of the parents found a way to sneak us onto the grounds.
If I'm being totally honest, I don't remember a single second of the water park itself. The memory that stuck with me after all these years is the New Years Eve concert we were able to attend thanks to our ill gotten access.
A live New Years Eve concert. In July.
Come the real New Years Eve, our group of families rang in Y2K from the comfort of our homes in Colorado, while simultaneously watching ourselves "enjoy" a concert live at Atlantis for Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve (holy apostrophes, Batman).
Turns out, "live" was just a figure of speech.
In a way, everyone is putting on a front. The face we show our families is different than the one we show our coworkers, and the one we display when we are alone is still different than the one inside our heads.
It's all stories.
Stories we tell ourselves about who we are, and stories we tell the world about who we think we are.
I think that there is no arguing that the pre-recorded live New Years Eve concert featuring a has-been boy band performing their disturbing wet dream themed hit song is about as inauthentic as you can get.
The whole purpose of that story is extrinsic. It's about extracting value from viewers and listeners for the purposes of generating advertising dollars.
Real authenticity is about honest connection. It's about sharing a truth with someone else—not to generate a specific outcome, but to create a relationship.
It's that honesty, or lack thereof, that marks the difference between an authentic and inauthentic experience. No matter how charismatic some people are, when the goal is control instead of honest connection, authenticity is nowhere to be found.
This is post 024 of #100DaysToOffload