The Corruption of Authenticity

The derision and drama on blogs, news and broadcast nowadays is entertaining, like a domino of tabloids back-to-back. And while we instinctively know that insistent self-actualization is an incredibly banal form of entertainment, it remains so vast in its infectiousness, and so strong in its self-referential feeding, that navel-gazing is now suffocating in its empire.

Let’s poke some holes for air.

You are not genuine because you told me of your heartbreak, or your success or your disease or your strengths or your weaknesses or miscarriage or move or relationship or promotion or demotion or disability or conflict or how your cat peed outside of its litter box.

Gross over-sharing is not encouraging or revolutionary or innovative. You are not absolved because you made what was once private now public.

Enough of the cultish drippy-rainbowed sentences: “What’s holding you back? Yourself;” “Motivation is first about taking that first step;” “Do whatever you want, your intuition will guide you;” “Force yourself to look inward;” “Start telling yourself positive things instead of negative things.”

Enough crowdsourcing your life’s misdeeds, your life’s lessons, your life’s minutiae. Enough with bogus empowerment, dramatics, and inflated realities in the name of support, transparency, attention, acceptance. That is not authenticity. That is allegiance to a culture of nineties motivational speeches.

“For me, the demand that everything be paraded in the public space and that there be no internal forum is a glaring sign of the totalitarianization of democracy,” philosopher Jacques Derrida maintains. “If a right to a secret is not maintained then we are in a totalitarian space.”

“Which is to say,” author Zadie Smith argues in Changing My Mind, “enough of human dissection, of entering the brains of characters, cracking them open, rooting every secret out!”

Authenticity is not about revealing it all, nor complete transparency, nor opening the door and shining a very bright light on every raised goosebump. Authenticity is not about blurring public with private. Authenticity is not about the flailing and flapping of our entire hearts and minds to an audience of mirrored hosts.

We have a right to our private lives. Dear God, we have a right to keep the corners of our lives to ourselves. And it is delicious to do so.

Gulp of Air.