Authenticity is buzz word that is used a lot nowadays to describe the consistent behaviour that some people seem to rate highly from public figures and also from associates in daily interaction. It is prized to the extent that people who aim to be urbane and socially flexible are sometimes regarded as untrustworthy in some quarters. Where does one draw the line between “fake” or “insincere” actions and “boorish” or “anti-social” antics?
From childhood, most folks are trained by the adults in their lives to observe manners and social niceties. These boundaries exist in order to facilitate smooth communication, so we can get on with our lives without stepping on each other’s toes. When a person asks me “How are you?” and I respond “ I’m alright, thank you”, we are going through a ritual of acknowledging presence, that doesn’t really aim to delve deeply into what’s going on for me. This depends on how close I feel to the person who asked the question and how long ago we last met, of course.
Perhaps the work of spin doctors and image makers that dominated the realm of politics for several decades left many voters feeling confused or frustrated regarding the sincerity of the politicians that we vote for, but I wonder if the “authentic” behaviour of the current crop of leaders has brought about any more honesty in the public discourse, or has improved social cohesion in any way.
I guess I must be an old fogey to prefer to observe good manners and to sometimes search for non confrontational ways to sort out problems in communication, but I think I’ll stick to keeping up my standards of what I see as genteel social conduct.
When I encounter those who prefer to be “authentic” in their dealings, thus coming across as inconsiderate or lacking in manners, I will file away my impressions of what they are like for future reference and will act accordingly.