Can We Stop Arguing Over the Word Authentic?

What is authentic? What is authenticity? How do I know if I’m being authentic? Is that person really authentic?

Ahh. So much noise.

And I’ve been here before. I remember being a part of my local feminist network as a student, being part of an activist movement as part of my career and being part of community groups.

Everyone starts wide-eyed and optimistic. We’d talk about things we could do to make the world a better place. We’d start with big dreams, ridiculously innovative ways of making them into reality, and hope.

Well, that was until the debates started. Debates over semantics, deliberating over terminology and turning in and fighting ourselves, instead of the bullshit world that put us all together in the same room in the first place.

One day, instead of talking about doing things, it became talking about talking.

And the important stuff? It became much less important. It got too academic, too removed from reality and for me? WAY too much bullshit.

The important stuff disappeared from the conversation entirely.

That’s exactly how I see so many conversations turning online. What is authentic? What’s the actual definition of vulnerability? And who has the right to be the voice on the subject? Shouldn’t words like authentic and passionate be banned because it’s so over-used?

It’s like we need to agree on a dictionary definition and find a general consensus like a herd of sheep before we can even start to move forward. Like we need to find an ‘approved’ list of terminology for conceptual ideas, and strategically use them (but not too much) at the right time and place for the right meaning.

I mean, come on.

Can we just, for once, instead of fighting and turning inwards, celebrate the fact that there is a space in the world, amid all of the corruption, injustice and suffering, where people are living according to their values, having discussions about those values and living an honest life? And trying to make the world a brighter place.


And a space where we’re even able to have the discussions in the first place?

Can we celebrate the fact that authenticity, honesty, vulnerability, courage, ALL of it is going to look different to everyone based on our life experiences, and appreciate that?

What is authentic for me, won’t be authentic for you. What’s real for me won’t be real for you. My story is going to look different from your story. My truths are different from your truths. There are going to be similarities, there are going to be sticking points, but there are always going to be differences.

So, can we just agree to each have our own definition? And celebrate the shit out of that?

Isn’t that the whole fucking point?

We’re going to be over analysing until we forget the important things. And the shit we’re talking about? It IS important.

So many times, movements, discussions and world changing conversations are completely tripped up over power struggles, a need to be right and nitpicky arguments about semantics. This isn’t just about the word authenticity, you know this as well as me. It’s about the language of any movement or any value system that tries to put good shit in the world.

Let’s put an end to this and call it quits and get down to the really important stuff.


I'd love to hear your views and experiences in the comments below!