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Are we kidding ourselves over authenticity?

Consider my breakfast. “Authentic New York style bagels”. In what way does this sentence make sense? What is a New York bagel as opposed to a New York style one? What is a fake as opposed to an authentic bagel. How can something be authentic if it is already a copy?

You may not care. I however do. I sweat the small stuff because I think it is always an indicator of what is wrong with the big stuff. Specifically, we are being told that we want more authenticity from our suppliers but are still prepared to put up with dishonesty in both large and small things.

What after all is ‘fresh orange juice’ if in reality it has been constructed from concentrated orange extract sent to Europe from the US inside a giant stainless steel tanks. We have been victims of this lie for nearly 50 years. And I think that if we are prepared to put up with a small lie then it is easy for untruth perpetrators to squeeze a much larger one past us.

Fake news is the new reality

And now, spotting the truth is harder than ever. Fake news and digitally enhanced photos are reaching a terrifying level of sophistication. Personally, I think that our instincts tell us what is real and what is fake, but when it comes to calling for authenticity, we had better be sure what we mean.

You are already seeing companies use comforting words about Sustainability and their role in society, but only a handful live their words. Ikea and Marks & Spencer are two companies that practise what they preach. Others are merely providing a warm blanket for customers and shareholders designed to anesthetise rather than communicate a genuine commitment.

A hunger for change

Some of us have clearly had enough of these lies and obfuscations and are constructing our own truth. The current fad for launching new political parties is not merely frustration over Parliament’s inability to deliver Brexit but the way they have managed the language around it.

The problem is, if we construct our own truth in the absence of authenticity from those in positions of power and influence, how are we meant to change anything?

One-way communication flow

We say we need to have a conversation but is this really happening? In reality over 90% of the communications are one way. Information is pushed at us and we are not really being asked to participate other than with our vote or our credit cards.

The answer as always is to change the world one small piece at a time. You may think that separating your rubbish for recycling is pointless in the face of climate change but you are taking part, and that is not pointless if you are part of a movement. But sitting back and colluding in other people’s dishonesty does not help anyone. We have to demand authenticity but at the same time call out bogosity.

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