Being authentic…

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… is pretty easy on a blog, because I don’t have to see anyone’s reaction! 😆 Other areas of life are not so simple.

At the weekend someone was telling me about how the “nuclear family” way of living has created a divide between public and private life that never used to exist. By boxing ourselves away in neat little nuclear families, we have given ourselves the opportunity to be inauthentic with everyone else outside of that box, which just wasn’t possible in, say, the Glasgow tenements of 100 years ago, or African villages, or Indian slums, or even Algerian apartments where the whole extended family is in your face.

And so now people queue up for X Factor or Big Brother, wanting to be famous, probably because our culture is so inauthentic that they feel no-one really knows and appreciates them and they have no value to the faceless sea of strangers around them in their lives.

It puzzled me to notice that people were so comparatively self-assured in a culture is that is as harsh as the desert it grew out of. Rebukes and loyalty are both fierce over there, and I guess it does toughen people up. I think it toughened me up.

Here we are just cold – we go through the motions of politeness, knowing that everyone is hiding so much. We never really know where we stand with people. No wonder we go searching for extreme forms of affirmation.

At a certain point in any friendship there is always an opportunity to say something uncomfortably real, something risky. A criticism or a compliment that, if kept to yourself, would impoverish your relationship, your own authenticity, and the other person’s well-being, but that also might scare the friend away if you do share it. A revelation about yourself that might lead to a deeper connection, or to rejection. A piece of advice that might hit the nail on the head, or miss and make things worse.

It is through avoidance that fear can grow, and this is one of the luxuries of the modern world – we can avoid so many risks; being authentic is just one of them. Everything is highly sanitised and it actually weakens our defenses.

I have only ever regretted the risks I didn’t take. Isn’t that astonishing?

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4 responses »

  1. Really good post. I heard the thing that ruined Americans reaching out was the television. Used to, people would sit outside on their porches, visiting neighbors and family. Now people go to work and often come home and get entertained by the TV. I think it’s rather sad.

    • Yes, I think TV (and now internet) must have taken a lot away from the community experience. Although now we have different kinds of communities on the internet! 😀

  2. This is a really interesting post – I had not really thought about reality tv like that before!

    “At a certain point in any friendship there is always an opportunity to say something uncomfortably real, something risky.” – Yes there is and it tends to be those relationships where you take the risk and you get away with it that you then feel most comfortable…they become the ”authentic” relationships don’t they because it’s those people who really know you in all your detail. They accept it.

    TV and yeah internet now. I don’t know if you read my post about the TV. We got rid of ours, or it’s packed away anyway. But we still have internet and so we are far from media free. We still watch some shows, we still have access to movies etc. We are more choosy about what we watch.

    “we go through the motions of politeness, knowing that everyone is hiding so much. We never really know where we stand with people.” – Does it give you the creeps sometimes? It does me….

    • “it tends to be those relationships where you take the risk and you get away with it that you then feel most comfortable…”
      Yes, absolutely… and sometimes I feel like keeping things superficial is too much effort with not enough reward… I crave depth and honesty!

      I don’t know if it gives me the creeps, but I definitely am uncomfortable with it – I wish people would be more direct, and I feel like insincere pleasantry really just kills my feeling of connection with a person.

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