It might come as no surprise that the word “authentic” has claimed its throne after being recognised by the Oxford University Press, as 2023’s Word Of The Year. Once a humble adjective, “authentic” has now become the centrepiece in the vocabularies of marketers, influencers, and corporate cultures. But in its overuse, have we actually lost touch with what “authentic” truly means?
The Oxford English Dictionary describes “authentic” as of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine. Originally, it was applied to objects to demonstrate their legitimacy and originality. But as language evolved, so did the word’s usage. “Authentic” began to describe experiences and, most prominently, people.
Being authentic means being true to one’s self with actions that follow through. Personality, spirit, or character, uninfluenced by external forces. It’s about being genuine, not only in how we present ourselves to the world but also in how we live our lives, make decisions, and interact with others.
But in the world of social media marketing, “authentic” is often used as a catch-all term to promote products, lifestyles, and personalities. It’s not uncommon to see some people label their emotions as authentic when they show up on camera unfiltered or to describe the real human emotion they are experiencing in that exact time. Which is wonderful – if this is really what is authentic to them.
What I think I had the most trouble understanding about this, is when in these same moments of authenticity, people often claim if you are not showing your face on camera, or sharing your very human emotion across social media, that you are indeed not authentic.
As a marketer, an introvert, and a hard working woman who is building a business, that chooses not to tie a dominant personal brand to, I have been shamed by others in my industry that I;
- Am not pushing out of my comfort zone
- Not “showing up” for my followers
- Not being authentic
I can see how this may very well seem “unauthentic” to those who align with this behaviour, but for me, myself and I, this would be anything but authentic.
By not adhering to algorithms, social media marketing best practices, and industry demands, but staying true to how I choose to share my story, vulnerabilities, business and brand, is this not exactly the essence of authenticity?
If it means what it says it does, to make choices that resonate with your core values, even if they go against the grain, be consistent in your words and actions, and maintain integrity even when it’s not the easy path, I think I have passed my authenticity test, and hope that we all can appreciate the word and the meaning for what it really stands for’.
By being authentically YOU! No matter what external forces imply.