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In our interconnected world is it easier or harder to be authentic?

"Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures; the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself" - Wikipedia

Authenticity is often considered a difficult state to achieve, partly because of the pressure to conform to social constructed norms, and partly due to a person's own character.

Heidegger associated authenticity with non-technological modes of existence, seeing technology as distorting a more "authentic" relationship with the natural world.

Nietzsche lamented "herding animal morality".

Is the diversity of ideas flooding our conscience in the interconnected world fostering independent thought, or is it increasing the pressure to adopt ideals that are not true to ourselves? Does it perpetuate an "illusion of individuality"?

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    Feb 20 2014: well, I would say in an interconnected world there are more opportunities for socializing. I would think as you socialize, if you are inauthentic people will spot it and somehow call you on it, or send you a message that you are being inauthentic. So I would think it is easier.
  • Feb 16 2014: At first I run wild with different names and identities with the freedom of the internet but then I saw what an advantage honest people have on Ebay and Amazon as they built an online reputation. Now I use my real name and try my best to treat other people well and be honest, just like the "real" world.
  • Feb 15 2014: Who evaluates your authenticity?

    The increase in interconnectedness provides more opportunity to be subjected to other opinions, pressures, influences and the like, but it also offers increased exposure to fresh ideas and new creative thoughts. The degree to which you are influenced by these things is a function of your interpretation of their merit relative to your own thoughts and ideas. Changing your ideas and thoughts because you think the new information is better or more in-line with your values is not loss in authenticity, but rather learning and growing. Loss of authenticity comes when this new information is too readily accepted relative to your previous ideas and thoughts.

    Another question to consider here is 'Does your pursuit of authenticity drive your opinion about the best ideas and thoughts?' I think to be authentic you must truly believe that your thoughts and ideas reflect the best judgement and balance of your past experience and learning. Authenticity is exuded by confidence in thought and action. Your focus at this level is more about what you are doing and thinking rather than what others think you should be doing or thinking.

    I think Heidegger's view was too purist. It is easy to rationalize lack of influence when it is just man against nature. However, there is technology in the real world. Using it to learn, create new things, or be inspired in new areas should not be an attack on one's authenticity.

    I think Nietzche's point about sacrificing authenticity to remain a member of the herd is also purist as the only way to be not influenced by a "herding animal morality" is to live separate from the herd. These animals die after 1 generation.

    Heidegger's point about being to influenced by the convenience of technology and Nietzsche's point about being too influenced by others are good points. People spend a lot of time finding, and then defining themselves and their ideals.

    Authenticity is strength in the belief you act independently.
    • Feb 15 2014: Interesting thoughts Robert.

      No doubt, we're the judge of our authenticity. A task exasperated by our incessant internal dialogue that drifts on our stream of consciousness. The source of which we are only partially aware.

      "Does your pursuit of authenticity drive your opinion about the best ideas and thoughts?'" I think you have hit upon the crux of it…

      What is best? It seems to me our choices are often simply the best way to avoid discord in our lives or the best way to construct a formidable persona to buffer us from judgements that might challenge our sense of self.

      It also seems that our fractured online presence propagates multiple personas in varied virtual psychological environments.I think the lack of unity may hamper our ability to reflect on our core values. It's like cognitive white noise.