Sincerity vs. Authenticity: The New Metrics of Our Time
“Unfortunately, no one can be told what the matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”
We are living in very interesting times, to paraphrase this year’s Venice Biennale title. It may be that we are more aware than ever that the world is essentially ending, that all the rules we thought we had in place to achieve a minimum level of humanity and civility were not rules as much as suggestions. We live precariously every day. YOLO, et cetera.
Add to that feeling of constantly living on the edge the relentless bombardment of information via social media. We are always processing—the news, the influencer engagements; brands interacting with the public like they’re BFFs; brands creating influencers to interact with the public like they’re BFFs; the cancellation of celebrities and personalities current and long gone. As a certain so-canceled celebrity once sang with his sister,“It makes me wanna scream.”
The thing about a scream, about truly screaming, is that it is supposed to be an authentic expression of emotion. In this economy, nothing is more important than authenticity. Similarly positioned to authenticity is sincerity; although at first glance they bear a passing resemblance, they are fundamentally different. Beyoncé is sincere. Rihanna is authentic.
Sincerity and authenticity are the new metrics of what is real, and who is real, in a world where it’s become increasingly harder to tell the difference. One is not inherently better than the other—nor are they mutually exclusive—but they both are a perfect indicator of where we currently stand as a culture. In the ’90s, Generation X was the generation of sarcasm, of skepticism, of“oh, well,” “whatever,” “never mind.” Millennials and those too young to be millennials brought back ’90s fashion and culture, but have chosen to leave behind the attitude. And so, in the year 2019, as we continue to edge closer and closer to total destruction, we are choosing life, choosing love, choosing to live our lives as our true selves. Sincere and authentic. Or, at least, one of them.