The thing our generation wants most is to appear authentic. But sometimes I think this “authenticity” ends up feeling as fabricated as polyester.
Perhaps you’ve seen the article about hipster Barbie and her “authentic” life. If you haven’t, check it out, it’s golden. And it makes a stellar point: The attempt for authenticity turns into a popularity contest or even an adventure trophy closet. We don’t just seek to experience the world—we want others to know how we are living life and how artsy we can make it look.
So, how can we cultivate actual authenticity in this golden age of social media? How do we shift the focus from presentation of experience to actual experience?
Jim Elliot said: “Wherever you are, be all there.” If you want to live authentically, you cannot always be envisioning ways to make something photo-worthy or culturally relevant. You can’t live your life for someone else’s high opinion. Be submersed in your own surroundings.
I’m not saying we should stop taking pictures of beautiful food or stop capturing those exciting adventures. It’s more about the motivation. Are we actually creating a beautiful meal to be enjoyed by the people we make it for, or do we arrange it for the display we can make for the rest of the world? Are we taking pictures to remember or to showcase? We cannot be so focused on presentation that we miss the beauty in front of our eyes.
Sometimes, I do think it’s important to put down the camera altogether. One day I wanted to take a picture of my friend because it seemed like a perfect moment: she was standing by a beautiful overlook sweeping down into a valley which was beginning to tinge with the glow of fall.
“No, it’s okay, I’ll just remember it,” she said.
I think we often forget to store things in our actual memory when we only see them through a lens. Instead, let your eyes be your lens and let the world affect you; don’t try to affect someone else who can only see your two-dimensional version.
We can’t fully experience something if we are more concerned with what someone else will think of it. We have to remember that we do things to experience life, not for the high we get when people tap that little empty heart or that “thumbs up.” When you experience, do it fully, do it authentically. Don’t give half of yourself and lock the other half behind a lens and a set-up scenario.
Image by Alex Wong via Unsplash.