Fake Authenticity

My blog header is a picture I took while in Houston for a speaking engagement. It’s near a hotel in a part of town that looks like it was all built ten minutes ago. There was a town square, just a few years old, but made to look like it had been there awhile. All the buildings were artificially “retro”, but they were new.

It reminded me of an article in a short-lived magazine named HERMENAUT. The magazine did a series entitled “Fake Authenticity”. It talked about ways organizations and businesses try to appear as something other than they are. I really love this trend when it is done well. I love new books that are designed to look like aged tomes that have shown lots of wear. You get that “used” look, but without the weak bindings and yellowed pages, nice.

There’s nothing wrong with books and buildings made to look like something other than what they are. There is a problem when people try to present themselves as something other than what they are, in order to deceive or profit from others. Certainly nothing wrong with profit, we all have to make money to survive and thrive. At the same time, countless relationships have been hurt, trust has been destroyed, when people can’t count on us being who we say we are.

In life, in business, in relationships, we can be our best selves, but we must be ourselves. When we make commitments, let’s keep them. When we say we’ll do something, let’s do it. Fake authenticity? Fine and fun for buildings, books, and other stuff, not so fine for people.

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