We make a huge stink about being authentic, and requiring authenticity from our communities, our workplaces, our leadership. But we are the most inauthentic generation on the planet.
Think about it: we won't make a phone call to save our lives. Why? Because we can't curate our content and image over the phone. It's us and the person on the other line, the naked reality of what it means to be human and thinking and brainstorming on the fly. The risk of failure or sounding stupid or vulnerable is high. So we avoid authentic real-life conversation and resort to texting and social media to get our point across.
About that social media. While it's hyped to be a wonderful community of people sharing their lives together, let's be real. It's the most inauthentic place ever. Between filters on Instagram and selfies and self-gratifying Facebook posts, or ten-second videos on Twitter or Vine, social media is inherently designed to let people project the image of themselves that they want others to see, not life as it actually exists. If you're a Millennial, be honest with yourself: most of our young lifestyle right now is a fear and insecurity-driven rat-race to compete with what we think we see in others and what we want to see in ourselves.
I guess I'm writing this post because I've started to feel dirty: I can no longer sit with older leaders who give me the benefit of the doubt to learn and grow as a Millennial, while beating a hollow drum about my generation's desire for authenticity and inferring their lack of it. While fully knowing that this is the greatest hypocrisy of my generation.
So Millennials, I'm speaking to us now. I'm not saying stop taking the selfies, getting on social media, or to make only phone calls. All of these are vices and devices of our generation that we will have to individually overcome or harness. But while we're doing that, let's stop with this authenticity kick ad nauseum and exiting communities, relationships, and organizations because of it. Why? Because if we're honest for once, we'll realize we all struggle with being authentic one way or another. Let's stop being proud of our so-called "authenticity meter" and start realizing that it's just become a popular excuse to stop taking the responsibility of being active participants.
The greatest inauthenticity is asking something of someone that we're not prepared or willing to give ourselves. If we really care and our authenticity-meter is for real, let's start turning it on ourselves first.