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Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Essay by lee Tomlin 2007

My Argument on an Authentic Life, Does it Make you Happy ?

An inauthentic life leads to misery. Without a little bit of authenticity we are not being our true selves. This paper will look at the argument of authenticity and why an inauthentic life is popular in today’s society.

I will discuss my position on the topic and also the influences of philosophers such as Martin Heidegger and Jean Paul Sartre as well as social commentator Dr Karen Brooks.

Authenticity can be viewed in different ways, for example, jazz for Sartre was a representation of authenticity and freedom, whereas for Theodore Adorno it was a false representation of authenticity as to him it was just as concerned with appearance and audience as any other form of entertainment. Heidegger saw technology as an inauthentic object distorting the relationship between authenticity and the natural world. From these different views it is easy to see that authenticity means different things to different people.

Values are not consistent among a group of people everyone has different interpretations of things.

Authenticity means to live your life according to the needs of your inner being, rather than the demands of society or your upbringing.

Women today often struggle with an inner fight, to be authentic, or to be seen and noticed, Reid & Bray (2005, p4) speak of ‘body police’ “They have an arsenal of weapons. If you break the Body Police law by not being beautiful enough, or popular enough, they will come down hard”. This would suggest that particularly women and girls may have to fight to be authentic.

"Advertising in modern Western culture can be seen to distort a person’s desires and therefore their authenticity. When we see an advert, it changes our desires in the sense that we become aware of something that never before existed in our minds. As adverts become more enticing and pull at our emotions, we develop desires for these new products. They suggest that without them we may become socially unacceptable or even unhappy and so psychologically we feel inclined to buy the product". Dyer (1988) Advertising as Communication

Many people argue that advertising takes away funds from necessary things, such as healthcare and turns us in to materialistic beings. If this is so then advertising affects our authenticity as we are encouraged to conform to what other people are doing.

An inauthentic life consists of conformity and not listening to the needs of your inner being. There are so many pressures within society that if you let them affect you, you are not living authentically.

During World War Two when Hitler was dictator of Germany no one had the choice to live authentically, it was conform or be killed. During this time the majority of people did something which they most likely regretted although many chose not to take responsibility.

Because they were following orders many people were in denial that they were responsible for their actions but we always have a choice, to say you do not have a choice is to say you are inauthentic; this ultimately leads to misery as you feel as though you have no choice in anything.

In today’s society ‘faking it’ is looking to be a big problem- we fake our hair, our faces, our clothes even our personalities it makes me think authenticity could be coming into a new era of complexity, something we need to look at on a different level, for example, in the area of Psychology, looking at self-actualisation.

As so many new labels are developed such as the bimbo, the ‘emo’, the popular girl/guy, the loner, we move away from the needs of our inner being (losing touch with ourselves), in order to pursue one of these social labels.

Labels may have always existed but not to the extent of today, Social Commentator Dr Karen Brooks believes that “pop culture now gives them [girls] a blueprint to follow – through TV and the internet – they don’t set their own boundaries”. If this is the case, we could be seeing people no longer living their lives authentically in any way at all. Faking it is not always viewed in a negative sense but rather seen as trying to become a more ideal version of ourselves, but then we are no longer authentic because we are unwilling to accept who we truly are. Brooks (2010) suggests that faking it means that you take the possibility of being happy away from yourself; this could be because she is suggesting that to not be authentic is to not be real. It could be said an authentic person and a fake (or inauthentic) person are opposites, one is true to themselves and their inner being and the other is in denial or unaware of who they are.


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