Don't look now, but authenticity has a target on its back (and it's not the first time either). Those practitioners in the user experience, marketing and customer experience domains at the forefront of their craft have moved on and they're not sitting around waiting for you to catch up.

Every ethic and virtue has their days in the sun. Despite the wholesome goodness in any virtue, however, those days are finite and numbered. I don’t mean that the virtue will disappear entirely. I do mean that the virtue will recede from the limelight as society becomes conscious to the flaws in the virtue as another ethic that speaks to those flaws steps forward. As nothing in our universe is perfect, this goes on ad-infinitum and quite often circles back on itself. This is the cycle of virtues and we are all witnessing the waning days of authenticity.

What's Old is New Again

Did you know that authenticity had a heyday previous to now? The golden age of authenticity was Victorian England and authenticity went by the name “Earnest.” Earnestness was the thing that all people and organizations strove for until a satirical Irish playwright and author named Oscar Wilde stuck a pin in the oversized ego of the British society persona with a timeless classic -- “The Importance of Being Earnest"

There are many themes inside this classic play, the foremost of which is the dualistic nature of the human condition. All humans and organizations have multiple facets to their identities and the act of living is a navigation to, from and in between them. Veering from one principle to another is inevitable as a growing organism. What Wilde was saying in his work is that complete authenticity is a fraudulent sham that demeans humanity in general and more specifically harms minorities who are often oppressed by a majority who criticizes them for a supposed weakness that they themselves possess.

The Importance of Being Irreverent 

This idea of complete authenticity is a sham was also noted by Harry Frankfurt, professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University in his 1986 masterpiece On Bullshit, where he eviscerates the very notion of pure authenticity within humans with the conclusion: