A recent article in USAToday about fake accents said, “…faking an accent can be considered cool, not unauthentic…”
How can anything fake be considered “not unauthentic”?
Our culture considers to butcher words and concepts for convenience. Katie Couric said moving outside one’s comfort zone “almost always makes you uncomfortable.” Another butchered concept, only it got airtime on national television. Moving outside your comfort zone, by definition, means you’ll be uncomfortable.
Granting that Ms. Couric was just sloppy in her choice of words, let’s return to “fake” becoming a form of “authentic.”
In a world where Second Life is a popular online virtual reality–you can be anyone you choose to be–why wouldn’t we start rearranging the meaning of words and concepts?
And if we do, what’s the harm?
To have value, words must have fixed and shared meaning. While the definition of words can and do change over time, we’ve never accepted individual capriciousness as a valid reason for change.
Bill Clinton was the first public example of redefinition I can recall. Suddenly “oral sex” stopped being “sex.”
Underneath authenticity under attack is the problem of relativism. Why use an external and absolute standard when you can create your own? It isn’t just that people can’t agree on an absolute external standard, it’s that they don’t want to. It is inconvenient to answer to a higher purpose, principle or power.
The result: authentic fakes, or fake authenticity. Sometimes comfortable discomfort. Things that no longer belong to the category they came from.
And an overall demise of the ability to communicate and live with clarity.