On Authenticity

I am a podcast connoisseur. I listen to more podcasts than I read books and, not to brag, was in the 97th percentile for podcast listeners on Spotify in 2021. There’s a different topic here about expertise and what it means to be an expert but, for this post, this working definition will suffice: A person is an expert in an area if that person consumes information and thinks about a said area more than any other individual. Given the credentials provided earlier, I am some expert in podcast listening, however specific the niche. This has given me a perspective on authenticity in podcast guests more narrowly, and authenticity more broadly.

One observation about authentic people that is hard to miss is that authenticity is a valid goal in their minds. In other words, they actively aspire to be authentic in whatever domain they choose and take active steps to be so. Those that try to be authentic become authentic. Another observation about authentic individuals is the wealth of context that they have and bring to bear on a specific topic. For example, many observations I might have made as a teenager that would have sounded idiotic now make more sense because of the amount of context I have acquired over the years. This point indicates that even though, as individuals, we are slaves to our perspectives, these perspectives can be enriched by investing in context building.

As authenticity is a slave to perspective, it is a product of one’s background. This podcast with Agnes Callard on the Bad Christian podcast is a master class on authenticity. The authentic nature of this conversation showed up in perspectives, obviously, but also in how respect was paid. We see this in the hosts’ respect for Agnes’ sheer intellectual and philosophical horsepower in the most friendly and humble types of ways. The other is Agnes’ respect for hosts’ craft. It is the same kind of enjoyment one derives from watching a comic talk to an intellectual with a great temperament. It is exciting and very wholesome for all the right reasons.

Overall, authenticity requires a worldview informed by one’s background or training in an area. In almost all cases, one’s authenticity only shows when they have the right interlocutor. Thus, authenticity is a set of outcomes that can only be accessed with the right individuals.

Certainty Rating: 71%


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