Sincerity and Authenticity; Social Media

Lionel Trilling’s book, based on lectures he gave at Harvard University, is titled Truth and Authenticity. He claimed that western civilization had developed from concepts of morality known as sincerity to a formulation of morality known as authenticity, which was embraced and esteemed in the modern period. Authenticity can be described as staying true to oneself even if it means sacrificing social connections. Sincerity, on the other hand, is concerned with making bonds with other individuals, even though it means putting oneself in harm’s way. In today’s culture, there is a great deal of honesty. People pretend to be who they are not just to save face or be looked at in different light. The paper shall look into the social media and how it fosters both sincerity and authenticity.

Social media can be thought of as the heartbeat of today’s civilization, which might be quite good given certain guidelines and conditions. Whereas social media will never replace real life and its relationship, it ought to reflect some aspects of real life at least; however, this is often not the case. Social media is a world-shattering innovation that allows people to share their lives with their friends (Salisbury and Jefferson 15). Being a public platform, a lot of users tend to project a fake, fancy lifestyle, social media has led to a lot of people lacking authenticity and only sharing what they feel that their friends or social circles will like.

The problem with social media sites is that it has given people the opportunity to hide behind the screens and allow others to judge them for the lives they want them to think they have, that is, those lives that they depict online. It is difficult for a person to post a photo of themselves when they think it is not attractive enough. In other cases, people post pictures of activities with their friends which others do not necessarily have to know (Raymer 8). It seems society has gotten sold to this high luxurious life and beautiful things that people have lost authenticity and they post and share what people want to see or what attract others. There is a lot of sincerity in social media where people want to depict this false luxurious lifestyle at the expense of their true self.

People post pictures of themselves doing great things such as traveling, doing sports and having fun activities. They always filter and airbrush their photos. Interestingly, in the modern culture, such photos attract more shares and likes compared to the normal one. A person posting photo doing farm work, for instance, will not attract any attention whereas one attending a party or an event will be highly complimented. In fact, many people have started the habit of always taking photographs in the airports, trying to project this fancy life that they always travel by planes, however rarely do they post pictures alighting at their destination. Therefore, it seems the society has projected this image that those who travel around the world often and more so by airplanes are living a good life and therefore they are admired. The rest of the world, therefore, pretends to fit into this falsehood.

The mainstream media and celebrities are also to blame for this trend. Celebrities in social media depict this lavish life that people end up wanting to emulate it. People, therefore, want to show their friends and their social circles that they also lead such an opulent life even if it is not so. Majority of celebrities use a lot of makeup and airbrush their photos, therefore because of this perfection, normal people want to be like them. In fact, when famous people particularly females share real-life photos going about their normal activities, they are always slammed (Raymer 10). To people, sharing a makeup-free face and showing those imperfections that every human being seems to be crime. Celebrities are deemed or ought to be perfect. The culture and society, therefore, is to blame for this lack of authenticity in life. In fact renowned socialite, Kim Kardashian, not long ago, accidentally shared photos clad in bikini which showed a lot of cellulite. Well, this is normal for every female out there; however she was highly criticized for it and in fact, even lost some of her followers on Instagram because of those photos. If celebrities are not spared in this portrayal of a perfect life, then certainly not the normal people.

In the society, people with good life and have everything together tend to command a lot of respect and admiration. Society, therefore, forces people to attempt to live up to such a standard. A person seen rescuing a dog will get fewer complements than the counterpart who is skydiving or scuba diving. Social media allows people to escape from the realities of life (Raymer 11). It is only the family and friends who know one’s close life. Female users with a beautiful airbrushed picture will probably get attention from men rather than those with their real photo. People on social media, want to prove something to the people that even though their real lives may not be as interesting, and their friends do not need to know, therefore they have to create something cool online instead. A person might have been crying the whole night or had a bad day in the office, however, he or she posts a happy status and no one knows their problems, after all, who want to hear about other people’s problems.

Social media users and society as well expect people to be secure and confident in themselves, however, in reality most people are not. There is a notion that if other individuals look positively at that false lifestyles and think that they have a great life, and then may social media users can. Social media distorts the perception of reality. Meeting people physically away from the screen can be a huge shocker. One wonders why people have to go through all that trouble? The answer is that it is the society that has distorted the reality of life (Raymer 14). People with money are often highly esteemed and often get the finest things in life, therefore, social media users try to emulate and fake that lifestyle.

What people fail to know is that there so much to each person’s story. What makes people successful or happy are not the achievements, and social media- worthy moments, it is all the moments in between including the bad ones and the struggles. It is good to note that some do not share their real stories, thoughts or struggles because they fear harsh judgment (Salisbury and Jefferson 17). How humans navigate through the challenges and overcome hurdles play a crucial role in personal growth and belittling it by not sharing with others who might be going through the same is wrong.

An authentic life, on the other hand, allows people to share their real life. They share their real self without any filters, their struggles, their pains as well as difficulties. No one in life has a smooth life no matter what, at some point in life people are faced with issues no matter how minute they are, at least there is a challenge they will have to encounter. Therefore these people, portraying such as fancy smooth life are lying (Salisbury and Jefferson 15). Even the rich also cry, they might have all the money in the world, which they will display in social media in the form of yacht, luxurious cars, exotic vacations, but might be battling terminal illness will money can cure. It is, therefore, crucial to share all the mess, the pain and the joys in social media, not just the filtered good life.

The most significant quality that social media users must take from their real life to their online platform is authenticity. According to Muse Magazine, this is what people crave at times; even though they might not admit. People want to know that others are going through the same pain they are going through, or they went through it and overcame. Authenticity is being real and raw; it is about the obstacles, difficulties, happiness, and joys of life (Churchill). Authenticity is all about being true to oneself.

Humans are wired to desire for authenticity; however, social media has a bad rap, but that can be changed if individuals are willing to step up and be true to themselves. It is time they all become honest and share the good, the bad and the ugly. Authenticity is very crucial as it creates a perfect setting for people to share their experiences freely (Trilling 35). The society, however, needs to foster this honesty and realness rather than glorifying the false luxurious lifestyle. Leading an authentic life helps people in becoming approachable. When a person is true to themselves, others are very comfortable approaching them with their issues. Authenticity opens doors for others to share their experiences.

Authentic life helps in creating a safe place. Majority of the people particularly the young people use social media to look for a place to fit in. Some retreat to social media since they do not have much in their real life. When people decide to be real and humble within their online community, they cultivate a safe place for others. There are individuals who are really going through hard times and really need a real person to share with (Churchill). There is no way someone struggling financially, for instance, can be comfortable seeking advice from someone falsifying a life of opulence, they might not feel as if they will not understand them. Such problems might lead to people to depression particularly when they feel they are alone. Being authentic therefore goes a long in helping others. One does not even need to talk to someone, but by just seeing that they are not alone in their troubles, gives them the strength and the hope to press on.

Authenticity as opposed to sincerity foster personal growth. It also helps in building trust. People and society like people they can trust. Attempting to portray a false lifestyle causes people to question everything in that person’s life. It should be clear that authenticity is not just about showcasing the bad things in life but rather showing everything that happens that is the good, the bad and the ugly (Churchill). It is all about showcasing everything from struggles to achievements. This is what the society ought to encourage, no one on this planet has a perfect life.


All people have problems though varied. One’s struggle might be another person’s desire. For instance, a rich family might have so much money that it begins to wreck their lives, while another person desires that money even just a dollar to make a livelihood. Another one is struggling with obesity whereas the other is battling anorexia and desires to gain a few kilos. The implication of sincerity is that people pretend and desire things that are not within their means. They, therefore, lead a miserable trying to depict a luxurious life in an effort to please their online community. Social media has negatively affected the self-esteem and confidence of many individuals. Models displaying perfect bodies or airbrushed photos really make others especially teens feel they are not beautiful enough.

The society often then to encourage sincerity but it should not especially unattainable standards of living, for instance, beauty standards. In an advertisement, for instance, both dark skinned and light skinned ladies should be incorporated same a plus size models. Social media users ought to foster openness and honesty and allow people to be themselves. This goes a long way in ensuring a real authentic society that accommodates all people from all walks of life.

Works Cited

“The Importance of Being Authentic On Social Media.” Muse Magazine, 2017, Web. 11 Dec. 2017

Churchill, Zena. “Why Authenticity On Social Media Is Important… For Everyone.” Max & Buddy Consulting, 2015, Web. 11 Dec. 2017

Raymer, Kristine. “The effects of social media sites on self-esteem.” (2015).

Salisbury, Meredith, and Jefferson D. Pooley. “The# nofilter Self: The Contest for Authenticity among Social Networking Sites, 2002–2016.” Social Sciences 6.1 (2017): 10.

Trilling, Lionel. Sincerity and authenticity. Harvard University Press, 2009.

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