The Commercialization of Authenticity

Ahem. Allow me to step on my soapbox for a moment.

What I present to you today is not new information. It’s not unknown, or not talked about. I think the awareness of this phenomenon – the commercialization of authenticity – is there, but, as someone who participates in this culture, I have some conflicting internal dialogue and I want to talk about it.

What is happening in our world is good. We are coming to a place where we realize that technology needs to serve us; that we need to enhance our communication and our shared humanity. IE the blog title: Amy is a human. Yes, it’s a joke, but it’s also a purposeful statement about remembering our nature on this planet, remembering our mortality, remembering to serve a higher purpose daily and not whittle away our time frivolously.

As a full time yoga teacher, I have necessarily embraced this former counter-culture, now pop culture, phenomenon. Be authentic. Be you. Engage meaningfully. Let your technological devices serve you rather than distract you. I think these messages are important and needed regularly.

However, we are attaching goods and services and products to these messages. When your message acts as a sales pitch, or connects you to a product, we are abusing the need for meaningful dialogue. We are abusing the knowledge that our culture greatly – desperately – needs connection. Technology has served to disconnect us; yes, we are connected via text and social media, but true connection – true vulnerability – is almost obsolete. When you can carefully select the selfie you’d like to post with an equally time-consuming quote to go along with it, you are talking about authenticity, but doing the opposite. It is contrived, and laced with marketing and sales intentions, regardless of whether or not your services or sales are mentioned in the subtext of the photo.

And I am not talking just about yoga here. I am talking about anyone who works in the “create your best self” industry – coaches, writers, etc.

And let me be the first to say – before you go ahead and tell me I’m shameful – that I actively participate in this culture. Yes, I have posted photos taken explicitly with the intention of posting them with equally contrived quotes. Yes, I link to my website which has services posted. Yes, somedays it feels fine – like I am just participating in the culture – and other days it feels creepy.

I do not think that, singularly, these are bad things. But I do think we need to be aware of our intentions and how we use our social media marketing. If we offer products or services – yes, you should market them, and yes, you deserve to be paid for them – but truly, authentically get to know your clientele. Allow your goods or services to speak for themselves. Be really really good at what you do, and you’ll need less marketing. Others will market for you.

Overindulgence in this kind of marketing leads to exploitation of others in their weakest areas. When we are starved as a culture for authentic connection, we need as many healers as possible in this area – but please don’t abuse the desperation by exploiting your clients or your followers by overcharging for your services or not delivering meaningful connection. Be actually authentic, not just marketed authentic.

Ahem. Now, allow me to leave my soapbox and return to daily activities. May your day be filled with real situations and connection, and free of social media marketing overload.

Love love love to you.


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