Bet you couldn’t avoid “Best Of” lists last month as the year came to a close. Professional critics, influencers, and amateur bloggers alike love to get in on it, giving their seals of approval to a wide swath of items such as books, movies, sports highlights, gifts for hard-to-please Aunt Edna, sex toys (maybe Aunt Edna would like one of those?!) and just about everything in between. Words are no exception.
The dictionary/thesaurus experts at Merriam-Webster pegged “authentic” as their Word of The Year for 2023. MW admits on their website that “although clearly a desirable quality, authentic is hard to define and subject to debate…”
This got me thinking. In my line of work, I often hear the word “authentic” used in conversations about online dating. So, I hit the streets in search of answers (okay, I texted some people) and here are some highlights from our conversations:
- “When I think of the word “authenticity,” I think of people who act on dating apps like they’re not trying to appeal to as many people as possible, meaning the way they answer prompts or pictures they choose feel unique and give the impression that they thought they looked cute or funny in them. Not that they’re what stereotypically looks the best.”
- “Authenticity on dating apps mostly has to do with safety – like, does this profile look authentic and does this person look real/normal? But I do totally swipe/occasionally message with people though I have no intention of actually seeing, which is definitely inauthentic of me…”
- “Some people feel the need to wait a full day or more to respond to a text to not come across too eager and don’t want to be the first person to text for the same reason. It is also usually pretty easy to tell when someone is following these “norms”. I think it is authentic and comes across well when someone talks to me when they want to because they want to!”
- “The first thing that comes to mind when I think of authenticity is sense of humor. I find myself more inclined to swipe on people’s profiles who include jokes and witty remarks as prompt answers or in their bios. When someone’s profile doesn’t show personality at all, it comes across as if they’re trying to craft the perfect image of themselves as a person which isn’t real.”
- “I’m more inclined to swipe on someone if they’re posting photos/prompts that seem representative of them. I also find someone more authentic if they list their political affiliation/religion as those are things that are important to me so I can see if we have similar values. Lastly, if their photos look like they’re from 5+ years ago (i.e. you can tell it’s a high school football game photo) I won’t swipe because I know it’s not an accurate representation of who they are now.”
Based on my tiny sample, “authentic” is definitely a hard word to pin down. It seems most people prioritize the quality (according to their own unique definition) in a potential partner. What does it mean to you? Do you find that authenticity exists on dating apps? Is being authentic important to you?