In the run-up to Thanksgiving, I was in the grocery store shopping for string oils, when I found the coconut oil. I had to choose, from memory, between the filtered and unfiltered oil. I chose the filtered, based on price. Filtered was $5, Unfiltered was $7.
So the oil that took the most effort cost the least, indicating it was less desired, than the stuff with chunks of coconut and even coir in the oil. This was odd. Filtering would also remove volume, making it rarer than the unfiltered per coconut used.
This is the premium we will pay for authenticity: reality over artifice.
There is a notion in the United States that the old ways are best, and the new ways are cheap and debased. You just need the image of nostalgia to sell a new thing with the imprimatur of the old ways. If a PT Cruiser has a sticker of woodgrain on it, it will sell better than the same color without the sticker. Entire brands, like Louis Vuitton, Kiehl’s, Ralph Lauren or BMW, rely on the stolidity of tradition to hawk their new stuff. And people buy it. It is easier for the bury to rely on the proven than beware of each new transaction.
Authenticity is, of course, correct. If something has lasted a century, then surely it must be better than its contemporaries that are 30 feet down in the junkyard by now. But authenticity is used to sell things that are no different than every other new product, just with an “authentic finish”
Authenticity of experience is a different sort, but equally useful. Here, people demand and pay to have intimate experiences of mass market goods. The adulation of Selena Gomez at yesterday’s halftime show was an example. To be close to a celebrity is an ecstatic experience of authenticity. Here is a person who is foisted upon you like a social contract is standing right next to you. The authentic reality of them, even of they are doing their job (singing, politicking, or acting) is enough to project an aura of unreality on the crowd.
I don’t trust authenticity, but I understand it’s compulsion. It is the opposite of convenience and and accessibility. It is a pain in the ass. In many cases, it works worse, not better. They recently released a limited edition batch of whiskey done with George Washington’s recipe, on a replica of his still, using heirloom crops farmed on lands that he used to own. Hideously expensive, and by all accounts tastes just awful. No one values an authentic computer running Windows 95 or System 7 for long.
I’m not even sure I trust this post, but I must stay reliable and authentic to its craft. Monday, I’ll talk a bit about data, and whose business it is anyway..