Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2023-12-01T13:50:43Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com December 1. http://ranprieur.com/#fe0a45e7f48dc124f5a19de85a7f5df81e27653e 2023-12-01T13:50:43Z December 1. Merriam-Webster's 2023 word of the year is authentic, and at the top of that article is who else, Taylor Swift, the world's most authenticity-deprived person. I'm sure, if you really know her, she's as authentic as anyone -- because authenticity is everywhere. The problem is not source but distribution.

Or, authenticity is not a thing but a relationship, in which both parties have to do work: the perceived must let go of what other people expect, and the perceiver must integrate the unexpected. The perceived lets down a filter and the perceiver adjusts one. This is hard, and the bigger the crowd, the harder it is -- especially if professional media get involved, because they profit by making the content more easily digestible. At the highest level of fame, the only way to pass the filter is to be completely unsurprising, or to do something wrong.

The opposite of authenticity is bullshit, a.k.a. propaganda. Not only is this different from misinformation, they're sort of opposites. Any source with a tight filter against weirdness, is also likely to have a tight filter against factual incorrectness. So CNN is high in bullshit and low in misinformation, while some websites are low in bullshit and high in misinformation. Misinformation spoofs authenticity, merely by being different than the information provided by propaganda. When people are so hungry for authenticity that they embrace misinformation, I wonder if they're looking at screens too much, and they need to go outside and look at trees.

By the way, the kind of bullshit I notice most is in emotional reactions, and you can see this both on the news and in fiction. In the very first episode of Succession, when the kids all think their mean billionaire father is about to die, they don't shed a tear but get straight to scheming. In season four, when he finally dies, their reactions are Hollywood boilerplate. On IMDB, it's the highest rated episode.

Also by the way, I've tried to listen to Taylor Swift, and I find her music impressively uninteresting. I've heard that when Jimi Hendrix was living in London, he would go see bands every night, and he could learn something from the worst band in the world. What I haven't heard, but I'm sure it's true, is that you can learn more from an amateur band, than a polished successful band. Human perception contains two opposite motives, one for surprise, and one for recognition, and Taylor Swift has taken recognition to a new level of purity.