OPINION: Language>Authentic v. Interesting


September 4, 2017

au·then·tic; adjective 1. of undisputed origin; genuine.


In today’s Washington Post, there’s a headline that reads, ‘4 Trends Shaking Up the Conference Industry.‘ The subhead reads, ‘Meeting planners are looking for new ways to engage attendees with unique, authentic experiences

When this headline or subhead is clicked, the reader is led to a sponsored article, paid for by Hilton Hotels. The article profiles new trends in the planning and production of corporate events and meetings and highlights new strategies being used by corporate shepherds to corral herds of their employees in an unfamiliar environment without turning them into plastic-name-badge-wearing zombies.

The new ideas these corporate planners are devising sound fun, and I’m all for new, fun ideas! But I have a problem with the use of the word ‘authentic’ to describe their efforts.

Everything is authentic, just as everything is natural. In fact, everything is all-natural! Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you, but whatever it is, it’s all-natural. Gasoline, tinfoil, plastic and nuclear and human waste are all natural. However, if you begin having your groceries delivered to your home in a beam of light originating from planet Zortron in the ninth dimension of the galaxy known as Immersol-44k/72-9, then we can talk about things that may not be “natural.” But until then, let’s stay on topic.

The meetings and events corporate employees have been attending for decades were always authentic, and they still are. They happened. They’re still happening. You may be reading this right now while sitting in one, and I’m quite certain you would agree with me that you’re as authentic as the carpeted floor your feet are resting upon. Corporate conferences were always authentic; what thousands of them probably were not was interesting.