Self-absorption, self-indulgence, deficient empathic skills are among the symptoms of narcissism syndrome, and many of these can be seen on a regular basis in our newsfeeds, newspapers, or on TV. During the past decade, social media have taken us into uncharted territories of egotistic adulation by enabling everyone to broadcast his or her life and be the star of his or her own 24-hour show: consumers have become both actors and consumable products at once. In our contemporary thinking, authenticity as a virtue is seen as referring to a way of acting that is meaningful in itself and independent of context or consequence to others, suggesting that it doesn’t matter what others think as long as you are true to yourself.
The ideal of authenticity as acting according to your own inner feelings and attitudes breeds self-centred obsession. At the same time, individuals have become more and more anonymous and isolated, thus more anxious about who they are. An anxiety heightened by the multiple possibilities available. This feeds into a never-ending cycle of enthusiasm, appropriation, imitation and exhaustion and leads to an obsession with style that ends in conspicuous consumption among people anxious to objectify their self-identities as authentic individuals who stand out from the masses. Is this new ‘craving’ for ‘the authentic’ just a reflection of the narcissistic tendencies of contemporary society?