My excellent friend Dina Kaplan wrote an article entitled “Why Iโ€™m Over Authenticity: The Intersection of Honesty and Empathy”.

You would have to know more about Dina to appreciate the article the way I do, such as watching this presentation she gave:

Even without background information, the article by itself stands alone and most likely speaks for a lot of people who experienced the same types of things she did.

I’m now going to be as authentic as I can / want to be about some of the sections of her article.

[NOTE: This is my third version of this article, hahaha]

We’ll go with Dina’s comments in bold italics:

“Some people are naturally authentic.

I am not.

When I was a kid, I was bullied at summer camp. It was rough, and at ten years old I made a vow to myself, to never be the reject again.”

I grew up the opposite way. I was always popular, and I always had lots of friends who were, let’s say.. bullying deterrents. ๐Ÿ˜€

So I was incredibly over-authentic! ๐Ÿ˜€

If you were a great person, I wanted to hear all about it. If you weren’t, I didn’t want you around at all.

Had I had a feeling that I needed to make friends or that I needed to feel protected by people who didn’t naturally want to protect me like I wanted to protect them, I may have come to the same conclusion Dina did.

The value of my authenticity was that if I told you something, you knew I believed that it was true.

The problem with that is that the truth hurts when it’s something you don’t want to hear or believe about yourself.

So Yes.. At that time, myriad feelings got hurt and that wasn’t my problem because it was the truth of their own lives that was making them sad.

“I decided to hone my social skills so finely I would be popular for the rest of my life. Rather than saying what was on my mind, I trained myself to guess what people wanted to hear from me. So I could say the right thing and be liked.

This became my pattern, woven deeply into the fabric of my personality.”

I tried this technique at some point.

I wasn’t guessing what people wanted to hear. I was utilizing my database of what caused people negative emotions to *NOT* say several things that I was thinking.

So if a chick would have asked me the proverbial “Do I look fat in this dress?”, I wouldn’t have responded “You’re 5″2′ and 180 pounds. What do you expect to look like?”

The upside of this was that I gained a lot more random friends.

The downside of this was that these were some of the most mediocre and incompatible people I ever met in my life.

One of the things about being who you really are.. Assuming you’re a very interesting person like I am.. Is that people are going to form strong opinions about you when you’re being authentic with them.

They’re either going to love you, hate you, or ignore you.

The friends I had before I feigned mediocrity either enjoyed or tolerated my personality.

When I acted like I was some random nobody with no individual thoughts of my own, I was accepted into the clique of random nobodies, which at the proverbial end of the day was a waste of my time other than finding out that I didn’t feel like being down with that crew.

Extreme People vibe with other Extreme People because we recognize each other as outside of the box, even though we might not be on the same side of the outside of the box.

Even if we think the other person is crazy or completely wrong, we can respect that what we’re getting from them is *EXACTLY* how they really see life = Authenticity.

I have friends who really REALLY *REALLY* hope that Trump gets elected and who honestly believe that RaHoWa is coming.

I don’t gasp and block these people on Facebook. ๐Ÿ˜€ I appreciate their authenticity that they would share their opinions about that with me, and I strive to bring value to our discussions.

There are lots of people who feel the exact same way but would never say so because they’re hiding in the same way Dina decided to at 10 years old.

I don’t begrudge them that because everything we think isn’t everybody’s business. There’s no reason for someone to be 100% authentic all the time. Sometimes it’s better when you disagree with someone to just stay quiet and go about your business than to start an argument.

Anyway… I only started RAWKIN’ again when I gave that concept up and said **** the people who don’t like the show because they can change the channel.

As soon as I returned to my usual shenanigans, I started making better, worthwhile friends again.

“This thought was crystallized at dinner with a new friend. It was a guy in the spiritual community, a healer interested in working with my company The Path. He asked to get together and offered free treatments during the day. But I generally work until dusk, then enjoy social time and culture in the evening.

So I invited him to join a film screening one evening. He said yes, and after we went to dinner.

Amidst sushi, seltzer and a relaxed chat about his background, he suddenly he leaned towards me and looked directly into my eyes. On instinct, I leaned back.

‘Are you deeply attracted to me?’ he asked.

‘What?’ I asked, shocked and not sure if he was joking.

‘Iโ€™m reading your energy right now as being really into me. And I noticed that each time I try to offer you a healing treatment, you try to turn it into a date.’

Inching my chair away, I explained that I work during the day, then socialize in the evening. This conversation, I said, felt a bit aggressive.

I had wanted to relax with a new friend, but I now felt guarded, watching my words.”

First of all, that technique is right out of the Dating 101 handbook. *yawn*

Women in general don’t like to take responsibility for their personal sexual attractions.

It’s because they were trained from birth that “Good Girls Don’t”, and for some odd reason, you end up with 20- 30- and 40-year old women still trying to be “Good Girls” when they’ve been married a couple of times, had 3 or 4 kids, and already got screwed a million times, many of those on the first date.

It’s really strange. ๐Ÿ˜€ Good brainwashing.

So accusing a woman of being attracted to you allows you to find out if she’d give you some without her being able to accuse you of WANTING her to give you some.

101. Basic.

Another basic dating tactic is to suggest a business meeting with a chick you’d like to get on.

Worst case scenario, nothing happens. Best case scenario, you bag the chick *AND* you get her business, but the bagging part is way more important.

Again.. Basic.

And then there’s this, from later in Dina’s article:

“Two years ago I published an article about why I donโ€™t lie. I still believe in this. But itโ€™s not enough. Honesty should be paired with empathy.”

So if this dude did *ANY* research on Dina at all, he read that article -> “Two Years To No Lies”

That means that this was a *DOUBLE* cheap shot at her because he asked her a question and expected her to prevent herself from lying about it.

In chess, this is called a fork. You have to give up something, and choose the lesser of the evils.

Being that this was dating and not chess (Yes, I know Dina thought it was a business meeting, but it wasn’t ๐Ÿ˜€ haha), there is a third option, which is to not respond at all.

In speed chess, your time would run out and you would lose the game if you refused to move.

So the way the guy forked Dina was that if she DID find him attractive, she had to answer his question in the affirmative OR she wouldn’t be able to write an article saying that she hasn’t told a lie in THREE years as a follow-up to her TWO year article.

However, since silence isn’t a lie, that plan didn’t work.

And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

“I stared at this guy, stunned. His words felt like fire. Almost mean. It was the opposite of gentle or compassionate. I felt like he was trying to shine a flashlight deep within me, searching for something to critique. A few weeks earlier he had asked about working together professionally, and the request was now swirling in my head.

In this moment I realized I donโ€™t want to surround myself with people who focus purely on authenticity. I want to surround myself with people who also value kindness.”

He wasn’t searching for something to critique. He was attempting to get laid. Period.

One of the downsides of Political Correctness is that a lot of women have lost their ability to detect Hunters.

Similarly, due to the fact that they created supermarkets and restaurants, I have *ZERO* ability to walk into the woods, hunt with a bow and arrow, and return with food for my family. None. Nothing. ๐Ÿ˜€

A lot of women are so used to guys pretending they don’t feel like ******* them that they can’t tell the difference between guys that aren’t physically attracted to them, guys that ARE physically attracted to them, and guys that aren’t attracted to women at all.

I’m not saying that has anything to do with Dina because I’ve never asked her that question haha ๐Ÿ˜€

I’m saying that these basic tactics are easy to run on chicks because they’re so used to guys not hitting on them.

====

As far as people focused purely on authenticity, that isn’t an arena for the faint of heart.

I personally require as much authenticity as a person is willing to offer because I don’t usually give a flying **** what they think anyway.

What people say is merely a fascination to me and never has any effect on my personal life.

People’s opinions add to my database of possibilities of what someone *might* be thinking or what their motivation might be.

So if a friend of mine tells me he believes a race war is coming, not only am I temporarily entertained, but I gain the knowledge that there are people stupid enough to believe that the US Government wouldn’t mobilize troops to eliminate all the participants.

There are some people still mentally living in the miner 49’er moonshine-running days, and it’s to my advantage to be aware of that, similar to how it’s to women’s advantage to be aware that just because a guy says he wants to do business with you doesn’t mean he won’t chuck that to lay you down.

So if you don’t want to know these things and you want to pretend that Political Correctness is real, it’s a good idea to avoid people who value authenticity over kindness.

Still… It’s important to not confuse Omission of Intent for kindness.

If the dude in Dina’s story would have tried to get on with a less obvious (to me) tactic, he might still have a hat in the ring.

According to the story, he went for the big gamble and lost.

This doesn’t indicate that the guys that haven’t gambled aren’t waiting for their opportunity.

In the aforementioned hypothetical, a kind response to “Do I look fat in this dress?” would be “Who cares? I hit it, didn’t I?”

“Knowing what you feel and want to say is an important first step. It took me years and a bungee jump to get there. But itโ€™s not enough. The second step is understanding whether, when and how to convey it.”

Both of these points are correct:

a) Knowing what’s real FOR YOU.

b) Deciding whether to tell someone else about your personal reality.

Originally, as I said above, I didn’t know any better than authenticity.

The concept of sparing a kid’s feelings by not telling the truth wasn’t “a thing”.

The reason why I quit being authentic was that I became aware of people’s mediocrity.

When you’re a kid, all you know is the way you were raised.

My mother was an educator.

I was basically educated from day 01, when other kids had to wait until preschool to be taught anything because their parents were incapable of educating them.

This means I had 5 years of education by the time I hit preschool.

I was reading on a 6th grade level in 2nd grade.

I have *zero* tolerance for illiterates to this day.

That isn’t a decision. I just plain detest uneducated people. There’s nothing I can do about that.

So the reason I was tough on a lot of kids is that I didn’t realize that I was raised under advanced circumstances.

As far as I knew, *EVERYBODY* was as educated as I was, so if they weren’t doing as well as I was, it was because they were slacking or being lazy, and I let them have it for that.

I stopped doing that when I realized that what I was actually doing was picking on mentally disadvantaged people.

Once I stopped expecting people to be as great as I am, I was no longer interested in pointing out my superiority to them.

I know people are bitching and moaning and crying right now, but try to understand what I’m saying. ๐Ÿ˜€

Every school I’ve ever gone to has been for elite kids. alum.MIT.edu/www/billcammack

When everyone you know is elite, that becomes the norm.

When everyone you know scored highly on the same IQ test to get into your elementary school, you respect everyone around you.

Once you’re ejected into the real world and you have to interact with people who didn’t grow up inside that elite system, you recognize the value you had of a) aligning yourself with, and b) fighting with elites.

At the end of the day, even if we physically fought with each other, we respected each other because we knew what it took to be where we were.

I’m friends on Facebook right now with kids I had physical fights with. ๐Ÿ˜€ haha As in we actually tried to physically damage each other and we put in as much work on each other as we could at the time.

That’s kids being kids. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t hate them for that. I appreciate them for hating me so much at the time (And I probably hated them too) that we got our Gladiator on! ๐Ÿ˜€

As the Jamaicans say.. “Nuff Respek!” ๐Ÿ˜€ haha

But when you exit that system realizing that most people are mentally disadvantaged compared to you, pointing out their disadvantages becomes a poison to you instead of a hype-up.

You’re no longer talking down about people who SHOULD be doing as well as you or better.

You recognize that they SHOULDN’T be doing better than you are and they AREN’T, so you want to just “leave them be”.

So the decision about whether to tell someone your personal perception of them is actually an important one.

If you can tell them something that will motivate them to do better for themselves, that’s great. ๐Ÿ™‚

Telling someone something that they aren’t going to be able to do anything about might not be the move.

For instance.. There are people who mentally self-medicate by blaming their current circumstances on things that happened 100 years ago.

You might not want to point out to those people that their family was perfectly successful until their parents became drug addicts.

Shifting the “blame” from several generations down to their own parents could be traumatic for them, although it’s the absolute truth and until they face that, they’ll never solve their own problems.

“A year ago I had dinner with two close friends. Each of us was going through a rough patch, and we sat together sharing our stories (mine involved something that had occurred the night before), crying and supporting each other.

On the way home, sharing a taxi with one of the friends, I mentioned that I missed hanging out as much as we had in the past. I asked if everything was ok. She proceeded to explain, with full authenticity, why she had pulled back from our friendship for a short time.

Normally I would have valued this feedback. I had recently given her a critique, at her request, and I value open communication. But on this night, already feeling fragile, I didnโ€™t have the bandwidth to process her words. Again I felt a harsh light shining into my darkest places. And like a spotlight in your eyes at night, it felt startling and scary. I donโ€™t blame her for sharing her feelings, since I had invited it, but it strengthened my belief that my values had changed.”

Again.. ๐Ÿ˜€ Full Authenticity is *NOT* the realm for the faint of heart.

If I were to ask somebody “How come this or that?”, I would expect them to be as authentic as they feel like being with me.

I had a chick tell me when she was sober that she didn’t want me to mess with her anymore.

The next time she was drunk around me, she was all over me.

Which chick was I supposed to respond to? Jekyll or Hyde?

However, it’s the most exciting game in town. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’re interested in excitement instead of mediocrity, Authenticity is the place to be.

If you just want to cruise through life with all people placating each other, avoid authenticity as much as you can.

“2. Second, do I want to share this? Will it help someone or hurt them? A core Buddhist principle is โ€œahimsa,โ€ which means not to injure another, to act with compassion.”

This is another good consideration.. Why are you speaking at all? o_O

If your goal in life is to always make people feel good, don’t answer whether she looks fat in that dress.

If your goal in life is to experience other people’s perceptions of reality, Authenticity is necessary.

“According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, you’re overweight, but I still taxed that ass like the government, so why are you concerned?”

If she looks fat in that dress, there’s a reason for it that she might want to address.

If she DOESN’T look fat in that dress, but she THINKS she does, there’s a reason for THAT that she might want to address.

She isn’t going to consider either course of action if you just lie to her and say “Nope.”

“3. Is this the right time? Is the person Iโ€™m speaking with ready and wanting to learn this information from me in this moment?”

I found this line interesting because sometimes you know better than another person when that person should start taking action on a situation.

Attempting to read someone else’s mind to determine whether you should tell them something vital to their welfare isn’t an efficient way to attempt life.

My favorite example of this is a chick I met at a bar who was sweating a friend of mine whom I already knew to be a piece of **** when it came to chicks.

I told her to her face that she didn’t want to mess with him.

Either she was too stupid to take my advice or she was sweating him too hard to care, but either way, she ended up getting pregnant… immediately… and when she ran into me in the street and asked me if I had seen him, I lied and told her “No” when I had seen him the day before and knew I was going to see him later that day, and she told me how when she told him she was pregnant, she suddenly wasn’t able to get in contact with him evAr again.

I took the inauthentic route of not telling her to her face “I told you not to **** with him, didn’t I?”

*I* had gone out of my way to look out for some chick I had never seen before in life, *and* I was in violation for cockblocking a friend, but I had seen that pattern before and decided that regardless of whether she was ready to hear it (I *KNOW* she didn’t *WANT* to hear it) or not, I was going to tell her.. Not for my own spiritual benefit, but for hers.

She didn’t take my advice and became the next statistic. C’est la vie.

“My friend Biet Simkin, a meditation leader, lives by โ€œradical kindness.โ€ Sometimes that means offering tough feedback, but only when she senses itโ€™s the right time. And sheโ€™ll always err on the side of kindness.”

Again, this is all well & good, but the person who lives this way has to live with the consequences of not saying what should have been said when it should have been said.

Taking my previous example.. If I would have known what was going on and NOT told the chick she was going to get pregnant and dumped like all the other chicks I saw that guy dump, when I ran into her again in the street, I would have felt *GUILTY* that I didn’t offer her the choice of not screwing him.

Since I offered her that choice, I felt perfectly fine when she told me he got her pregnant because my hands were clean.

I just refrained from telling her “So the exact thing I told you was going to happen to you happened to you, huh? ๐Ÿ˜€ .. How do you feel about yourself, now?”

So that’s the line you need to walk in life.

If the chick thinks she looks fat in the dress but it isn’t a health concern and you BS her that she doesn’t and she lives, that’s all well & good.

If her physical condition causes her to croak *after* you had the opportunity to tell her to start hitting the gym and consult a nutritionist, you’re going to have to live with that for the rest of your life.

“Be the lighthouse. Speak authentically but with awareness of how my words will affect someone else. I want to live at the intersection of authenticity and empathy. The Dalai Lama has said, โ€œMy religion is kindness,โ€ and I want to err on this side. Because authenticity is cool but compassion and kindnessโ€Šโ€”โ€Šare even cooler.”

In fact, there are three factors that intersect, not two:

1) Authenticity
2) Empathy
3) Insight

As I mentioned above.. If you feel you have insight on a person’s situation that they either don’t have access to or are actively blinding themselves to, your decision is to either tell them about what you think or live with the consequences of NOT telling them what you think.

I’ll assume the chick I mentioned above had the kid my friend got her pregnant with. I’ll assume that kid never met his father. I don’t care about any of that because I did the right thing by a chick I had no reason to do the right thing by, essentially betraying a friend of mine who was trying to get laid, and she still fell for the okey doke so she received what she deserves.

Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness are all lovely, so long as nothing important is at stake.

If the only reason you’re speaking to someone is because you’re passing the time of day and nothing you say is worth anything anyway, stick to drivel & banter.

That’s what I did while I was feigning mediocrity. I talked about what mediocre people wanted to talk about and never challenged or attempted to expand their worldviews.

Things were rather boring, but I made a ton of mediocre friends.

None of those people would have had anything to do with me if I would have told them what I really think about what they were saying, such as that it was entirely inconsequential.

I guess I’m just not the type of person to sit on the grass in Central Park with people talking about nothing and wasting time.

I’d much rather hear something from someone and think “I think that person’s a creep for saying that, but I respect them and appreciate them for sharing it with me.”

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2 Comments

  1. Bill, this is SO thoughtful and interesting, and you’re right about the three: authenticity, empathy and insight. I hear you on so much of this, especially because I still try not to lie, but couldn’t there be shadings here? If you have tough news for someone, can’t you take a moment to be sensitive and choose the right time and place to tell them? I think you did the right thing by your friend who got pregnant, and she asked for input, but I think decisions about how to share information with someone don’t need to be black and white. I think you can choose your words, your tone and your time and accomplish both authenticity and empathy. Can we try in the next month and see how it goes?

    1. There are absolutely shadings, Dina. ๐Ÿ™‚

      There’s really *quite* a bit I didn’t write in this third version of my article.

      “If you have tough news for someone, canโ€™t you take a moment to be sensitive and choose the right time and place to tell them?”

      Definitely. ๐Ÿ™‚ In fact, so long as you have that window of opportunity, that’s the *best* option, combining empathy with tough news.

      On top of that, I know people who exhibit self-defeating behaviors that I’ve *NEVER* given my opinions to. Instead of telling them at all, I elected to manage the situation. Their behavior went on their resume and I expect it from them and it’s an ongoing part of my interactions with them.

      Also, I have to wonder how often it is that people have tough news for other people.

      How often is it that we know more than someone else about their own situations?

      But let me be specific.. If we go to the “cab ride home” scenario you described, *especially* after a good night of friendship and sharing together, I feel like that person could have and perhaps should have glossed over the situation to you at that time and found an empathetic and strategic time in the future to tell you the truth.

      “Why don’t we hang out together anymore?” is a question very similar in type to “Are you deeply attracted to me?”. Not in intent, but in the fact that each person is being put on the spot as far as whether they want to be authentic or not. And then they have to think about what it means for their friendship if they choose to be inauthentic. And then they have to think about what it means as far as THEM being a friend to ANYONE, as far as whether ANY of it’s authentic or not.

      I went to a party one time where I had tons of friends, as usual, and one of them told me that another one had told him that he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and was going to have a kid.

      When I approached the future-kid-haver, I asked him what was new, and he said “Nothing.”

      Now it’s possible with all the friends that person has that he may have thought we had already discussed the situation.

      In fact, we had not.

      I felt like he had his reasons for not mentioning it, so I didn’t say anything. I certainly didn’t say “oh.. The fact that you’re about to have a kid is ‘nothing’?” I never brought the situation up to him evAr, to this day.

      Another friend of mine doesn’t know that I know that he tried unsuccessfully to bag my girlfriend [past tense] back in the day.

      This is because when she told me about it, she didn’t feel negatively about the situation to the point where I would have had to tell him something about himself, and as far as I’m concerned, dudes are *supposed* to try to bag my girls because they’re supposed to be attractive = guys want them.

      So I didn’t have any problem with the fact that he attempted that, and I’m still great friends with him to this day.

      So I’m all about the right time and place and circumstance for telling someone some tough news. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m also for not telling them at all, so long as you’re willing to live with the consequences of your decision not to speak up.

      The question is whether time is of the essence. Is there a window beyond which giving the information won’t be effective to help the person you’re telling, so that you need to figure out how to tell them what you need to tell them *quickly*?

      The other question is what responsibility one has to disseminate vital information to people whom one cares about. Personally, I’m going to do my best to make sure friends of mine don’t walk into any traps that I’m aware of. I’ll try to find the best and most compassionate way to tell them, but if the window is closing, it’s time for them to get what they need to be able to make an educated decision.

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