In an age where technology blurs the lines between reality and fiction, “authentic” has emerged as Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2023. At its core, authentic means being genuine, real, and true. It’s about honesty and not being a copy or fake. This word, which has woven its way deeply into our daily conversations, is not just a term; it’s a reflection of our collective desire for truth and reality in a rapidly changing digital world.

The Rise of Deepfakes and AI

One of the most compelling reasons for the prominence of “authentic” is the explosion of deepfake videos and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Deepfakes are videos made using AI that can make it look like someone is saying or doing something they never did. This technology has made it difficult to distinguish what is real from what is fabricated, raising questions about the authenticity of online content.

Deepfakes have been used for entertainment, but they also pose significant challenges. They can be used to spread misinformation or harm people’s reputations. As a result, the quest for authentic, unaltered content has become more crucial than ever.

Authenticity in Social Media

Social media has also played a role in emphasizing the importance of being authentic. With the rise of influencers and online personalities, there’s a growing movement towards presenting oneself in a more genuine and less filtered manner.

People are valuing authentic expressions and connections over curated and edited content. This shift highlights a broader societal trend towards valuing the real and the genuine over the artificial and manufactured.

Authenticity in Daily Life

The word “authentic” isn’t just limited to technology and social media. It has permeated our daily lives, influencing how we interact with others, how we perceive ourselves, and even how businesses operate.

In a world where trust can be hard to earn, being authentic is seen as a virtue. Whether it’s in relationships, at work, or in personal choices, authenticity is increasingly being valued as a key to building trust and understanding.

The Challenge of Maintaining Authenticity

As we navigate a world filled with AI and digital advancements, maintaining authenticity becomes a challenge. It’s not always easy to discern what’s real and what’s not. The availability of tools that can alter reality presents a constant test of our ability to identify and appreciate authenticity.

However, this challenge also presents an opportunity for critical thinking and for developing a keener sense of discernment when it comes to consuming information.

Embracing the Word of the Year 

Merriam-Webster’s choice of “authentic” as the word of the year is more than just a reflection of the times; it’s a call to action. It urges us to seek truth, to value genuineness, and to embrace the real in a world increasingly populated by the artificial.

As we move forward, the pursuit of authenticity will undoubtedly continue to shape our culture, our technology, and our understanding of what it means to be truly real.