Authenticity with Dignity
Authenticity or “being real” has become an unqualified virtue in the age of social media. Frequently, however, the edgy in-your-face manner of expression is regarded more highly than the act of honesty itself. Coarse and tactless announcements for any and all eyes to see is the norm for this form of genuineness in our culture that seems so concerned with shamelessly removing the line between what is private and what is public. Honesty is important, but so is the way in which we go about it:
"As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart." (Proverbs 25:20)
Words such as dignity or propriety often spring to mind with antiquated connotations, but they really are a beautiful and useful art form. Propriety is knowing the suitableness or appropriateness of words and behaviors. It's a facet of wisdom with which to walk circumspectly and demonstrate a keen understanding of the concepts of time and place. Dignity is not a prideful endeavour, but conducting oneself in a manner that is most loving towards your fellow man.
I've come to believe that this concept of authenticity with dignity is especially important for husbands and wives and how they talk about one another in public, to friends, and especially on social media. We've all heard that couple that goes on and on about the embarrassing behaviours or shortcomings of their significant other. We’ve all seen those tweets, blogs, and posts that make one's cheeks flush and bring to mind words such as "did I really need to know that?" It makes us uncomfortable or, at least, it should. Just because your Twitter bio tells the world that you are "trad" doesn't mean your tweets are reflecting a traditional mindset. They can so easily portray the opposite ... especially when you're tweeting about something that really should have stayed in the bedroom between you and your spouse.
Husbands and wives speaking with propriety and even a certain reservedness concerning their marriage or one another are in no danger of being dishonest or ingenuine. Words can be honest and also be phrased in such a way that they are suitable to both the situation and to the audience. Sometimes, there is a beauty in simply not saying anything at all, especially in this age where we seem to think that we have to have an exceedingly strong opinion about everything and must express said opinion by any and every means possible. It doesn't matter if it's not a well-thought-out opinion or the fact that it's being expressed as a meme or a snarky comment. As long as it's out there in some way, shape, or form, you have done your duty in being a genuine and authentic individual.
It is possible to be "real" without resorting to uncouthness. It’s not prudish to hold clear views of what should be private and what should be public. I don't doubt that there is a time and a place for serrated speech or bluntness. I just don't believe that they are suitable for all communication all the time or even the majority of the time. How much more effective would those tools be if they were reserved for being used at a time and in a place where they do the most good?
“No one seems to have noticed that a loss of a sense of shame means a loss of privacy; a loss of privacy means a loss of intimacy; and a loss of intimacy means a loss of depth. There is, in fact, no better way to produce shallow and superficial people than to let them live their lives entirely in the open, without concealment of anything.” ― Theodore Dalrymple, Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses