I’ve been fretting a little lately about whether I’m being authentic. I’ve been catching myself saying things to impress and to create a certain image of myself. Then I cringe inwardly. It’s easy to do, especially when you blog. You can easily get swept up in your own story. Press “publish”. And go eat a peanut butter rice cake.
So what does it mean to be authentic in such over-sharey times?
I love this quote from George Orwell:
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
I don’t know that we’re living in non-truthful times right now. It’s more that the truth gets convoluted by our meddling.
Over-sharing can appear to be authentic. Blurting stuff out, warts and all, can certainly look and smell and feel real. But it’s often a seductive guise for the truth. We can carefully select what we wish to over-share, and then broadcast it on Twitter and our blogs, thus painting a picture of ourselves as wonderfully transparent. But are we just being shouty? Are we authent-a-bragging?
Or is it a bit like doing that thing that women (sorry, it’s true) do so often, where we point out our faults before anyone else can? (We’ll say things like, “I know, I know, I’m fat today”, or “Thanks for the compliment about my lipstick, but my hair is having a frizz attack… sorry!”). When we do this we fend off perceived, impending criticism. As well as put up a big wall to being challenged further. Subject officially covered, DO NOT ENTER!!!
Hmph. I can do this.
Especially with people who I think might want to challenge me on something. I do it in relationships. And I do it with big words and elaborate, technical explanations which further bamboozle the other person into thinking, “Wow, she’s really truthful and authentic, I don’t really need to raise that hoary issue with her, she has it covered.” And thus they close the case and leave me alone. Which defeats the point of relationships, right?
So how do we be authentic now?
Jonathan Fields recently asked, is social media is killing authenticity? He kind of points out that we’re all so self-conscious now about being quoted and read online that we self-edit in real life.
I think all we can do is be alive to the issue. And practice NOT saying the shouty, over-sharey stuff, unless it serves a purpose beyond simply putting up a wall. Just a thought…
Interestingly, this was posted on Mumbrella a few days ago…
At the end (4.00 minute mark) it’s me talking about authenticity in media. I argue (although it’s not really that clear from my ranting), that there are a lot of players out there trying to define the new media landscape. The balls are in the air. No one knows where they’ll all land. Will the internet trump magazines? Can bloggers really take the place of journos? Where’s it all going? The only answer is that communicators with authentic messages will win out. The frauds won’t survive the turmoil. With a steady-fast message, it doesn’t matter what the medium is (online, TV, mags…)…you dance between them all. And we’re seeing this with voices such as Annabel Crabb. But also with lifestyle bloggers who “are their message”…not just talking it.
Who do you find authentic right now? How do you tell if they’re being authentic? Do you find you “drop off” the inauthentic voices (please don’t mention these names…not so cool).