Locate Authenticity At The Intersection: Social Media & Life
Who Are You Anyway?
Assumptions Are Wasteful: A Short Introduction To This New Series
It hit me in a sudden sort of way how limiting an assumption can be. My assumption about this blog, for instance, how I’ve been bypassing my passion for something I’ve grown solidly entranced by: Google Plus. Well, not exactly merely Google Plus but the ideas I bump into there, the people, the conversation. Topics that wrap me around their little finger and can keep me fueled for days on end. The feel of the environment and the culture invites me to explore, provides a space for self-discovery and nourishes my continuing education. This spreads to how I work with clients, how I run our business, how I write, how I live.
Considering how much time I spend evangelizing Google Plus with clients, prospective clients, family and friends…. Well. It’s the elephant in every one of my rooms. So I’m going to break my own useless rule, go for it and see where it takes me. Where it takes us. Welcome to my New Ride, a section on this blog devoted to The Spirit Of Google Plus.
Don’t Lie To Me
Growing up, my child’s perception of authenticity was borrowed from the culture. That included believing the story of Pinocchio. It seemed tangible. (yes, I’m gullible and suggestible) Still, it meant I simply knew that if I lied or was dishonest in any way, my nose would grow really, really long not only giving away my secret but also making me look all wrong. But worse, it would make me a terrible person. I decided to be truthful. (And look for that in others). It was a type of mild coercion-lite. Not dissimilar to the 1845 Der Struwwelpeter (or Shockheaded Peter) morality stories only a lot more useful. And I was buying. Still Am. Are you?
> > Ethics and Transparency: Lesson One Ingrained (loosely so-named)
Authenticity Is Where This Can Begin
Why is it that something as seemingly fundamental as ‘being ourselves’ has become such a mystery and is commanding acute examination? Because we’ve never before had so much stress placed on us to perform publicly this way with this level of scrutiny as we are now through social media and content marketing. We’re doing it for the world now. Everyone can see us and we want to be seen. We want to be found. And yet people have questions about behavior and concerns about how to flourish online. They’re wondering: “Who should I be?”
Which Costume Should I Wear?
Back then, I also lived a kind of odd double life straddling the zany chaotic world of the creative arts school my parents founded that we also happened to live in and my outside “real life” existence in a small, very conventional blue collar fishing village neighborhood and public school. That caused some confusion and discomfort about who to be where. I wanted to fit in, pour myself into a mold that didn’t even exist. In my estimation, I never fully succeeded because it was impossible, it wasn’t in me to shape myself into someone I didn’t even know the rules or conventions for. And that was another of many factors that showed me authenticity was a trait I valued and hoped to embody. Tada! I longed to be only my real self wherever I was. Here were the beginnings of my lifelong curiosity and fascination with authenticity (and identity). Who Am I anyway? Who are you?
> > Identity (who are we anyway?): Lesson Two Ingrained (loosely so-named).
We are living in a world where faking, identity theft, impersonation, posing, whatever you want to call it, misinformation of all kinds have been prevalent. And so now is the movement to put an end to all that. A movement of connectivity, trust, collaboration, honesty. Authenticity is placed firmly at the intersection of all of it; life, our relations, social media and business. Because it’s a mandatory ingredient.
We are seeking answers, feeding our consumer desires, hiring, propagating, conversing and building real relationships with people we haven’t met in our physical world and may never meet. It’s only natural that authenticity would become a priority, an edict. Not only for our person-to-person encounters but also for brands and marketing (which we understand also to be person-to-person). The interconnected world means we can research, read reviews, check citations, get a handle on some truth. We are learning who to trust and why we trust them. Trust grows directly from authenticity.
So this puts us all squarely on a quest to be authentic. Guidelines and even step-by-step instructions abound and vary. Formulas are popping up. A trend is born. It’s popular right now. But look beyond the mounting cliché to the intrinsic and real need for authenticity. It’s not an option. It’s a time when looking inward to excavate truth and genuineness and then, to take that and BE IT is fast becoming a requirement. Even if it frightens or makes you uncomfortable. This is serious. It’s built into the new system, the Google algorithm, the expectations and demands of the public. And dare I say it, it could be a self-demand that will make everything you do more meaningful. It’s the backbone of the semantic web.
I couldn’t be happier.
I’ve a Nickel For Noah’s Ride
One of the hallmark events at my parents’ school was the annual or twice annual “opera”. Really, they were musicals. My father (the composer) wrote the story, script and songs, my mom (the modern dancer) choreographed the dance and movement, and they were directed in collaboration with the drama teacher and the rest of the staff.. The students performed the show in the on-campus theater after endless rehearsals, costume creation, set building. Parents, friends and neighbors provided the audience.
The most beloved production, Noah, was written and first performed in the early 60’s more as a community theater piece with adults in the cast and then later with just kids and renamed to The Now Noah and finally, for a grander group of performances at the local high school with an additional collaborative, professional crew. It became somewhat mythical in the culture of the school.
The story centered around a small community (like ours) fighting a bureaucratic battle with the powers that be (true story) who wanted to build a bridge across the Long Island Sound from our little village to the other side in opposition to the general consensus of the village (we won). In the dimly veiled story of the opera, it was Mrs. Rhinestone, a developer-cum-mayor (already destroying local businesses in favor of malls and huge super-supermarkets) who wanted to build a useless tunnel to nowhere.
Now here’s the beauty of the story. Walking literally on foot smack into the maelstrom of the town’s epic struggle, was a ragged-dusty-traveling-circus-runaway-trio that changed everyone and everything. Noah was the Visionary Ringleader Evangelist of Self-Discovery and he traveled with Giant, the Strongman, Till, The Pied Piper, whose charisma and love delighted the towns’ children and led them to Noah’s Ride. They brought the power of Noah’s Ride to the ordinary citizens of a town in trouble.
Noah’s Ride itself was very simple. It cost a nickel. It took place on the street. For each person who wanted to go on the ride, Noah drew a chalk circle on the asphalt and a townsperson (if they dared) would step inside the circle. Inside that magical circle they would find Themselves. They would magically learn their purpose, their dreams, their truth, their soul and their passion. It was unavoidable and happened to each and every one. “Who am I? I Am”
Eventually, even the villains of the story stepped into their own circles. They too discovered themselves, their passionate and very real dreams and the town was saved because it enlightened them on their own ill-advised actions and put an end to the madness. Authenticity trumps misdeeds. I still get chills. How much easier it would be if we had Noah’s Ride now?
> > Finding Possibility (and solutions) In Authenticity: Lesson Three Ingrained (loosely so-named).
What’s intriguing to me today is that something so dear as authenticity is a trending imperative. It goes way beyond trending, luckily. It is the very heart of everything.
I confess to sometimes wishing to have an occasional veneer to hide safely hide behind. And truthfully, we know we all have some measure of that regardless of our wishes. But I wildly prefer to imagine a world where we are all, business included, showing up as who we really are, knowing who we are. Not only safe to be ourselves but encouraged to be. Willing to dare just a little bit to expose something of ourselves. Something that matters to us. What’s the so-called name of that?
If You Care To Dip In a Little Further
You’ve just learned why I’m so drawn to David Amerland’s work and why his book, Google Semantic Search, first appealed to me. I suggest you read it.
Here are a couple of links: “Humanity In Social Media. Finding Your Identity” and “Where Is Danger” to work of mine that speak to both identity and authenticity and our fears of exposing who we are. The second link will take you into John Kellden’s remarkable Conversation Community. One of my favorite places on earth.
Here are some amazing gems; articles and conversations about authenticity by people who care very much:
David Amerland: Authenticity and your Marketing Personality. Ryan Hanley: You HATE the Word Authentic Eric Enge and Mark Traphagen host David Amerland in this video Hangout On Air: Is Authenticity a “Factor” in Effective Digital Marketing?, Bruce Marko: Into The Authentic, Marilyn Moore: The ABC’s of Semantic Search.
Endnote: I hope you enjoyed your first spin on my New Ride which is not so unlike Noah’s when I think about it. G+ is the ride for self-discovery. Believe it or not, I did not refer to this new blog section as my ‘new ride’ intentionally to tie in with the Noah story in any way. I only just realized it now.
Photo & Image Credit: Gina Fiedel
“I confess to sometimes wishing to have an occasional veneer to hide safely hide behind. And truthfully, we know we all have some measure of that regardless of our wishes. But I wildly prefer to imagine a world where we are all, business included, showing up as who we really are, knowing who we are. Not only safe to be ourselves but encouraged to be. Willing to dare just a little bit to expose something of ourselves. Something that matters to us. What’s the so-called name of that?”
Proceed with caution. Exposing yourself even a little, could come with really bad consequences on Social Media and otherwise, if your true self isn’t cozy.
In my personal life, those who know me well, would contend that I am transparent. Sometimes, TOO transparent.
The truth is that I don’t see it working any other way.
But on Social Media, until you find your niche, not from a business perspective but from a people perspective, authenticity can be dangerous.
I can tell by your website, your blog and your writing style that YOU are very warm and friendly. That is a terrific combination for success on Social Media.
The opposite is true for those of us who write like we are angry all the time, even when we are not angry. Hello, nice to meet you, my name is Vin Messina, and I do not have a friendly online voice.
Actually, I am not certain I have a friendly offline voice either. But that works for me offline, because I attract the crowd that suits me best. Sadly, that same crowd doesn’t pay my bills.
Either way Gina, great article. I envy your warm and fuzziness!