Online Authenticity and Its Challenges

Online authenticity comes with challenges, costs, and benefits. So how can a creative be authentic online in a world of conflicting advice? The answer is simple and difficult. Be yourself, but not too much. Seriously. That's it.

“Why are you trying to choreograph with someone else’s steps?”

My Best Friend

Online authenticity is tough. How much is enough? How much is too much? Is it okay to be my full self, warts and all?

Prepare for a rant.

What’s it like to want something perfect, while Google-fu vomits forth massive amounts of conflicting information? Consider me vexed. The worst offenders are the ones teaching so-called authenticity.

Difficulties of Online Authenticity

For every professional curated site exist several individually owned and operated blogs. (Yes, my blog is a monarchy of one.) Corporations like inc.com try to give us tips for online authenticity. Seven to be exact. Allow me to react to some of them.

  1. Be Real – Okay, off to a good start. Well, maybe. Their advice summed up? Show people that you’re a real person by using a picture/video/name. What they don’t say? Share your genuine side with people.
  2. Be Responsive – Their advice? Answer the phone if you leave a phone number on your website. Check your social media regularly for interaction and join in. My thoughts? Great, but you can still lie. Or hire someone to interact for you.
  3. Respect Privacy – Okay, good. Yes. Do that. Have a privacy policy or something, and make it understandable…

The next four are for non-creative businesses and products, which I am not. I don’t need to tell you what I had for dinner Wednesday last week to be authentic and transparent. Personally, for a how-to on this, I prefer Wavato’s article on how to be authentic online. It sets up strong with the first step: know who you are.

That’s harder than it sounds.

Cultivating My Presence Online

First, a disclaimer. I’m no expert in online authenticity. I’m a small presence on the internet spouting opinions. There. Disclaimer done.

I’ve been hunting for advice concerning online authenticity for literal years. How can I more effectively be myself online? More specifically, how can I cultivate an authentic presence online without oversharing? That’s the real trick.

When I posted about dangerous growth a few months ago, my thoughts went like this. If I become a mental health blogger and can help people grow and become better people, that will be fulfilling.

How wrong I was. See, I’m not a mental health blogger. I don’t truly know yet what my niche is, and honestly forcing myself into one sounds ghastly. It’s the ultimate stay-in-one-lane concept, and frankly? I can’t do that and stay authentic. That said, the danger of oversharing is very real as well.

Oversharing and Authenticity: Where’s the Line?

Search oversharing online and you’ll get 568,000 results. It’s a frequently discussed subject. Sure, trying to niche down could help. For me, though, that way lies madness. I’ve tried, and all I can come up with is mental health blogger. Too narrow by far, and my mental health challenges are part of my experience, but not who I am.

Step 6 in Wavato’s article linked above is especially helpful to avoid oversharing. Focusing on what makes you comfortable can help your content creation explode. I know because I’ve done the opposite with the whole mental health thing. It’s not something I’m comfortable discussing very often, because it’s not who I am.

So if niching down isn’t an option, what is? Sharing what interests me in a comfortable way. At the moment, I find the whole discussion of online authenticity fascinating. So that’s what I’ll write about.

Choreographing the Dance

Surprising none of my friends, I’m a perfectionist. The unrealistic standards I set myself often contradict each other. Which is why, when I came to my best friend about starting up my blog with the old rant style, she came at me with this question.

“Why are you trying to choreograph with someone else’s steps?”

My Best Friend

Talk about a slap in the face. I’m no choreographer, but I’ve got some experience with dance. Enough to know that using someone else’s steps is hardly the thing to do. Dance is like painting in the way the steps work like colors. Each artist has their own blend to make specific tints, shades, tones, and hues.

Every choreographer has their own way of looking at the individual steps of a dance.

So how was the question a slap in the face? Simple. My perfectionism consistently screams at me that I need advice on how to do better at X. Yet I already know what I’m doing in many ways.

I just don’t have the confidence to accept that. So what do I do? Accept me as I am and keep going? Or continue hunting for perfect?

Radical Self-Acceptance and Online Authenticity

Who I am is a complicated individual with vast and varied interests. The only reason I’ve spent so much time on my mental health is an issue of survival. That’s not where I thrive. I thrive in the chaos of random interest. Everything from astrophysics to true crime pulls me in.

That’s not a niche. However, what I’ve realized is my niche is not one of expertise, but of self. I can’t ignore who I am and what I enjoy in this blogger’s journey. So for now, I’ll simply do what I know how to do, and that is rant about whatever interests me at the time.

If I sparked any thoughts, I’d love to discuss them with you in the comments. How do you feel about ranting without going too far down the rabbit-hole of self? What would you rant about if you could? Drop the answers below.

Raidon T. Phoenix
Raidon T. Phoenix
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2 Comments

  1. I would rant about the disintegrating of community. We are increasingly isolated. It’s lack, undermines the disintegration of society.

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