Friday, March 1, 2013

Authenticity

Prompted by so many different blog posts I've read this week, I started to think about authenticity. It is becoming more and more difficult to identify who is truly authentic in what they do. Is someone writing a self-help blog post because they truly believe what they are writing will help others, or is it all for show just because others have written similar posts and it seems to be popular? Bloggers that are also shop owners offer up some of the strangest and silliest products and I wonder if people really love the products THAT much or if their oohing and aahing in the comments are simply because everyone else is oohing and aahing.



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We have a tendency in this society to build people up. Constructive criticism cannot be given without seeming offensive. I see this on a daily basis with my students. Parents tell their children that they are so smart and such awesome students even if the reality is that they really aren't. The student continues to get built up and when the teacher interjects and tries to explain that a student is struggling, the response is that it must be the teacher and not the student.

In the blogging world, I see the same thing. Readers build up the bloggers that they follow. Sometimes I read articles that are just plain common sense, yet readers respond as if whatever the blogger wrote about is ground-breaking information. It seems as though we, as individuals in this society, have been trained to want to feel important. Or it seems we do everything for gratification. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to have someone tell you that you've done well at something, but my question about authenticity comes from these thoughts-- How much of what we do is real? Is the oohing and aahing and the building people up real, or is it because everyone else is doing it? How much of it is truly sincere or is done with calculated intent? And is any of the insincere junk healthy?


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When we give up our authenticity, I think we give up a lot more. We let others mold who we are instead of being ourselves, and we falsify hope within others by being inauthentic with our words and actions. Our authenticity shows who we are and if we give that up, then who are we really? Something completely fake with absolutely no substance?

We are a society that is propelled by adulation. When is someone going to tell the poor blogger with the funky headband that no one wears those in real life and they look ridiculous? Or that we already know how to have a fulfilling relationship without the self-help guide?

For me, blogging is about sharing my experiences-- how much I truly ADORE eating tacos, how annoyed it makes me that the Baltimore City Police helicopter was spying on me while suntanning, how ridiculously excited I am to share something new from my business. It is an outlet that I have needed for a long time to escaped feeling stifled from a rather uncreative daily job. The nature of blogging is that we get up on our soapboxes (hell, I'm doing it right now!), but how long do we keep up the charade of the every-single-thing-you-do-is-amazing-because-it-is-you-who-did-it commendation?

We are not always awesome, in fact rarely awesome at best. So why with the inauthentic gestures? Life is crappy a lot of times. Life is also fantastic a lot of times and if everything is played out to be happy 100% of the time, it makes me feel as though I'm in The Truman Show itself. (I hope someone got that reference because it is Jim Carey at his best. And by best, I mean, great acting, not laughing his head off like a hyena.)

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Nothing is meant to be perfect and nothing ever will be. And it creeps me out when people pretend weird things and play weird parts in their big play that is their life instead of just living it and writing about it. So go give someone some constructive criticism! Tell them that they really shouldn't have worn those purple tights with a cobalt dress or that their card isn't that funny after all (yes, truly people, I hope you haven't been faking me out here the whole time or I would be crushed to know you can't be honest!). I. Can. Take. It. And we all need to learn to get a little thicker skin. It's the healthier solution in the end.

10 comments:

  1. Loved this post, and I'm not BS-ing you. ;) I think people... no, correction, BLOGGERS (or wannabes) hear that the best way to draw people to their blogs is by being active on other's blogs and social media sites, but to NEVER be negative. So they all jump in, with their congratulations and their "that's so cute!" and the oohing and aahing, as you mentioned, because being super-sunshine-happy all of the damn time is supposed to make people want to see what they're up to, and maybe then THEY will have a successful blog and a life of luxury and private planes... or whatever it is one gets as the best blogger evah! prize. They aren't thinking ahead to how darn difficult it's going to be to maintain that level of perfection if they do, overnight, get 3,000 followers and a whole bevy of fans.

    I say, be REAL from the start, then the only thing you ever have to live up to is something that's going to come easily and naturally -- being yourself.

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    1. You are absolutely right on! You touched on another point I've thought about a lot as well. What does being a popular blogger show for? Other than perhaps making a little money from sponsorships, I think in reality these people are a nobody in the grand scheme of things-- so why are they all so influential? It is a bizarre world out there!

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  2. hahaha.. let me just say that I absolutely love this post. Being sincere. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a person likes your post or they are just being nice.

    The post I wrote yesterday regarding my experiences with religion I got mostly a 'to each his own' comments. I didn't expect many people to agree with my feelings because a lot of people aren't atheists. It was nice though that there are more people out there that are more tolerant and accepting of others.

    Well.. at least I hope they are genuinely tolerant and they aren't just lying to me to make me feel better.

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  3. This is a really great post. It is really frustrating to read a sketchy post and then see the cheers and hurrahs at the end of it from the fan base. I like to read blogs where the author's personality comes through and you can tell that they're enjoying sharing with their audience.

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  4. I really loved this. When a blogger is inauthentic it drives me crazy!
    If I love something, I say so, if I don't I just say nothing. I don't ooh and awww just because everyone else is doing so...at least I try not to do that! But, if I really don't like something a blogger posts about, I just keep my mouth shut. No sense in bringing anyone down. That being said, sometimes I just don't have time or don't feel like commenting so if I don't comment, don't think I hated your post :).

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  5. I'm so glad you're writing about this, for two reasons. One, I agree with you about the false praise going around blogland. I used to read more fashion blogs than I do now, and a lot of times those girls would wear things that were straight-up bonkers (usually from a sponsor), but everybody in the comments would be like, "OMG. You look GREAT." And for a while I thought maybe I just wasn't that stylish after all, but no. The commenters were just sheep following the herd. So I stopped reading those altogether.

    And this wasn't exactly your point, but it's nice to hear a teacher condemning too much praise for kids. I hate to say it, but I was one of those young people who was praised for everything, and it did NOT do me any favors. In fact, it hurt me when I went away to college because I was totally unprepared for the realities of the world. I couldn't properly cope with minor disappointments for years because I just didn't have the skills. I'm better now, but I wish I'd gotten more criticism when I was a kid. Honesty for the win!

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  6. I'm not you, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think you're reading too much into things. If someone is being false with their posts or responses, that's on them....I've never, in years of blogging, felt like a responder was just going with the crowd, of one of the bogs that I follow was just trying to be popular. I think everyone acts with their true, authentic self...or they get buried under the obligation that blogging carries with it. I don't think bloggers are ground-break folk, but helpful folk who enjoy sharing information, personal or non, useful or not.

    And for the gods' sake, if you are encouraging me but secretly don't give a fuck about me...encourage away! I'd rather hear supportive lies than total silence. I don't see the harm in that.

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  7. Girl, get that honesty out there! And damn, it's so true. What does being a "popular" blogger have to show for anything. We're definitely not in high school. That's sort of why I haven't pulled the trigger on having "sponsors." At least you have a legit business your promoting. In all honesty, my life is pretty boring. What the hell am I promoting? I just like to show my support for those people/blogs I like to read and relate to. Thanks for being honest. And keep talking about tacos...because no bullshitting...I'm with you on that one!

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  8. I really enjoyed reading this and I have a lot of similar thoughts. When I started blogging a few years ago it wasn't like it is now. Honestly as much as I enjoy looking at a few style blogs or really beautifully curated lifestyle blogs ... to me that's not ever going to be my reality so there's just no reason to pretend. For the people writing them, if that's what they enjoy doing, then hey, go for it I guess. What makes me more frustrated is that if anyone DARES to criticize a "big" blogger, no matter how constructively or kindly, the fangirls eat that lone dissenting voice alive. There isn't room for a conversation at all. I've seen it happen on the IG and comment feed of a blogger whose website I used to read faithfully but now kind of have a bad taste because of that hive mentality.

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  9. i think more and more I just write the blog i want to read. I like my blog and I hope others do too, but really, I just want ME to be happy with it.

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