You can’t fake authenticity

There’s so much fakery out there isn’t there? I think there always was but I seem to be increasingly aware of it at the moment – maybe it’s the moon (more of that later!)

Online, especially from people who are trying to make a living with their business by using social media (people like me!) there seems an outright obsession with being ‘authentic’ and the need to be ‘vulnerable’.

I think I have mentioned before that Brene Brown’s latest offering, her Netflix special is pretty… special! Brene is somewhat of an expert in vulnerability, given that she’s studied it for many years and has undertaken a huge amount of research on the subject. Honest to goodness if you haven’t read her books, they really are worth the time and effort. It’s also well worth looking up her TED Talks.

One of the parts in her special that had me nodding my head off was her talking about what vulnerability ISN’T and especially how it isn’t the same as disclosure. She makes a joke about how live tweeting your bikini wax isn’t vulnerability – you get the point. Brene knows, and we all know deep down, that wanton disclosure of our life, all of our feelings and the content of our days, before we have even really processed it, is a bad idea and ultimately endears us to very few people.

I’m probably not alone in finding oversharing really, really uncomfortable to witness. So when people mistake vulnerability by oversharing or unwise disclosing, it often lands really badly with the people they are seeking to impress or draw closer. Which if you are using social media to build an audience for whatever it is you do, would seem to be a bad idea.

At best you have exaggerated or created something to appear vulnerable, at worst, you’ve revealed something that you’d have been better to keep it to yourself, at least until it wasn’t so raw and you could be strong in the telling.

And yet, there is SO much disclosure in the name of winning people over and increasing the likes and follows. So much disclosure, much of which as I say, really challenges me and has me wondering just how REAL the disclosure is.

Which brings me onto ‘authenticity’. I want a NEW work for proper authenticity because the word has been thoroughly hijacked to the point where I am completely sick of it!

I have a love/ hate relationship with instagram at the moment. On the one hand it’s nice, thoughtful and so pretty. On the other hand it’s nice, thoughtful and so pretty. And it’s starting to feel really fake.

I am definitely guilty of following people who like things that I like and whose grids are pretty and stories are good, behind the scenes type stuff. So I know I am partially doing this to myself. If my following list were more diverse, things might be different. But the algorithm helps me to stay in my comfort zone by endlessly offering me things that I should like.

But at the moment visually, it’s a sea of healthy breakfasts, early morning routines, cheese plants, macrame, linen and wildflowers. There’s a lot of white and grey, wood, dusky peach and pink. And even though it’s 2019, we still haven’t got bored of taking flatlay photos of coffee cups, laptops and plants (I blame Makelight!) – and yes I will hold my hand up, I have taken photos like this too!

I’m scrolling through an endless reel of these images accompanied by chat about slow living (but also ‘the hustle’), positive parenting, the importance of ‘sisterhood’, finding your tribe, following the moon and her cycles (everyone is currently MAD for the moon!). And of course in the business end of this, there are lots of posts about working hard, bossing it etc. There are mentions of six figure businesses and of course EVERYONE is busy. Even those into slow living 😉

Given that we are all different and unique, surely this uniformity points to a high level of inauthenticity. We can’t all be like this, live lives like this, think like this, believe in all this. And I think it shows. I’m not going to start naming accounts, good and bad, but there are those that I love where I do absolutely believe that that life, that aesthetic and those opinions belong to that person. You can just tell because you simply cannot fake it. People being who they really are, with real, unforced vulnerabilities, ideas and opinions, are just so easy to spot.They flow. There is no hint of desperation.

One of my favourite insta accounts has a lot of macrame, linen table runners and cheese plants. She might have even talked about the moon once, BUT. I just believe her and IN her and I have bought from her because of that (and because I like what she does). I feel she is being authentic.

There are other accounts who I am less convinced by and it’s a shame as I am sure 90% of the time, that person is a nice, good person, just trying to create content that is attractive and resonates. But they’ve forgotten to TRUST themselves. They’ve jumped on a bandwagon. Everything they do to market their business is based on, or is a bit of a rip off of something someone else has done. And it just somehow leaks out. I think most people using social media to promote themselves do this, I know I have.

Then there are the 10% who are very knowingly manipulating an audience for their own ends but I try not to spend to long in their world! (though some of them ARE fascinating – so long as you’re not one of the people taken in by them).

In the grips of comparison, when we feel genuinely vulnerable about our ability to run a successful business, we often leap to what feels safest, and that’s what everyone else seems to be doing. Cue fake authenticity, cookie cutter aesthetics and forced vulnerability plus following the trends rather than following our hearts.

It’s making me want to shake things up, both in terms of who I follow and also what I am personally posting. It’s also making me more determined than ever to empower female business owners to really find their OWN way, be brave enough to be really authentic and to create their own boundaries and rules about what they share online. Because there are SO many ways to grow a business, but only one YOU.

Whatever you are doing with your social media and other content, if it’s just to create a community and share your world with others, or if you do run a business and it’s part of your overall strategy to get sales, customers and clients, it feels important to take a step back and review what we are doing, why, to what end and to check that it still feels like us, that we are happy with that.

Does it feel like that to you? I’d love to know what you think. When you look at your social content, do you feel good?

If you are a female business owner and you’d like someone to bounce idea off about how you represent you and your brand online, why not get in touch? I have individual laser coaching sessions or coaching packages where you get regular support and ideas. I’m an experienced marketeer and a trained coach so I have the skills to take you from where you are, to where you want to be. So get in touch.

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