The topic of authenticity, self-discovery and representation of our True Selves comes up frequently in any conversation about social media, whether it be among those who work within the space, or when talking with people who have an inherent distrust of the digital landscape.
For those who operate within the space, being able to determine the shill from the professional is a point of not only personal preference but also professional effectiveness. On the other hand, when talking with people who still think that everyone behind a keyboard is a hermaphrodite with ill intent (“You don’t know WHO is on the other side of that keyboard, Ethel!”) authenticity comes down to fear of the unfamiliar.
That said, while some use the perceived anonymity of the web to pose as flame-baiting trolls bent on stirring the pot while hiding behind their keyboard, others have found that the experience of being online has distilled their essence and magnified their true voice.
I can’t speak for anyone else in this regard, but for me, it’s the latter. I’ve been online in earnest since about 1999, when social media was then known as message boards. Comprised of opt-in enclaves of people who gathered around cyber-watering holes to chat about communal interests, be they entertainment, politics or hobbies, these boards opened up a world to me otherwise unknown. Distance was academic: an abstract concept.
Minds connected us. Theories and interests formed the foundation of Community.
I have since met many of these folks in real life, at conferences, vacationing or catching a Cubs game together on occasion. But the elemental infrastructure of our relationships was forged online. Through these online conversations, I was forced to truly distill, discern and share how I really felt about something.Â
Any post I made had to travel from synaptic haze into my frontal cortex, sift around there for a bit before traveling through my fingers. And then I had to choose to push the return key, thus, in my mind, crystallizing (and owning) my opinion.
For what it’s worth, my online voice is probably a titch more formal than my RL voice. That’s due to decades of a grammarian grandmother who had me diagramming sentences from an early age. However, that said, I’d wager that I operate as a WYSIWYG computing platform: what you see is what you get.
We have opportunities every day to aspire to our higher selves when we communicate, online and otherwise.
Through mindful application of identification and articulation, we can communicate instantaneously via the internet with almost anyone in the world about any subject. Social media, in particular, is The Great Leveler in my opinion. A tweet I sent out the other day asserted that, at some point, it is my hope that through tools like social media, we’ll all realize our common humanity and understand that what affects one, affects all.
What does this have to do with “independent ideas?”
William Shakespeare wrote, “…to thine own self be true.” In order to be apart from others, one must identify that which makes one unique. Building upon our individuality means identifying our authenticity.Â Self-awareness is empowering.Â Do people get a sense of who you are through what you post or tweet? If I met you at a conference, would I meet the person or the persona? Are you that Someone Behind the Curtain, or is there a genuine quality that aligns with who you are online?
Being fake is not only annoying; it renders you invisible and irrelevant. When our online presence mirrors our offline reality, our effectiveness is magnified. People trust those who are authentic. What say you?
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establishÂ Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter asÂ @mckra1g orÂ @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” them onÂ facebook.