One thing I still don’t get about driving a car is rubbernecking. I understand slowing down if people or debris are in the road, but looking to see what’s happening in the middle of a busy freeway sounds insane.
Of course, I absolutely rubberneck because I’m a human being with eyes and I also want to know WTF that car is doing and why that person got out, omg is he dead or alive?! Why is the paramedic just standing there SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT’S GOING ON.
Curiosity beats the hell out of safe driving. I’ll turn my head 180 degrees to make sure that roadkill was in fact a deer and not (gasp!) something else.
Humans are weird and we really love being in other people’s shit. We’re voyeurs by nature and – Ok, I don’t actually know if that assertion is true, but hell if it doesn’t seem like it from our rubbernecking. Find me one instance of a car crash on the side of the road where NO ONE slows down to look. FIND ME ONE.
We love relishing in the (very obvious) truth that in the end of the day, we’re all human and fallible.
It’s part of why inappropriate content gets so wildly shared. (Exhibit A: Reality TV. Exhibit B: The “tell-all” news scoop. Exhibit C: The “What Really Happened” Instagram post. Exhibit D: The “Secrets” behind my launch I’ve never told anyone before). We love ourselves a good honest meltdown in public, served with a healthy dose of catharsis and confession.
We’ve started equating this propensity to overshare with “authenticity” – or rather, what I call the cult of authenticity. Let me make my feelings on this clear so there’s no confusion:
Authentic VS Fake is a false dichotomy.
In part, because people confuse “authentic” with “inappropriate.” Sharing personal details does not make you more authentic or real. Timing, context, and motivation matter. In the online content and publishing world, there’s a trend of using your audiences as receptacles for confessionals and then confusion as to why your products aren’t selling. After all, you were being “your true self!” Isn’t that the goal?
JUST BE YOURSELF AND THE MONEY WILL COME.
er. em. um. Wait – reframe: Yes, AND:
Don’t be dumb. Being “yourself” should not be confused with “exploding my guts in public to strangers on the internet.” And certainly not in service of a sale. That’s exploitation (mostly of yourself and your suffering), but also of your audience’s attention which you likely worked hard to earn.
“Fakeness” is likewise considered to be bad, when it is actually “Professional.”
My favorite lesson in this comes from a former client who runs a famous acting studio in Brooklyn. No one pays for ‘an authentic’ performance (though in fairness, we use those words). A performance is de facto pretending. Imagine if Misty Copeland got on stage at Lincoln Center and started telling you how her feet hurt, her toes are bleeding, she can barely breathe in this tutu, and she just isn’t feeling it today.
It’s not authentic, it’s unprofessional.
And yet we do this all the time in our content.
Pretending doesn’t have to be deceitful. But it is performance and it does require healthy boundaries.
A better dichotomy than “Authentic VS Fake” is “Amateur VS Professional.” The amateur equates raw unedited footage with “better,” where the professional respects the work and the practice required to create something great.
As you can imagine, I have a lot more to say about this, so I called up Hillary and we yelled about it in this week’s episode of Hillary and Margo Yell At Websites: How Much Should You Share Online?
In this episode, we go deep on:
- The difference between “authentic vulnerability” and “inappropriate disclosure”
- Why your audience is not “your friend” nor “support system”
- Why catharsis is disrespectful and can be an abuse of your audience
- The deceptiveness of “engagement rates” when it comes to this kind of content
- The appropriate place for boundaries with your content (and why boundaries are different from inauthenticity)
If you’ve ever wondered if something was “appropriate” to share or struggled with feeling like “omg I’m not being authentic enough! People don’t know the real me!” WATCH👏🏼THIS 👏🏼EPISODE 👏🏼.
PS: Hillary and I created a “GET TO 1,000 YOUTUBE SUBS” challenge. The challenge is to get to 1,000 subscribers by the end of the year and the award is (whispers: Hill what is the award?) Ok it’s not fully fleshed out yet, but we will come up with one. Probs a HAMYAW shoutout or perhaps we will yet at your website…we’re keeping tabs startiiiiinnnggggg NOW!