I recently had an interesting talk with a good friend of mine. He asked me if I thought LFB was an accurate representation of who I am. I had a bit of a think and told him that while I do not air out everything that happens in my life on LFB, what is here to see is definitely an accurate portrayal of me. Meaning that I do not share everything about myself but what I do share is honest. After all, my mindset going into starting LFB was always to be genuine.
He was the first of my friends to say otherwise and tell me that he didn’t think my online persona accurately represented me. Which got me thinking about the nature of blogs and why they – and the rest of social media – can be so damned confusing and frustrating for so many people when it comes to the question of authenticity and how individuals represent themselves.
Whereas blogging was once literally an online version of a personal diary only read by a select few, today’s social media channels are broadcasted to anyone with an internet connection. And with that, blogging, instagramming, and snapchatting – while still personal – have also become professional. These channels are run by individuals showing pieces of their actual lives but when combined with a career, although these social media influencers and bloggers are sharing their daily lives with their readers and viewers, they are also doing so in a professional capacity, working with clients and sponsors. This is so different to traditional advertising or traditional careers where the line between work v personal are clearly defined.
But the difficulty with blogging and social media is that you are generally expected to appear genuine – 100% authentic – and share every aspect of your life with your followers while still keeping a professional attitude and producing non-offensive content.
And it gets even more complicated because you are forced to choose a hat for a setting that combines multiple environments where different hats due to different terrain would be used – work and personal – as well as multiple players – strangers, friends, significant others, not to mention family. (Pretty sure Aunt Suzy wants to read about your sex life just as much as you want her to read about it – meaning not at all, jus sayin’)
Because here is the thing: when I worked in an office job, I acted differently than I did amongst friends. I omitted certain details that would hurt my professional career. I kept my love life private – that is until things got to rough I burst out in tears at work. (Hey, I never said I was perfect!) Certain behaviour and information is not work appropriate and could get you fired. You wear your work hat at work and your private life hat in your free time.
When blogging is your career, the lines get a hell of a lot more blurry and it seems that ok every front social media influencers get heat for not expressing their political views, expressing them too often, not being “real” enough, or creating staged content.
Let me say this: each of us who is working in the social media field must decide for themselves what they are comfortable sharing. While I value honesty, I am the first to say that you are not fake or lying or disingenuous because you choose not to talk about being embarrassingly drunk last Friday because your boyfriend broke up with you. Sure, if you feel like writing about it go for it! But if you wouldn’t share this information in a professional office work setting, you should not feel compelled to do so in your blog. In fact, doing so in the traditional work field might very well get you fired.
We often talk about what it means to be real – that being genuine is the most important aspect of blogging – that is defines our level of integrity. And I do think there is a lot to be said for that. I want to read about a blogger’s honest opinions about a product, not a positive review that has been bribed out of someone.
But the level of honesty and openness a blogger or social media influencer is meant to have needs to be re-evaluated when one considers the professional aspect. (The same goes for understanding staged content. Now I’m not saying you should only take photos of you looking really happy and having the best day ever, but yes outfit photos are planned and yes it sometimes takes 20 photos before you get the right shot of your meal. That’s okay! I’m used to eating cold meals by now, lol.)
Don’t get me wrong – bloggers, youtubers, and social media influencers who try to portray perfect lives are doing a disservice to their viewers and this is potentially even more damaging than traditional adverts because viewers may thing it is attainable when a selection of carefully curated Instagram photos do not tell the whole story. But as long as you are not living a total lie, this story is still part of a truth and that is okay. We just all need to understand the circumstances in which content is created.
Thank you to my November sponsor, Dee Shoots!