What is Real? – Thoughts on Authenticity..
There is a word that people have been throwing around for the last decade as part of what might be seen by some as a movement, of sorts. This word is “authentic.” There are those of us who seek to reclaim our own authenticity in a society that is replete with the means to defeat that purpose. The irony that social media is touted as a means to “represent your individuality” as you flit around more or less anonymously from twitter to facebook to your own blogs and then to “klout” is not lost on me.
And I haven’t yet become so immersed in all this that I’ve forgotten what I am doing even as I post this comment. It’s like railing against the “capitalist machine”and then going out and buying a white chocolate mocha at Starbucks. I’ve seen pretentious beret-wearing motherfuckers do this in New York City, and I do nothing but shake my head and laugh. I haven’t really got the motivation to point out the hilarity of what they’ve just done.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. My hypocrisy will only extend so far.
But what are we trying to do in the modern world when we define our authentic selves? Is it right to say that the people who read my blog and who share my facebook posts and wall pictures really know who the hell I am? Is it healthy to feel a sort of rejection at not being “retweeted” or “given klout points” at least once a week?
I’m not going to lie to any of you. I ventured into twitter and the social networking scene with serious trepidation. I didn’t want some image or caricature of myself to be the only thing that people really understood about me. I don’t want the darkness of the fiction I write to be the only thing that registers with people every single time they view my profile picture, and I don’t particularly care to see others as one dimensional visages of the night, sparkly vampires, dark lords, or anything of the sort. The novelty of that wears off pretty quickly for someone like me because I’m the type of person that is interested in the layers underneath the facade. Maybe it’s because I studied psychology in college and worked in mental health for almost 7 years, but the fact remains that it isn’t easy to sort through all the bullshit to get to what’s real for each of us anymore. We can pretend all we want to that modern technology has created easier means through which to communicate, but that’s only a part of the process. I would argue that modern technology has simply afforded more of us a global reach with our words, images, and quirky surface level personalities.
But if I was to pick ONE Of my blog or twitter followers right now and attempt to have a real “conversation” with him or her, I would have to start from the beginning with the word “hello.” I would seek to find out how they’re feeling in that very moment, how their days have gone, and what’s so special about their lives that they feel the need to share it with the world. And it would not be meant as a means to denigrate or to spew invective about how “eccentric” or pretentious people can be. We all have those tendencies. It’s almost imperative that we do in order to stand out nowadays in social media…
Where do the false expectations from our World Wide Web followers and public supporters come from? Do we pigeon hole ourselves with the images that we create; the avatars with which we “dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
Writers seem to have a particularly nuanced way of doing this through their use of social media. Simply put, social media has become a means through which writers can “show their wares.” I can think of a few people who simply want their writing to speak for itself, and yet I can think of quite a few others who are so desperate to sell their writing that they would sooner have me follow them on twitter just so that some bot that they took the time to set up months ago will automatically bombard me with their inflated egos. That bothers me, but not because I am not curious about their writing. Goodness knows that someday I hope to be shilling my own wares on unsuspecting victims..I mean a captive audience. But I have to wonder if the author behind the bot really intended for people like me to be turned off or simply bemused by their stunning lack of personal connection with one of their potential readers.
And then I realize as I have this thought, my mind circles back to the word “authentic.” What is the authentic essence of the person behind the bot? Who the fuck are they, really? Do they want me to know, or are they trying to evoke an image in order to strike a chord and sell me something? And how does MY authentic self fit into this equation?
Am I buying what they’re selling?
No lie, sometimes the answer to that last question is a resounding YES!
Can we strive to be “authentic” then in a world that practically demands that we put on airs? Let’s face it, even at our regular places of employment, most of us are busy doing and saying things that we don’t want to be doing or saying, especially nowadays when it is so imperative that we keep the jobs that we have. It can be such a tiresome process.
Yet the few people who truly know the “real” me didn’t garner that information purely from social media. For those who didn’t meet me before my amusing adventures on the internet, something about the image that I evoked sparked enough of an interest from them that they took their curiosity to the next level. The reverse has happened to me on rare occasions too. I’ve attempted real communication with a select few of my slowly growing list of followers on websites like twitter.
In the end, the people who really begin to get to know the real me are the ones who can close down twitter, facebook, klout, and all the other internet bullshit and just hang. I can talk to them about things that have nothing to do with my writing, and have just as much fun. We can chew the fat about our day to day thoughts. I can congratulate new parents, ask my female friends why the fuck I don’t understand the sizes pertaining to women’s fashion, and I can even sit with the best of them in comfortable silence and just “be me.” That is a rare thing indeed, and nothing offered by digitalized personae will ever come close to that.
I know I know. I’m posing more questions than I’m answering. But what’s life without these kinds mysteries? Are you reading this right now and wondering if this is the real me? Maybe you should wonder. Better yet, drop me a line and find out for yourself.
This entry was posted on 05/11/2012 at 6:19 PM and is filed under The Flow and Rhythm of Life, The Writing Process (How do I Come up These Beats?) with tags Writing, Short Story, musings, New York, Spirit, NYC, Texting, poignant question, conflict, fiction, Life, Love, Moving on, healing, friends, self doubt, travel, authenticity, truth, writers, world wide web, internet, commentary, Morpheus, gaming, technology, blogging, chocolate mocha, vacation, social media, the Matrix, Neo Anderson, Lawrence Fishburne, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once More with Feeling. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.