Authenticity, it seems like the new “catch phrase” that’s being thrown around all over the land of social media (and real life, too.) People continue to post and post about how authenticity is king and how people prefer authentic and transparency online. Amen, I fully agree with that. Authenticity rules and everyone should really aim to share who they really are in every facet of their lives because everyone is awesome. Okay, enough of that. Let’s get down to business. I am sick of people talking about social media and how real life moments trump styled ones because styled moments aren’t authentic. Really? Like, really? I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile but I never really was sure how to navigate this discussion about social media…. that was until yesterday when I met up with Instagram fashion goddess Karla Reed. We’ve been “friends” for a few years and finally got to sit down for some lunch and conversation and boy, was it like catching up with an old friend. Our conversations were real, raw, and authentic (there’s that word again… are you sick of it like I am?)
When you own a business that’s entire marketing is centered around social media, you are putting yourself into a compromising situation, unlike the general population. Instead of using Facebook for fun quizzes and hilarious videos, you think about how to draw in audiences, gain a following, and share your work. People start to form opinions or expectations of who you are and what you post and sometimes the pressure can get intense! I choose to share my life on this blog, on Facebook, on my instagram. I choose the bits and pieces that are share worthy and I love letting people in on what makes my heart beat fast. I run multiple branches of my business and use social media to make people aware of the work I am doing and want to do and I am honest in my posts. I believe the world needs more positivity and truly want to propel others to chase their dreams alongside of me. What I share on social media is only a small portion of my life. I hold many things and relationships close to my heart and choose to save the real conversations for face to face. I don’t need to post about every drop of good/bad/ugly to be considered authentic and neither do you. In fact, my favorite moments are the ones I was present at to enjoy, the ones that I cling to and keep the phone off because what’s happening in front of me is far better without a phone in my hand. Want to be authentic? Be honest, share what you feel comfortable with, and just keep it real. Seriously, just keep it real.
Social media is all about highlight reels… at least for most of us, you know, the positive people. It’s a platform to share our lives, propel our businesses, and chase our dreams. Social media affords us many opportunities that weren’t previously accessible to the general population. The way I use these social media has a lot to do with marketing and life. Sure, I want to let people in on moments from my day to day but I don’t feel like I need to air dirty laundry, talk about challenging struggles, or grieve online in order to make me authentic. We all use social media differently and for different purposes, remembering that is step one! It isn’t my online diary of every photo I capture, it doesn’t contain the photos of my pub nachos or Drew sleeping next to the pups. Those are personal, those are private, those are mine and only mine. A lot of social media usage is determined by how personal or private the user wants to get, both are decisions only the user can make and neither one of those is inauthentic. If you have a terrible day and you want to share the pile of laundry that hasn’t been folded for weeks, then do it, if you want to put together a visually pretty photo so that you feel like you accomplished something today, then do it. Share what you want the world to see, make it pretty if you feel like it, keep it real.
The inauthenticity of social media often relies on the interpretation from the viewer, not from the actual user. I’m sure we all have those individuals who’s feed makes us feel crumby. Either they are living the life we wish we were living or they are chasing similar dreams as ours and we forget that we are only seeing their highlight reel. We all have those triggers that place doubt, fear, and guilt in our lives and recognizing that is something that can help you to move forward in the direction of your dreams, not someone else’s. I absolutely love styling. I have dreams of styling shoots for magazines or restaurants, I love styling products and showcasing their amazingness. Shooting those kind of things challenges me to see the world different, to create beauty on my dining room table, and to make something pretty in the comfort of my pajamas. Styling is something that has made me a better photographer and the challenge it poses inspires me, I am tired of styling getting a bad rep because people like to use the word “authentic” to describe what its not. We all like pretty things, sometimes you just want to scroll through a feed of prettiness, that doesn’t mean you aren’t real or chasing what makes you happy, okay?
Okay! So now what? If the jealousy bug has nipped you, take a step back from social media. Slow down, remember that people are sharing their favorite things and moments and sometimes they aren’t sharing their private life. Follow people who inspire you, who build you up, who encourage you to move in the direction of your dreams. Remember that what you believe shouldn’t dictate how someone else’s uses platforms, you aren’t inside their life, business, or mind so don’t try to dictate how they choose to post and share! Be okay with knowing that sometimes people make things look better than they really are (because you probably do, too!) Share what’s going on if you feel compelled: the cool things, the struggles, the projects but do not for a moment discount the unshareworthy things, those are just as precious and important. Let’s keep it real, stop throwing the word authentic around, and just do you! Hooray!