How To Keep Your Online Authenticity From Becoming Digital Masturbation

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There is a quandary that grips all creators (present company included) when it comes to the online social media space. You need to self-promote online to be heard, you need to have a unique voice to stand out and you need to be authentic to be trusted.

And you’ll need to do this without having the people in your social spheres think you’re a narcissistic prick while you’re doing it.

Not so simple.

So how are we to know the difference between genuine authenticity and overindulgent transparency when it comes to sharing things online?

Let’s look at the 3 questions to ask yourself to ensure that the juggling of knives that is intentional vanity doesn’t mame your followers.

1) What the hell does authenticity even mean?

If your transparency shines a light on how other people might benefit from your experience, then it’s authenticity.

If your transparency shines a light on how other people might benefit from your experiences, then it’s faux-thenticity. (Yes, I just coined that.)

People can smell your faux-thenticity from a mile away.

2) If no one “liked” your post, would you still be as excited about the content you posted about?

We all know that the majority of our friends on Facebook and followers on twitter are not our actual “friends.” Yet we often feel the need to share seemingly endless emotional realizations or business breakthroughs with people we don’t even know.

Not for their gain, of course.

We do it for our own recognition; for how cool, thoughtful, humble or grateful we hope other people will perceive we are due to our “like-trawling” post.

The more addicted to the “like” machine we get, the more we’ll spend our whole lives trying to get the approval of people who aren’t there. And the scarier it is to think about what on earth we would do if people weren’t around to applaud us.

Faux-thenticity is a badge of the needy.

3) Are you being transparent, just because you can?

It’s not transparency if people didn’t ask to look. It’s like seeing a naked man getting changed in a storefront window. Sure, he’s being transparent about what happens in between the towel coming off and the pants being worn, but no one was interested in seeing it in the first place.

If you’re posting about how tired you are and how you still pushed through to get something done, that’s not authenticity, it’s annoying. You worked hard? So what? You’re supposed to, as Chris Rock famously said.

Just because you did or learned something, doesn’t mean you have to share it. Maybe save whatever lesson you think you learned today for a blog post, article, white paper or video lesson titled, “Top 10 Ways To Push Forward Even When Motivation Goes The Way Of The Dodo Bird” or whatever.

If you’re telling everyone how “humbled and honored” you are, then you’re no longer humbled and honored. Humbled people don’t bum rush the stage to an award show they weren’t invited to, to share their appreciation for a lifetime achievement award that they just gave to themselves. Humble people express their humbleness only when the spotlight is put on them by someone else. Gracious people express their true gratitude to people in private or with a handwritten card or a personal email.

Does there need to be transparency? Of course. Should we be authentic? Yes. But very quickly the need to be transparent suddenly trumps the power of authenticity and before we know it, our self-adoration becomes digital masturbation.

When you want to give us a dose of you, the one we can differentiate from the rest, the one with your own style and own voice, just know that you don’t have to sell your soul for the upward facing opposable thumb.

Next time you’re about to bare a looksie into your soul online ask yourself, “Will anyone other than myself benefit from this at all?” If the answer is no, realize that your post is just a brag. And brags are ok! Just own your brag and don’t mask your pride, confidence or need for acceptance with faux-thenticity.

Like this photo of me in Nicaragua right now.

I could say something simple like:

My office for the next 6 days or

Time to get to work (and play)

Or I can be faux-thentic and say:

So humbled to be in Nicaragua again to help 6 individuals manage breakthroughs in their careers while also getting them out of their comfort zones. The fact that 6 people put their trust in us and invested in themselves inspires me more ever. I don’t even have words to explain how lucky and fortunate I am.

You can see how the last one is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s not that I’m not humbled and grateful, but those sentiments only need to be told with real emotion in my voice to the faces of the 6 individuals who actually chose to come to Nicaragua. That photo is more about me than anything else.

The true you and the growth that is you is what you don’t share on social media.

As Steven Pressfield says, “We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.”