True Blue

Go as a River

True blue — loyalty in your views and causes — is an admirable quality.

Blue means more culturally, too. It can mean feeling down.

When I consider this blog over the past year and half — really since I began writing Welcome to the Fifth Estate — I have the latter kind of blues because I sacrificed the true blue of authenticity, and writing what I cared about.

Yes, I was supporting a book. Yes, I do care about social media, but as time has come to pass, it’s clear not enough to write about it every post three, four even five times a week.

During the Fifth Estate period this blog became well-ranked. It’s the fourth such blog I have written or created the strategic plan for that has earned these types of rankings. This is a noteworthy achievement that many respected marketers want and most bloggers love.

But as a writer there is something immensely unsatisfying about the restraints of a beat, particularly one like social media that is well, limiting in several ways. For all intents and purposes it is the limitations of being a trade journalist, and not writing about anything with serious life consequence. Frankly, to become top ranked in social media there is an element of selling out — writing about Twitter, Facebook, Google+, shamelessly pursuing retweets, Likes and plusses, etc. — that is just unpalatable after a while.

I work to find ways to positively impact society via media and communications with as much reach as possible. These are the types of projects I successfully find professionally. Yet at times my social media writing has little to do with my personal passion.

It gives me the blues to thing about what I have done to become well read, and to market. There is a sense of dismay and personal loathing when you realize you have sold out.

I am sorry for this. Not just to my reader, but to myself, for compromising my character in such a fashion.

After all the Google+ hoopla last July, I stopped writing about popular social media topics every post. I also stopped making myself post four or five times a week. The social media expert land grab around Google+ was the final straw, killing my passion for the game.

My rankings plummeted. My love for writing the blog has returned. Writing flows from me again, tapped back into my soul, a river running its natural course.

Popularity may be worth it to some. In fact, it can downright lucrative, if done right. Without popularity and ranking as a goal, this blog can have so much more passion and discuss important issues. It can address aspects of the Internet, media, marketing, cultural and life issues beyond the popular top ten list of Twitter tips. Yes it will be eclectic, but even when the posts are social media oriented (and I will continue blogging about social media), they will be pure, and not contrived to meet a quota of top ranked posts.

This blog in the past few weeks has been more representative of my heart. My conclusion: It’s better to be true blue.

The Age of Authenticity Washing

Two x Two Faces
Two x Two Faces by J.D. Hancock

There have been a couple of recent posts acknowledging the decline of authenticity on the social web. In reality, authenticity as it was preached in the mid 2000s for all intents and purposes is a lost art. Today, we have formulaic gestures, and acts and boasts of authenticity instead of people being people.

Authenticity washing is abound. Whether it’s a demonstration of flair, declarations of being the real thing, and even protests of being flawed, one has to wonder what we’re seeing. Many people claim to be nice in the social media blogosphere while they curse out their peers in emails or police contrarian opinions through flash mobs.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. To say more would not be mindful. The real behavior is nothing worse than the scandals we see played out in the media, and is simply a demonstration of the human condition. But what we are told is not authentic.

There are a few reasons for this decline in authenticity. One is the over-commercialization of the social web. The second is the rise of the personal brand movement. No matter how many personal branders claim reputation based on actions, the practice encourages putting forth a contrived image to the marketplace. In the end, authenticity has declined because people are afraid of looking bad. Courage — the ability to act in the face of fear — has and will always be at a premium.

So the authenticity washing will continue. There is no formula for being authentic, folks. Authenticity is simply being you, good and bad and everything in between. Be you.

In the end, talk is cheap on the social web. Actions are not. Watch what people do, not what they claim.

What do you think about the state of authenticity on the social web?