To save you the math, I’m 38, so it’s been over 24 years since I’ve been meeting people in virtual spaces, and I’ll be honest, I’ve had mixed results.
I entered the online entrepreneur space with a hobby business in 2011, and then full fledged in 2014, and in these years, I’ve witnessed a variety of marketing tactics, spouted out by “experts” (those air quotes are deliberate) and watched whether they succeeded, or failed.
In 2016 when authenticity and vulnerability became big marketing keywords, I threw up a little in my mouth.
Brene Brown’s keynotes about vulnerability were widespread online, and people were jumping on the bandwagon. This was the start of some beautiful storytelling marketing… but also, a lot of grossness. Because here’s the thing: if you’re genuinely being authentic and vulnerable, it doesn’t take a ton of fabrication and strategy. You can just BE.
Was it beautiful to see all those make up free selfies? Fuck yeah! But soon you saw a rise in apps that would allow you to tweak your face so that your “natural selfies” looked, well, unnatural.
I saw what I can only describe as vulnerability porn. People were exploiting their stories and their heartache and using it to make a buck. It wasn’t about genuine sharing or trying to help the greater good, it became a ploy for more eyes on their content with an eventual sell on the back end.
I’ve gotta be honest – it fucking hurt.
Authenticity and integrity are two of my governing values, so to spend so much time in the online space and witness these core parts of my being being used so grossly, kinda sorta broke my heart.
And let me be clear: it’s not the selling that’s gross. Selling is BEAUTIFUL. It was the manipulation, the con, the exploitation of people’s feelings to sell – that’s what made me so angry.
At the end of last year I attended an event and saw a speaker I’d seen numerous times before. She went into the same speech I’d seen her give at least 5x in the 2 years prior and then at one point, shared a personal tragedy and I saw it. Just for a second, a glimpse behind the curtain at her heart, and I thought “Holy shit, she’s going to get REAL!”. And she did… for 30 seconds. But I guess that was a bit too much for her, and she went right back to the same old shit, cueing up the same cheese-tastic song, getting women to put their hands in the air and sway and I saw it again: puppeteer – puppets – strings being pulled. I was pissed, and I vowed that I would never attend another one of this woman’s events again. It was bad enough that I was paying to see the same speech 5x, but I refused to hand over my wallet to be emotionally manipulated one more time.
There was nothing about this strategy that was authentic. And we could FEEL it.
We may not have been able to tell why a post didn’t feel right, or why we didn’t really like a person without any reason, but we knew. Because the ick factor sat in the energy. Where once the trips to Bali and the laptop lifestyle reigned, suddenly there was this rise in curated “perfect imperfection” and it was gross.
Why not just ACTUALLY show up authentically?
Not as a buzz word. Not because a coach, or a youtube video, or online course told you to. Just like, you – a regular, fallible human being sharing your journey? Doesn’t that just sound EASIER? When you are the offering, people want to get to know you so they can decide if they want to invest. It’s how you find the RIGHT people. But they can’t really do that if you’re not willing to show up as your real self. And likewise, if you’re coaching them, how can they feel safe to open up and explore if you’re not willing to do the same.
It’s time to lead by example.
To have open, honest conversations – first with ourselves, then in our circles of influence, and in our social feeds. We need to stop playing pretend at authenticity and just show all the way the fuck up.
Just you. Your glorious, beautiful, messy self. Perfect. Whole. Exactly as you are.
It’s time to end Faux-thenticity. Are you willing to join me?
With love and magic,
QUIZ: Find your Sacred Soul™ Song
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