Online authenticity

“Everything is awesome!”

At least, you’d be forgiven for assuming that from a glance at my Instagram feed.

And although I’ve decided that I’m not comfortable with the idea of letting it all hang out online, I still feel conflicted: just how authentic is the story that I’m painting out there?

The issue of online authenticity has always been something of a puzzler for me and was perhaps part of my exodus from social media a while back.

The distance between the real life me and that polished online portrayal has always been the source of some discomfort.

On Instagram, you can either make a conscious decision to be real, or you can choose edited showmanship. I guess I’ve chosen the eye-candy route.

Yes, my work area does look like this – sometimes. But what you can’t see is the sink full of dishes and the piles of laundry just out of shot.

A cliche, but a true one.

Yeah, that’s a photo of me… kinda.

Nice and blurry, so the wrinkles don’t show.

Red tones taken right down so the rosacea doesn’t look too bad.

Sparse patch near my hairline carefully cropped off.

At least Mittens looks good (though I’d have photoshopped out all those stray strands of fur if I’d had the skills!)

It’s all kind of real, but at the same time, it’s just a teeny-tiny snapshot of a far bigger, messier life.

I think what continues to niggle at me is the way our social media feeds purport to show the world what our lives are about, all the while not necessarily being appropriate places to share important, real life stuff.

We can assume that all the pretty isn’t anyone’s full story, but until we know what a person’s walking through, we have little reason to speculate.

Some chose to leave their photos unedited, to share the downs as well as the ups, the smiles as well as the sadness. Some share health struggles and life issues, and those are all perfectly valid choices.

I’m just not sure I would ever share anything that left me feeling so vulnerable.

Which inevitably leaves me with a little discomfort. Because whose life is ever all pretty layouts and shots of their feet in cute shoes?


What are your thoughts on online authenticity? Are you comfortable sharing more personal issues? I’d be keen to hear your thoughts!

11 thoughts on “Online authenticity

  1. Hi, I’m not comfortable sharing anything personal online, but I respect and support those brave enough to share. I’m perhaps too private and should share more…so I do respect you for sharing photos…edited or otherwise it honestly doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned. We all want to put the best version of ourselves out into the world.

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  2. Oh, lots of thoughts about this. I’ve struggled with online authenticity before and I’ve gone through periods where I chose to share the bad along with the good. Bottom line is, like you said, it left me feeling uncomfortably vulnerable. Thankfully I’ve never been cyber bullied, but the potential is always there.
    These days I pretty much only share the pretty stuff on my Instagram (it’s kinda become a gratitude journal) and I’m sharing less and less on Facebook. (I’m not enjoying FB like I used to.) I feel like I’m still being authentic because everyone knows we’re all human and we have our personal struggles. Everybody knows that, right? I don’t feel like Instagram is the place to delve into those things…
    And, complete open honesty here, we don’t owe social media total/100% authenticity. It’s always our choice how much and what we want to share. We own our story! (that being said, if there’s a girl in Colorado with whom you’re starting to feel a little chummy, and want to vent about a bad day, that would be totally acceptable.)

    Tina J.

    P.S. I have these laugh lines… 2 of them… between my eyes… that I can’t stand. I’m not the type of girl to run out and get Botox, so I soften them or completely Photoshop them out all the time!

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  3. I’m like you. I’ve been very cautious as to what I share ever since I started my blog in 2013 and really took creating online content seriously. I’m not one to be vulnerable in real life with people I’ve know for 15+ years, so I knew going in to this online world that would be even less so than in real life. And I think that’s okay. You’re the curator of your own life and it’s totally okay to only share the pretty side of that life. And if you want to get real with your online audience, it’s okay to do that too. I don’t think leaning more towards one over the other makes you any less inauthentic.

    Cause when you think about, our little online worlds we create are just media. And media was never ever meant to be a real true depiction of life. Media is art imitating life. We are the artists of our own feeds and sometimes we just want to inspire others. It’s a way to escape life, as some would say, and that’s totally okay! I think people fail to realize that most times. Cause even in real life, nothing is really real. We are constantly fed things by the media (music, movies, tv, the news, etc.) that often affect us in ways we aren’t aware of. We make decisions and judgements based on those things and live our lives around them. So who’s to say that what we show online is any less authentic to how we are in person? Real life is a total lie as well!

    I totally went off there lol, but this is something I think about often. I guess it’s because I sort of live in this alternate reality where I’ve got a reality show host as the “Commander in Chief” of my country and everyday is pretty much a lie. So why can’t my pretty IG feed be my truth, you know?

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  4. manxbanshee

    I enjoy putting out/ sharing positive stuff (rarely anything about me) I’ve found on Facebook and hope it makes other people smile/ happy as well if only for the moment but the (very) rare times I have posted anything about problems/issues in my daily life I’m amazed by actually how patronising/ annoying/ generally unhelpful most of the feedback actually was – which was both really disturbing and has reinforced a view for me that it doesn’t always pay to be honest. So be as honest and as open as you’re happy being – there are no rules – everyone is different and when you’ve found the boundaries you’re happy with then stick with those

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  5. (Sorry, incomplete thought and no editing features) My last comment was just for fun, but the deeper truth is that we all live lives of revealed layers. My husband knows more about me than my sister, who knows a little more than my kids, who sometimes don’t know as much as my besties, who know w-a-y more than what I would share online or at church… am I being dishonest? No, judicious and pragmatic about setting boundaries so that I can live a peaceful life.

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  6. Wow, thank you all so much for these fantastic thoughts! I was so thrilled to log back on and read them all… so much food for thought – thank you so much for sharing… it’s truly appreciated xxx

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  7. Such an interesting and topical subject. I think we can share as much or as little as we feel comfortable, but I’m sure our online following beyond those who actually know us face to face may not know what to do with too much information.
    I think authenticity is about being real, and not pretending and sharing something of this is often helpful to counteract the ‘perfect life’ image that social media seems to generate. Whether this needs to be shown in photos of piles of laundry or washing up is debatable – personally I love your ‘beautiful life’ photos, but I’m not naïve enough to believe that is all of life. What I do appreciate is your honesty and hope to hear many more of your thoughts and see many more of your creations and photos – cat hair included!
    Bless you for your thoughtfulness and friendly style.

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  8. What a lovely comment, thank you friend!

    Now I’m back in the Instagram world, I am trying to stay aware of my feelings when looking at other people’s feeds – very often, I’ll notice a bit of a slump… perhaps because the people I’m looking up are fellow scrapbookers and they’ve maybe accomplished something I wish I had or created something lovely that I envy.

    I plan to try and make my feed a little more balanced… it can be tempting to make it all scrapbooking related and bring in those likes, but I want to show a bit more balance – even if it is highly edited and beautifully lit, lol xx

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  9. Maria Bejlegaard

    I am not at all comfortable sharing my life as it really is. I would feel so vulnerable if I did. I am sure, that everybody knows, that life is not what we see on Instagram or on Facebook. But some lives are harder and more difficult than others. And sometimes it is good to try and look on the bright side. That is where Instagram and Facebook comes in. It can force us to find something pretty and take a snapshot of it, and hopefully we see, that there is something white and beautiful even in the darkest days.

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  10. Oh, that is so true Maria. I love the points you make here.

    I think I’m somewhere along the middle… what I say is 100% me, but I’m not necessarily saying every single thing, if that makes sense! xx

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