Are We Truly Transparent and Authentic on Social Media?

Weekend Sunshine In social media, we are always told to be transparent and authentic, but are we truly that? This question has been on my back of my mind for sometime now and I thought it was time to write down some of my thoughts on the matter.

Working for a company that deals with Public Relations, Investor Relations, communicators and marketers that work at some big brand named companies, I usually have to think twice about what I comment when it comes to their brands. Some of my clients follow me on Twitter, some are friends on Facebook, some even are on Google+. Do I post my dislike on social networks for a bad experience I’ve had without hurting my relationship with my client? Am I not being transparent or authentic if I say nothing online?

Also a last year I had to rush back to Toronto as my mother had suffered a stroke. I didn’t really say much publically about the matter and had fought long and hard to even write a blog post about it. Should I have kept it to myself and not said anything? Though some of my closest friends from online knew what was going on I struggled to get a post out, but I thought it would have been good for my own healing after that stressful time.

We’ve also heard about people being fired from their jobs for posting comments about their dislike about their job conditions or fellow co-workers. I for one keep those comments private and I don’t personally think they should every be shared publicaly. I also make it know who I work for and never hide that fact.

At the end of the day I think it’s important to know yourself and know how much you want to share publically. Once you established these boundaries for yourself I think you can truly say you are being transparent and authentic to the level you are most comfortable with online.

Do you think you are transparent and authentic? Do you think that there is a boundary as to how much you should actually make public?

2 Replies to “Are We Truly Transparent and Authentic on Social Media?”

  1. My issue with transparency is not as much with the personal stuff. That’s privacy. You can be authentic without having to be fully transparent with your personal life. That’s where being private comes in (e.g. last year, with your Mom’s medical condition). My issue with transparency comes with the lack of disclosure. I can see easily through smoke and mirrors when somebody is in cahoots or associated or promoting someone else, even if they don’t fully disclose that they are business partners, associates, etc.

    To me, disclosure is a very important part of blogging, and it’s definitely related to transparency and authenticity. I always tell what I think online, even if sometimes I have to eat my words later. That has also earned me a number of enemies (some of whom disguise themselves as my ‘friends’, too). But that’s ok. I know the difference really quickly, and the beauty is when somebody doesn’t know that I know that they don’t like me, even though they treat me as though they do. That’s also a lack of transparency on their part, and of authenticity.

    The people I tend to like the most, contrary to what other people may think, are those who authentically dislike me and tell it to my face, transparently (other than, of course, my friends – who also have the transparency and authenticity to tell me when they think I’m doing something wrong). At least we all play on a level field there.

    As for brands, I think authenticity and transparency are key. As I said, I know exactly the game that people play online in social media, and I know how to play the game in such a way that if need be, I’ll uncover those non-disclosed ties and expose them. Too bad, so sad.

    Great post, Gus – and thanks for bringing this up. And sorry for writing a comment that is almost the size of the blog post.

  2. I think there’s a difference between transparency (being honest about conflicts of interests, etc..) and saying EVERYTHING on social media. I doubt you would go screaming on the streets that your mother is sick, and no one expects you to do the same in social media.

    As for authenticity, now that’s another whole can of very tangled worms. What does it really mean? It means being true to oneself, I suppose, but then we all wear a variety of masks–the partner, the colleague, the friend.

    Authentic also means “real”, in a sense, but what is real? We’re all determined by a variety of factors, a lot of them external to us (culture, ethnicity, politics, economics, etc.) How much these external factors influence the development of personality, tastes and likes is a matter for sociologists, psychologists and literary people (yes, we study stuff like that).

    Raul has it right for the blogging world, where his transparency and authenticity have made him the respected blogger that he is. In the end, I think that being transparent and authentic simply means cultivating an online persona that’s close to your work or social persona, depending on why you tweet or blog.

    I find that the advice “be yourself” is difficult to follow, as there are many different facets to my “self”. The one I choose to display on twitter and my blog, though, is one that I believe in and recognize, not something made up just to seem more interesting or entertaining. Well, at least I hope that’s what I’m doing, because otherwise it’ll come crumbling down very quickly.

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