“I asked someone why he did cocaine. He said ‘because it intensifies your personality.’ I said ‘Yeah, but what if you’re an asshole?'” – Bill Cosby
Being authentic, intensified or not, may not be all it’s cracked up to be…
Everywhere you turn, social media pundits herald the word “authenticity” as the key to success in blogging, twitter, Facebook and pretty much all manner of 2.0 communication. “You’ve gotta be real, authentic, let it all hang out,” we’re told. “Because that’s what readers, listeners and viewers respond to.”
So, you’re telling me that if my real, authentic self is a withdrawn, low-key, insanely-bland, disinterested bore and I hang that all for all to see, people will line up to participate in that experience…because I’m being authentic?
Sorry, not buying it.
Authenticity may well be a key to going through life comfortable in your own skin, it’s a touchstone of the way I try to live. But…
Authenticity is not an automatic ticket to success in an attention economy.
Because, if you choose a platform or business building model where a key element is attention, you’ve got to be not only authentic, but significant.
So people like people like Seth Godin, Chris Anderson, Daniel Pink, Malcom Gladwell, Arian de Bonvoisin Chris Guillebeau, Chris Brogan, Naomi Dunford, Havi Books, Hugh MacCleod, Brian Clark and Penelope Trunk succeed because they are not only real, but, in being so, significant to a large enough tribe of people to matter.
And, here’s where it gets tricky.
Because, a lot of people either:
- Can’t figure out how to be both, or
- Won’t allow themselves to be authentic enough to be significant even though they have it in them, because it will reveal way more than they’re comfortable revealing to the public
If you’re in the first category, you may want to seriously reconsider whether you’d want to operate on the “front end” in an attention economy and, if so, start working on ways to become an authentic signal.
And, if you’re in the latter group, make your choice consciously, knowing that what you hold back may in fact have a very real limiting impact on the size of your tribe and your income. Or, an interesting alternative is to be authentic and significant through the shield of an avatar.
This is similar to what certain writer’s do when crafting extraordinary, compelling, authentic, significant content under a pen name in an effort to share their voice and have an impact, while still remaining publicly “protected.” I know it sounds odd to increase authenticity by hiding your identity, but, it can be immesnely freeing.
Look at at Witness Protection 2.0…it get’s the job done.
So, what about you? Are you authentic and significant? Can you be?
And, what about my theory on authenticity not being enough in an attention economy?
Do you buy it? What’d I leave out?
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