So the Christian New Media Awards and Conference just happened. For anyone not aware of this event, it’s about equipping the church in this digital age, and teaches it’s delegates how to make the most of technology and social media as Christians.
I’ve come away from the day not only shattered, but inspired. I attended the conference as a volunteer, and therefore didn’t manage to listen to most of the talks – so the inspiration for this blog on authenticity online actually comes from me physically being a volunteer.
Being a volunteer was hard for me. It really pushed me and stretched my limits. What was it that I was doing that was such a challenge? Interacting with people.
To get to the point I’m going to have to explain myself to you a little bit. I am not a confident person, and I’m not a terribly good people person. I’m introverted. I like video games and listening to music with huge headphones so that I can block everyone out.
So when we were asked as to man the registration desk and be human sign-posts for the day, I was… apprehensious. Particularly when we were asked to be ‘positive, outgoing, smiley and helpful’.
Not my thing.
But yet I persevered and if I’m honest I am quite proud of myself for it – I think that it was a push I needed.
How does this relate to being authentic online? Well as far as I’m aware, online I’m not like that. Online I can be more outgoing and open, more confident. Heck, online I can even manage ”public speaking” through my blog.
You’d never catch me doing that in person.
Online I am thrilled to be making contact with people and meeting strangers, whereas in person I find the idea of speaking to strangers terrifying. Particularly a group of them!
What I’ve realised is that in terms of typical online authenticity – I am not authentic. Sorry. You’re reading fake words right now, I hope that doesn’t disappoint you.
This is where I begin to get confused. Because despite what you just read, this isn’t fake. It’s real, it’s my thoughts put into my words.
Does the fact that I probably would find it difficult to say this to you in person (particularly all of you at once!) make my words have any less weight, or authenticity? NO!
So if online me is still authentic, but not the same, what does that mean?
In another blog post I brought up the idea that ‘online versions’ of ourselves could be MORE authentic than our offline personas. I would really like to be more outgoing and confident, and online I am. Does that make it a truer representation of me? It’s the me I can’t bring myself to be offline, a look at the inner me?
I have no answers – sorry. I guess that another way to look at it would be to say that – as long as there is no intentional deception – we’re authentic everywhere. It’s just that we can express ourselves differently through different mediums.
TL;DR, I have no answers on online authenticity for you. Do you have some for me?
So I’ve been at Spring Harvest the past few days, and for the next few days to come. It’s been great, awesome worship and brilliant speakers.
That was a lot of positive adjectives.
The highlight so far has been the Click Zone, run by Bex Lewis.
It almost seemed too good to be true – a click zone, a zone focused on the discussion of technology and social media in relation to faith – a zone that fits in exactly with this blog?
Luckily it is more than a mirage and indeed a reality, and so I’m going to take the chance to blog about the topics we’ve discussed. Or some of them. We’ll see how many I squeeze in.
First up – online authenticity.
This blog isn’t going to hold any answers, advice or any similarly useful bits. It will just be some of my musings on the topic, influenced by what we’ve heard here at Spring Harvest.
Being authentic online is difficult. After-all, how authentic are we offline? And what does it mean to be authentic?
I would think that most people would describe being authentic as acting the same as we would do in person, offline.
But from what do we judge our authenticity?
Some people look out-wards when creating their online personas, trying to be as others wish them to be, or to fill a social gap. Is this authentic? No, it’s not really a person being themselves, is it?
I guess it could be seen as authentic, in a way. If a person is the type who automatically adjusts themselves depending on social situations, then this kind of behaviour is natural for them. It is authentic.
So it could be said that people can be authentically false… Great. This isn’t confusing at all.
Other people seem to do the opposite, they try too hard to be themselves.
The truth is that we don’t really know ourselves completely, so when people look inward to try and be authentic online, they end up acting how they think they act, which may or may not be true.
So now by trying to be yourself you might end up being unauthentic? Not helpful.
My recent realisation about this topic was that in some ways, you can be more authentic online than offline. That’s right.
Offline, I’m pretty timid, I don’t like socialising much at all, I’m pretty introverted. Online? I like to make new connections, and be confident in what I say and do.
So, my online me is false? Not at all!
I really wish that offline, I could be the confident online me, but I can’t.
Being online removes boundaries that potentially allow us to be who we wish we were. It allows us to project our ‘inner selves’ in a sense.
Is that not more authentic? Does the freedom of the Internet allow me to display a truer version of myself?
I think so. But at the same time, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to see just how authentic we are online, or in any circumstance. All we can do is try our bests to be who we think we are, or should be, or to be the best version of ourselves.
Over to you:
- Do you think we can ever be authentic online?
- what efforts do you make to try and be authentic online?
It would be great if you could comment and help get a conversation going, so that we can learn something from it!