Authenticity In the Age of Social Media

November 18, 2018


I do it. Lots of people do it. When you are scrolling through your gallery of photos, you decide to post the most flattering photo or the one that lets you show off a little on Facebook or Instagram.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but what if we did the reverse? What does that mean? What if we posted the most unflattering photo? Or what if we were not so selective about what we chose to share?

What would that look like?

Perhaps its not so much about the image itself and more about our perceptions of the ways it would be received.  Perhaps it is our reluctance against being so vulnerable on such a public forum.

There are many valid reasons for only showing the good and beautiful stuff on social media. Maybe you have a brand for an online business that you are cultivating.  On some level, maybe it is a way to maintain a sense of privacy and personal safety–where the edge of what is presentable becomes the border at which you need to feel more protected and contained.

That is okay.

What I am suggesting is a willingness to be more real. Amid all of the fun vacation photos taken in exotic locales, the food and party pics, adorable baby pictures, and the scenic vistas of our hometowns, what if we could think about how we can be more honest and authentic about presenting who we are?

In the greatest likelihood, this would not be easy for the bulk of us who are not independently wealthy or do not look like a statuesque supermodel or live in a spacious, camera-ready mansion. Why should we only do things because they are easy? Sometimes, exploring our own discomfort can expand the possibilities of what we can do in our lives.

The benefit of authenticity is the personal strength you gain in your willingness to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is power, even though it may not feel that way. That’s exactly what it is. When you are willing to be honest about your life, you are demanding that the world accept you for who you are and not for who they want you to be. There is immense power in this.

Yesterday, my post on social media was a step toward being more authentic to everyone who sees my feed. This is what it said:

“I’ve always been short and almost always in the minority in a group or a crowd. I’ve had problems with acne and the scars to prove it. I have an underbite and a slightly lazy eye (if you look closely). My left leg is slightly longer than my right. I have compared the color of my eyes and skin to the color of poop. (Not my shining moment.) I have many excuses for thinking that I’m not wholesome, beautiful, or good enough for anything, but I’m getting to a place in which I don’t believe any of it. I’m just going to focus on being actively kind to myself and to as many people as possible. I’m going to focus on doing creative work that is meaningful to me. I’m going to let the inside out because therein lies the true value of what I have to give. As for what’s on the outside? Well, I understand that I have no control over the way people judge me based on how I look. I will let go of that as much as my insecurities will let me, and I’ll be just fine.”


After I published this, nothing terrible happened. In fact, I received some lovely and affirming responses.  My world did not implode. My arm did not acquire leprosy and fall off.  I feel fine.

Maybe that’s the point. Quite possibly, the greatest challenge involved in being more authentic and vulnerable is the fear we harbor inside ourselves.

So, just think about it. You can still post all that is beautiful and sweet and blissful about your life, but don’t be afraid to share the less wholesome or less acceptable parts too–at least once in a while. There may be tremendous value in what you learn by doing so.

I move forward now with being more authentic on social media in the ways that I am authentic when people see me as I am in real life and in real time.

Ultimately, the truth of who I am is the most beautiful part of it all.


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