True Self vs Social Self

In today’s world, distinguishing between what’s authentic and what’s fabricated, especially in the realm of social networks, has become increasingly challenging. The paradox of authenticity and social media is further magnified by the ease of content creation via AI. I'm convinced that genuine authenticity finds its truest expression in closed communities.

The true meaning of authenticity

Once, one of my professor at IMD mentioned an idea that stuck with me:

Your closet is the most genuine reflection of yourself.

It's where we are truly alone with ourselves so we don’t care of what other people think. Outside of that space, we inevitably adapt, molding ourselves to fit into the surroundings. No matter how hard you try, you will never be your authentic self anywhere else.

Impact of the social networks

Social platforms have this uncanny ability. They scale us, pushing us to be likable on a grand scale. By their very nature, they don't showcase our authentic selves. Instead, they reflect what we believe others will appreciate about us at large. The more likable you are, the more followers you have; the more followers you have, the more unauthentic you need to be. It’s a flywheel that is very hard to break.

As Cory Zue astutely pointed out in his piece on authenticity and engagement: To grow, you need to be noticed. To be noticed, you need to stand out. And standing out often leans towards inauthenticity." This is a flywheel tha tis hard to break

AI-driven, mass-produced, generic content only exacerbates this cycle, making genuine content harder to discern.

Your personal brand

In the modern age, businesses thrive on personal connections, not just corporate branding. Increasingly, the individual behind a brand dictates our relationship with the product or company. Personal branding, thus, has taken center stage. It's not just for solo-entrepreneurs or indie hackers; everyone needs to sculpt their brand. Many companies even encourage their employees to cultivate their personal brands.

Your personal brand hinges on three pillars:

  1. Your core values
  2. Your story
  3. Your distribution

Balancing these elements is crucial, and mastering all three without compromising any can be challenging. Check the 7 step process to foster your personal brand shared by the Harvard Business Review.

I recently tuned into The Bootstrapped Founder podcast where Erica Schneider discussed the significance of an authentic personal brand. It's a must-listen for anyone striving to maintain authenticity online.

Closed Communities

One alternative to the broad social media are the closed communities. These communities are usually focused on niches and people tend to align more on a common interest. In these tight-knit groups, we feel more like ourselves. It's not about numbers but genuine bonds. Yet, these groups have limits. They can't grow endlessly, and balancing time between them is hard, making us return to big platforms often.

WIP is one of such smaller communities where makers share their work and life. There I am following several solopreneurs and indie hackers. The account that I like the most is the one from Peter Levels. He shares a lot more there and more authentic than on twitter for example. He shareshow he builds his products, snippets of code, issues he face, tasks he is solving, but also his closer to authentic version of his life, gym, chilling times, shoppingetc.

WIP

I'm convinced that the future of authenticity lies in these closed communities. We should aspire to be genuine in public too, but it’s a tough feat.

Some communities I am enjoying being part of:

My efforts in keeping authentic

I've always valued authenticity. It's been a guiding principle in my personality. And perhaps that's why my online growth has been moderate. The allure of rapid growth is tempting, but I constantly remind myself of the importance of genuine interactions. It's a tightrope walk, balancing authenticity with the desire to connect with a larger audience. But it's a challenge I embrace, hoping not to fall too deep into the trappings of curated personas.

Conclusion

In this digital era, staying true to oneself is both a challenge and a necessity. Yet, the push for personal branding and audience outreach often places growth above authenticity. Staying genuine is tough, but with effort, it's achievable!

My approach to authenticity includes:

  • Avoid sharing generic fluffy content that attracts anyone
  • Engaging with genuine, personal insights and thoughts
  • Actively participating in closed communities for genuine interactions

If you enjoyed this, consider sharing it on X, discussing it on Indie Hackers, or subscribing to my newsletter to stay updated on my future reflections and insights.

Are you authentic here on X? I am not! Distinguishing between what’s authentic and what’s fabricated, has become increasingly challenging. AI has only worsened this feeling. I'm convinced that genuine authenticity finds its truest expression in closed communities like WIP…

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