Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Social Media and the Problem with "Authenticity"

I found the responses from boyd & Marwick's study of Twitter absolutely hilarious.

  • "when I tweet, I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately. Pure expression of my heart." (7) Wow, it only took this person 65 characters to make me barf!

Seriously, though, I don't think that there is very much content on Twitter that consists of more than #whyiloveselenagomez and other fodder for E! TV's "The Soup." Authenticity? I am doubtful.

It reminded me of an incident I had the other day regarding a young man--who, for the sake of his reputation and my outpouring of mercy shall remain anonymous--who had posted a photo that I recognized as a photo from the popular site Passive Aggressive Notes. The thing is, he posted this photo (and then proceeded to respond to comments from his friends) as though he himself had taken it. I, acting as the distributor of online vigilante justice, posted the link to the original photo on the blog and nothing more on his post.

Not surprisingly, he removed my link the next day. But not before I took a screenshot of the whole incident. Again, showing mercy, I refrained from posting it to FAILblog.

But it goes to show the very feeble attempt at "authenticity" that social media offers. I mean, how truly open and honest can one be in 140 characters (even if they're not stealing a photo from a joke blog)?


  1. When you bring up "authenticity" I think of the final paragraph in the Castells reading where he writes,
    "the public mind is constructed by networking minds, such as yours. Thus, if you think differently, communication networks will operate differently, on the condition that not only you, but I and a multitude choose to build the networks of our lives" (p. 432).

    This quote and your post about authenticity just directed my thoughts towards the conflict between an individual's public and private self.

    My private self is EXTREMELY boring compared to the self I try to create for the public. Yet, my public self is the authentic representation of the person I wish my private self would be. ha. I don't now what Im saying.

    I guess through a person's "fakeness" so to say, you can also get an idea of their authentic desires or selves, especially when you experience (like you did Betsey) someone trying to imitate someone or something, or claim as their own something that isn't theirs.

  2. Betsey, good for you! I see posts where people post quotes but do not credit the author. Drives me crazy but I have never called anyone out. There would be graceful ways to do it if I took the time.

    I agree with you about the lack of online "authenticity." I believe many of my friends, most marketers, carefully, painstakingly, craft their Facebook accounts. They may be authentic in the sense that events really happen, that the photos are of their family but nothing negative or unattractive or unsuccessful ever happens. It is all good, literally. How authentic is that? Their Facebook page is them presented as a product.