the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Indirect and Authentic

(this is a post that is completely rambling out loud with little direction, but I’ve been hearing the term “authenticity in blogging” used a lot recently.  It was even the the subject of the final keynote at a recent woman’s blogging conference, as presented by Karen of Chookooloonks and Brené Brown.  “Authenticity” is one of those terms that makes me uncomfortable, especially because I don’t really understand it, and you’ll notice that this post is a little edgy when I discuss it.  But I am also self-aware enough to know that when something makes me uncomfortable, there is usually a reason I am fighting with it.  So, I hope if either of these two bloggers end up coming here, they don’t think I am being a downer in questioning the idea, but being authentic in taking it seriously, in my own way.)


OK. A “dating” question for women, single or otherwise.   It is all hypothetical, and has really nothing to do with dating, and more about the subject of directness and authenticity. If you’re a straight man, put yourself in the man’s part of the scenario.  Unless you are gay, and then you’re on your own.   Or change the gender.

Hypothetical situation: You’re a woman.  You’re at a bar.  You’re single.  You’re wearing your best dress and sexy shoes.   I approach you.  Or some other studly guy approaches you. But let’s assume it is me. Which encounter would be more endearing and/or successful?

1) Me (indirect and inauthentic): “Sure is crowded in here tonight.  Must be the World Cup game on the TV.  Didn’t realize that there are so many Brazilians living in LA.  You into soccer?…”

2) Me (direct and authentic): “I was looking at you from across the room. I don’t usually say this to a woman immediately, but you have a nicely-shaped ass.  I’m hanging out at this hot, noisy bar, hoping to meet someone, and I’ve picked you out of everyone else here tonight.  I would like to get to know you better. Boy, I am nervous asking you this.   But that ass!  Wow!  Would you want to go to the Chipotle next door and talk?  I know it is only a fast food joint, but I’m a writer and not making a whole lot of money, so I’m hoping that isn’t a big concern to you. What do you say?”

Should I use approach number 1 or approach number 2?

Of course, this is a rather silly example. #2 borders on the rude, even if “the guy” is being more “authentic” in his dumb reason for going over to the woman, and even more direct with his request to leave and go to Chipotle. Why spend a half hour talking about the soccer match when it is all just small talk?


I frankly think the best approach would be somewhere in between the two. I think we need directness AND artifice to effectively communicate with each other, especially in the beginning of a relationship. And I’m not just talking about male-female relationships.

When brands online start talking about being “authentic,” I say bullshit.   Social media is hardly authentic.  We speak to each other in 140 characters. Very few people come out and directly express their motivation.  I know when I write dialogue in a script, the biggest sin is “on the nose” dialogue.  I know that what people say and what they mean are usually two different things.   Sometimes they don’t even know WHAT they want.  Very few people come out and SAY what they really want other than James Bond villains wanting to destroy the world with a solar deflector.

I respect those who want to protect their privacy or business interests, but since when do we call that “authenticity?”  How can there be authenticity when there is also so much selling and promoting.   The very concept of marketing or advertising or “giveaways” involves artifice and manipulation, much like a woman wearing make-up before hitting the clubs.    When consumer product brands sponsor “green” events, they are usually more concerned about good publicity than the cause.   More power to them for doing good, but not terribly “authentic.”  Food stylists making McDonald’s hamburgers looking juicer is artifice.  Clever copywriting is artifice.   I find it odd that as the internet becomes more and more about business and social manipulation, people advancing their careers by touting community, writers feigning interest for connections, more and more people are discussing authenticity. Is it really THAT complicated to be authentic? What does the word authentic mean? Authentic to others? Authentic to yourself?

I once wrote a post about Dunbar’s number, where a scientist theorizes that we can only deal effectively with 150 people.  Doesn’t that mean we are being inauthentic to the thousands of followers we all hear gurus touting on their blogs as a way to show their influence? Why do we want them? If we really cared about helping others, like so many writers like to say, why don’t we just go into nursing?

Here is an authentic advertisement for McDonalds: “Hi there. We are in business to make money. People love our burgers. We know they are not healthy for you, but you like ’em, right? And no one complains when your kids run around and make noise, right? And we are pretty cheap, if you go for the dollar meal, right? McDonald’s. We are authentic (except for the doctored photos of our burgers).

Art can never be authentic. It can strive to be an authentic representation of ourselves. We can be authentic. But very very very few of us  get anywhere close.

By the way, you all have nice asses.

via the fabulous Schmutzie!

P.S.  Just read this post over.  I know it makes very little sense.  And I am using the term authentic all wrong.  Sorry.  My blog.

P.S.S.  Juli from Wellington Road just made an excellent point via IM about the dating scenario that made me see this post in a whole new way.  Talking to that woman in the bar about her ass is just crude,  and not authentic, especially since I would never say that anyway.   The differences in choices  #1 and #2 are about the politeness of the words.  The authenticity comes into play with the ACTION.   #1 could be more authentic if the goal is to get the woman into bed, and this is how I seduce a woman.  #2 could be all bark with no bite.   I might be just shooting into the wind, with no real confidence or adherence to my goal.   My words might be brash and tell it like it is, but I would not be authentically striving for my goal.   The alpha man is not about how strong his words are, but how effectively he takes action.   In the second scenario, it reads like I am trying to sabotage myself.  By acting so blunt, I wonder if my REAL intention is to get rejected so I feel bad, because I am neurotic, or whatever.

I guess if your goal is to become a popular blogger, you are being authentic if you stick to your game plan.  The same can be said if you want to write a novel and are using your blog as a calling card.   I was misusing the term authenticity.  I was expressing the term in the traditional way, where authenticity meant removing the mask in relationships to others.  It appears that the term “authenticity in blogging” means something else — discovering your goal or your purpose and staying true to that path.  It is more about personal journey than community.

Do these two versions of authenticity conflict with each other?


  1. Gwen

    I love Chipotle. Let’s go. And I’m glad you like my ass. I’ve been working very hard at keeping it above my knees.

    (I think I might have something …. authentic …. to say, but it’s after midnight here, so it’ll have to wait until after our burrito bowls.)

  2. Gwen

    Wait. I’m sorry. Metablog week? Did you just make that up? the fuh? Tell me, please, that you just made that up.

  3. Neil

    Real thing. Schmutzie’s crazy idea.

  4. Neil

    Now that I think about it, this entire post in inauthentic because I went around in circles rather than getting to the point.

  5. Philly Jewish Amy

    #2 doesn’t sound authentic & direct, it sounds desperate and creepy. Like the girl will never get to Chipotle, but will soon wake up in his basement.

  6. sarah

    I think what’s most “authentic” about this post is that you are putting it out there & ask the question.

    On the other hand, perhaps it’s a matter of layers–sure, you went around in circles, and maybe you see that as inauthentic (or maybe you’re being a smartass–does that make you inauthentic?), but you also posed a lot of real questions about what blogging is and why people do it.

    Part of the reason your BlogHer session was the only one I enjoyed last year was because it was about telling the story, NOT about getting more readers, attracting businesses & branding, etc. Your seemingly genuine interest in getting to know the blogger through his/her story, not what s/he is trying to promote, is what I like about you. That seems to be what you’re about, at least on one level. I chuckle at some of your existential angst on Twitter about the concept of following and having followers & the nature of blogging, but I also always find myself spending a few minutes about what you’ve said as well.

    And I agree w/ Philly Jewish Amy that option #2 doesn’t sound authentic so much as run-for-your-life scary. You know who approaches someone w/ a line like option #2? Iceblue0925 from Redondo Beach, that’s who.

  7. tiff

    I had sort of thought that the whole blogging thing was ABOUT finding authenticity. Sucks that I’ve been doing it wrong for years. Hey – maybe that why I have a following of jack squat! Too MUCH authenticity perhaps? (say it in a Zoidberg voice, it’s funnier)

    Thanks for this post Neil. Just a tip – approach #1, melded with approach #2 (but without all the overt ass talk) would work nicely on lots and lots of ladies. We all like to be complimented, but not in that creepy stalker-ish way your Penis would start out with.

    Just sayin’.

  8. dan

    I think this comes down to why someone blogs at all. If it’s a money-making venture, what are you selling – a product, or your own self? Some blogs do best by having minimal personality and maximum information, whether it be objective or slanted. I don’t visit those blogs too often but some are very popular. Instead I gravitate to the blogs where I can listen to a *voice* – where, when I’m done reading, I feel like I’ve touched base with a real thinking person. That’s where authenticity comes in for me. Lots of blogs, funny and not-funny, keep me coming back because they are revelatory, they talk about something like a real person talks about it, but with language and perspective that makes me think or makes me laugh. This is something all writers strive for but it is elusive. That makes it easy to pick it out when it happens. And for what it’s worth, I keep coming back to read this blog because your voice is always *your* voice, regardless whether you are saying something or not. That’s not a pick-up, by the way. Just a kudo. (cyber-fist-bump. non-exploding.)

    My strategy at the bar is to sit by myself and use mental magnetism to attract de hot ladies. Instead, I realize at closing time that I’ve spent the last three hours silently grimacing into my beer. My technique needs, what do you call it, fine tuning. But aren’t you afraid the burrito suggestion is too phallic? Oh well, I guess offering to spring for her taco isn’t much better…

  9. unmitigated me (m.a.w.)

    Neil, what’s truly authentic about you is your voice. THAT’S you. To me, anyway. It’s not the content. Neither of those approaches sound like Neil Kramer to me.

  10. Mamie

    I was looking for the ‘like’ button but realized this is blogging not FB and I woud have to make a little more effort. But I do like this and it resonates with how I feel everytime I see a tweet about authenticity. Such an odd concept, that we have to declare it so.

    And I am glad you like my ass but apparently not enough to respond to my invite for coffee tonight. I am hoping it was the vicodin that made you miss the DM and not the fact that it was coffee not chipotles.:)

  11. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    A recurring theme in all your posts is the idea that marketing or PR is somehow dishonest, not “real,” or inauthentic. You see it as all involving artifice and manipulation; you treat it as if it is inherently dishonest and ignoble. It can be those things, but at its heart, professional marketing and PR are like commercial matchmakers. They operate on the knowledge that their product/service is just what a certain person is looking for: the right offering at the right price at the right time in the right place.

    Their goal isn’t to “fool” or “convert” people. Their goal is to be visible and accessible to the people who are looking for them, to communicate what they have to offer, to get the message out to people that will benefit from it. The best customer is a happy customer. The best use of marketing/PR dollars isn’t trying to win over someone who isn’t interested or won’t be served by your product. The smartest investment is to find the people that want it and let them know how to get it. What’s good for the business is good for the customer. It’s not about win or lose or taking advantage, it’s about matchmaking between consumer needs/wants and commercial offerings.

    Honesty, directness, transparency, and authenticity aren’t all the same thing. Those terms aren’t interchangeable.

    You get stuck on people’s motivations and automatically see anything that is “self-serving” as being questionable or somehow unethical, as if looking after one’s interests was always wrong. Motivations are complicated, never “pure.” People give and they get in every commercial, social, family, and even religious interaction. No news there. No shame either.

    The woman with the makeup on isn’t practicing artifice or manipulation. She isn’t “false” by virtue of using makeup. She is simply a Woman with Makeup On, enjoying how it makes her look and feel on a Friday night.

  12. Chantel

    Authentic is a touch act to ask for because we as american’s are socially expected to be everything to everyone. I know going straight for the money shot in writing is a bad idea but I’ve learned that I need to be everything to me and me alone.

    Now that I’m on stage every night I have to balance being myself and relating to an audience of strangers. I do this with jokes built on true premises then twisted into funny punchlines.

    Authenticity exists when I’m in the shower, taking an assessment of how bad my body hurts. Then it exists when I look in the mirror without make-up and make a conscious effort to go do it all over again. When I turn to lock my door and leave my apartment; all bets are off. I make no promises to anyone after that.

  13. Neil

    Vgrrrl, of course makeup is artifice. It’s been that way since the time of the Bible. I am all for artifice. It is what makes life fun and exciting. Writing is artifice. I think there is too much attention paid to the real when it is really artifice. “Reality shows.” Actors playing doctors. PR manipulating us into believing a half truth. Advertisements making us feel that we are “cooler” or “hipper” using a certain product. Like I wrote about in my favorite post, about my eighth grade social studies teacher, Mr. Molnia, who spent a year teaching us about propaganda techniques — “this is going to be the most important subject you will ever learn.”

    I can’t think of any reason why I should trust marketing or PR, or see it as anything other than what it is — PR and marketing. Coke will never say, “You know what — Pepsi actually tastes pretty good.” That’s why it can never be authentic. His job is to tell only his side of the story. That doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary. Lawyers aren’t authentic either. They need to go to battle for their client or the prosecution. The JURY needs to be authentic.

  14. amanda

    We all get ourselves there in the way that works for us, and for every rung you climb, there is someone saying you cheated, slept or arrived their with dumb luck.

    The best you can do is find your way and allow yourself to only participate in the ascension of others that don’t hurt you on their way there.

    I try not to judge and if something smacks of being disingenuous I bolt.

  15. NeCole

    You only like my ass because you know I don’t have any boobs. ;-D

  16. Philly Jewish Amy

    On second thought, given that I just went off lexapro and my libido returned with a vengeance, a compliment to my ass may be all it takes. 😛

  17. sarah

    I agree w/ V-grrrl that make up really isn’t a form of artifice. If it is, then you have to (I think) be of the opinion that clothing, shoes, coats, jewelry, etc, are all forms of artifice as well. And I think that’s crazy talk, personally.

    I would go so far as to say that, in a way, make up can actually be a way to more fully reveal your authentic self. Most people who know me can tell just by looking at me, (whether I’m wearing make up or not, how much, what feature I’ve emphasized, etc), what type of day I’m having and/or my state of mind that day.

    I understand the point you’re getting at if you are looking at make up as a kind of mask; but I think our society uses make up much more as a means of expression than of hiding or misrepresenting.

  18. Heather

    I totally think #2 is more authentic, because there is no arrogance, hidden agenda, or anything else behind it.

    Authenticity is all about presenting yourself as yourself. Not as someone who is trying to represent something else.

    That’s probably simplistic, but it’s how I see it.

    Love your new digs.

  19. sweetsalty kate

    Authenticity is one of those words that, in the context of blogging, should just be benched for a while. It doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s a buzzword. It was doomed to be a buzzword as soon as it was uttered ten times, which feels like it was about five years ago. It’s a platitude. If you strip away the sugary topping, there’s nothing underneath it. It’s like telling someone, “Just Be Yourself!” …. which self? I am not one self. I am probably a dozen different selves, depending on context, audience, intimacy, lack of sleep. All of them are valid. All are inherently authentic and inauthentic depending on my wielding of them. None need to measure up to anybody else’s measure of ‘realness’.

    When applied to blogging, I don’t get “Be authentic”. So, the more I expose, the more ‘real’ I am? Am I less real if I do my storytelling in private? Will I be deemed ‘authentic’ if I tell you about my digestion? My heinous toenails? My secrets? My addictions? My filthy habits? My lust? My sadness? Will this earn me goodwill? I like goodwill. Alright then. I’ll choose something to share that will land somewhere on the **AUTHENTIC!** spectrum.

    See? Problematic. It’s blogging. It’s all contrived, to some degree. That’s the therapy of storytelling. It is fluid. We define and redefine the shape of what we see. That’s all. People who do nothing but review laundry detergent and write giddily about Edward Cullen are being authentic to *what they want from blogging*. That’s all we learn about them. What they want from blogging. I wrote through the experience of the death of my son. Some people can’t bear to ever speak of such a thing again. Does this make me, the former, ‘more authentic’ than the latter? No. It just makes me inclined to write about it.

    There’s also the troublesome reality that when you begin doling out the reward of “You’re so authentic,”, you can’t help but create the trend of reward-seeking. Which instantly deflates the meaning of ‘being real’.

    • Rocky

      “…[people] are being authentic to *what they want from blogging*. That’s all we learn about them. What they want from blogging. I wrote through the experience of the death of my son. Some people can’t bear to ever speak of such a thing again. Does this make me, the former, ‘more authentic’ than the latter? No. It just makes me inclined to write about it.”

      I completely agree with your quote above. sometimes i need to purge my thoughts, sorrows, struggles by writing them out. For me, the writing is therapeutic, but having someone read and acknowledge their visit gives me some sort of validation. Being heard is important to me, so I guess that’s my ‘being authentic’, my true motivation for blogging.

  20. giftsofthejourney (Elizabeth Harper)

    Authenticity is not always neatly wrapped up in a pretty package … not in my world at least. To only blog about the sweetness would paint an incomplete picture and therefore be a false representation of my story which is what I mean to share.

    Beyond that, I agree completely with Dan’s first paragraph in his comment above. I’m taking the lazy way out after leaving a lengthy comment over at your ” used a lot lately ” link to Stephmodo’s blog post on authenticity.

  21. Danny

    Fascinating post, but I agree with the commenters, especially V-Grrl, that you’re mis-using the word “authentic.” I don’t think being authentic necessarily means saying exactly what you’re thinking at any given moment. It IS all about “voice,” even though I hate that word, too! To a large extent, authenticity is in the eye of the beholder. If you tried to come across as something other than what you are, we’d smell it from a mile away…and leave in droves. Yes, the “truth quotient” in your posts is sometimes quite low, but that doesn’t make your posts less authentic! If I tried to write about my talking penis, for example, just to get as many readers as you have, it would be inauthentic, I could never get away with it. So I drone on about the crazy topics that I want to write about. I don’t think authenticity in blogging is necessarily about exposure, but it is about being true to yourself. Oy, I see what sweetsalty kate is saying, all of these terms are ruined–they sound so cliché! But I am still for authenticity–just not necessarily the “truth!”

  22. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios


    There’s no substitute for critical thinking.

    Don’t expect journalism from advertisers. We don’t look to Coke to tell us how Pepsi tastes. Just because Coke isn’t talking about Pepsi, doesn’t mean its being “deceptive” in its communications.

    Maybe Mr. Molina was engaging in a bit of grandiosity and self-promotion when he said, “This is going to be the most important subject you will ever learn.” He was building his brand. ; )

  23. Karen Maezen Miller

    I agree with you. “Authentic” is just one of those . . . what do you call it? Oh yeah, a word. Nothing to talk about.

  24. Neil

    Danny. what you wrote sounds self-limiting, as if your brand becomes your identity, or as if people are hiding behind authenticity as a way to not fail. The truth is I would jump out of my chair if you wrote a post talking to your penis. It would not seem inauthentic to me. I have written many posts where I have tried to imitate your style, combining pop culture and the personal, and failed. I think of that as growing and expanding. I still think back to that mess of a post about me with that girl in the car in high school. I am convince that the “power” of the piece was not in the words — it was a quickly-written post, almost a throw-away, but that I wrote it — that I dared to expose this “dark” side to my generally easy-going personality. People read crazy stuff into it. People unfollowed me. There are still several who haven’t spoken to me since then. Was the post authentic? In some ways. In other ways, it was partly fictionalized just because I didn’t remember the incident that well. When I tried to change the dialogue, people got upset, as if I was changing history — and I wrote the dialogue! Everything is authentic and not authentic in equal parts. I think I should define what is authentic to me… not how others see me. I know you in real life, Danny. I would not see it as inauthentic if you wrote something completely different, even if it bombed.

    I also find myself writing for different reasons. Sometimes I actually do write a blog piece hoping to get a lot of people reading. This post is more of a rant, poorly constructed. Sometimes I really do write just for myself — and I laugh at the fact that you suckers are reading it too. Sometimes I am angry at everyone. Sometimes I love my readers. Frequently I am writing a post for just one person, almost a love letter that I am too embarrassed to send to the person individually.

  25. Neil

    Karen — oh, what you believe opens up a whole different Pandora’s box!

  26. Juli Ryan

    I love the recurring conflict on your blog between the “Citizen of the Month” and your horny, neurotic (and sometimes unreliable) other self.

    I would rather read about someone who tries to remove his masks (or airs his dirty laundry) than anything written by a Pollyanna. Even if the Pollyanna is authentic.

    P.S. Thanks for making me sound so existential.

  27. NeCole

    Pardon me Neil, but Danny said something that captured my full attention.

    Danny–Is that a ventriloquist act you do with your penis or is it…hmmmm…by chance a “magic” penis????

  28. mamie

    i came back to read s/s kate comment after seeing her tweet….and then i read them all. i think i like karen’s a lot. it goes without saying that i pretty much always love what kate writes. and i think i will keep revisiting just to see where this all goes in the comments. you know how to make ’em talk, neil.

  29. Danny

    NeCole, it’s Neil who is the master of the Talking Penis, not me! And I guess that was a bad example, Neil, because I didn’t mean to say that I wouldn’t want to challenge myself in my writing–I just meant that I wouldn’t want to write something that I wasn’t really into just to try to get a bigger audience. But I am suddenly very confused by the idea of “authenticity” and think that I hate the concept. I just know it doesn’t mean you have to disclose things you don’t want to and it doesn’t mean you have to tell some woman in a bar that you want to sleep with her!

  30. Neil

    Yeah, I’m still a bit confused too. Maybe shouldn’t think too much about it. Especially since I am very fond of humor bloggers. I’m not sure if I can categorize them as being completely inauthentic or the most authentic. Or if it matters at all. Some outrageous blogger can be a shy person. Which is the authentic one?

  31. sweetsalty kate

    Neil, I’ve met outrageous and hilarious bloggers who are, in person, very shy. It’s never made me question their authenticity. It’s only made them more interesting to me.

    Just came back to say that my comments here and my post that followed were not informed by any sort of awareness of writing or speaking on the topic by Karen or Brené – none of my thinking on it is in the spirit of any sort of rebuttal. I’ve seen the word applied to blogging for ages – sometimes in reference to me, in addition to the word ‘courage’, which is its cousin. And it’s always made me feel bullshitty, to accept that (well-intentioned) approval, or think that of myself. I can’t imagine ever sitting back and feeling good about my own authenticity, unless I were a fossil. Or an important document like the declaration of independence. Or an expensive watch.

  32. sage

    art imitating life – life imitating art imitating life? i think if youre going to write about authenticity you also have to consider integrity. im confused technologically and theologically and admire your blogging as of late. many of us, have no breaks, some people just write and post the things they like or dislike and join other groups and communities that support those likes & views. i miss the old days when we connected on bbs boards. personally, a man’s chances of using a pick up line successfully depend on so many other factors. i say be yourself and add in a splash of originality,honesty & humor.the worst that happens is you make a new acquaintance.

  33. Deb Rox

    One of the problems with the concept of “authentic self” is that it has become fetishized and commodified as though it is something to be attained or achieved, whereas I think it actually is an absence of inauthenticity, nothing more or less. Worse, it is impossible to force authenticy to match anything, including our own idea of it. If we went to Paris and wanted to go to an authentic Parisian cafe, we probably wouldn’t be satisfied with a cafe that is a run-of-the-mill, everyday cafeteria in the basement of a state office, where thousands of authentic Parisians take their afternoon coffee quite authentically. We would probably have a nostalgic idea in our head of what a Parisian cafe IS, based on stories of writers in the 20s and post-war movies and who know what else. THAT would feel “authentic.” I see a lot of people trying to match an imagined ideal of what an authentic person sounds like/writes like/looks like/ but I don’t know if you can try. You can only try to remove what is inauthentic, and see what remains. But who knows?

  34. sweetsalty kate

    Deb Rox, will you marry me? (gets down on one knee with audible creek)

  35. sweetsalty kate

    What I mean is that I am proposing to Deb Rox next to a creek that bubbles audibly. Which makes it more romantic. SO THERE.

  36. Neil

    Deb –

    You are also the perfect person to ask about humor. Authentic or not? My real life is kinda messy right now, more about death and dying than anything amusing. But at the same time, I write tweets to Canadian women about their beavers. Online, I am considered “funny,” but I don’t consider myself funny. Are you or the Bloggess being authentic when you write something humor based? Of course you are. And you are authentic when you don’t.

    Actually, the best thing for my writing is to learn to write in different voices so I can have characters that speak differently. I’ve tried a few times to post as if it was written by a woman — and it usually failed, because I guess if felt inauthentic. But I would like to perfect that voice that isn’t me, until it is so inauthentic that it fools you into thinking it IS authentic.

    Then I will be a writer!

  37. ingrid

    Authentic Schmauthentic.

    I don’t think blogging is about rules or a quest to find the right way to blog. I feel like this exercise results in different self-righteous camps and/or insecurity.

    I have the feeling that a lot of discussion ends up as a quest to define “the 10 commandments of blogging” … but not matter how much you light bushes on fire and wait for that booming voice, you will always have different voices.

    I think blogs, quite simply, reflect the people that write them. It reflects their motives, attitudes and beliefs… their view and experience of the world and what is/isn’t important to them. Those differences are precisely why they are wonderful. Even the artifice reflects a belief– “I won’t be acceptable unless I write this way” or “I will impress people if I write this way”.

    We’re human: flawed, confused, happy, sad, mixed-up, lovable, detestable, sleezy, sweet, delightful and hateful.

    My own belief is that blogging is not a flat playing field anymore than novels are. I love to read something trashy and artificial on vacation: it frees me from real life worries and it suits my expectations. Similarly, if I want my heart to soar or weep, I love Anne Tyler or Alice Munroe or Richard Russo…

    We need to be critical readers and blogs need to be just what they are. What that person has chosen it to be. Sure there are probably a million “best practices” for different types of blogging and different intentions behind blogs… but I’m dousing my burning bush. (And now I’m laughing… because I have a dirty mind…)

  38. Major Bedhead

    I don’t know that anyone can be authentic when you put another person in the picture. You are always adjusting to the emotion or context of whatever situation you’re in, which, by default, is inauthentic. Everyone wears a lot of hats – work, home, parent (if you are one), child, friend, customer, blogger, commenter. And every one of those hats has a slightly different (or sometimes drastically different) personality, thereby removing some small portion of our authentic self.

    Jesus, my head hurts now.

  39. BHJ

    Being authentic is so mid-last century.

  40. Patricia

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t expect people to be too authentic in a bar. If you are attractive (shoot me – it’s a bar. I’m shallow), have a sense of humor, and don’t bore me, it’s all good – authentic or no.

    As for blogging personae: are we actually who others think we are, who we think we are, or who we think others think we are?

  41. Rita Arens

    I am so confused. I thought you used “authenticity” just fine. Perhaps I’ve missed a chapter in this whole discussion. I think you can authentically lie, for the record. If you’re a liar.

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