online authenticity

I recently watched the third season of Black Mirror, and the first episode in the season, Nosedive, inspired thought about online authenticity.

Nosedive is about a culture, not far removed from our own, in which interactions are rated on social media. Users are given a score of up to five which they can improve through more positive interactions and popular social media shares. The score dictates your lifestyle. There are perks, like better housing, shorter queueing times and popularity if you can achieve a score of 4.5 and above.

This may be fiction, but the reality is that online ‘influencers’ are given perks, products, holidays, and better treatment based on their social following and online popularity. Bloggers, You Tubers, Instagram stars etc have celebrity status. The more followers you have, the better the offers.

This is a world that I’ve been participating in since 2011 when I set up a blog and opened a Twitter account. I’ve never been hugely engaged in it, but I admit to having worried about whether I’m getting enough likes, followers or comments on my blog.

After watching ‘Nosedive’ I decided I wanted change. I’m not ditching social media or blogging but online authenticity has become a priority.

So I did a scary thing. After nearly six years of watching my social following grow I decided to cull. I’ve started with the inactive, and the non interactive. So I used an app to find these types of followers. The app flagged those who fitted these categories, and I unfollowed them, in the hundreds. It was scary because it meant my following would drop.

I wanted social media to work for me, rather than the reverse. I need social media to be something that enhances and engages, otherwise what’s the point? I determined that from here on in I will only follow someone if their updates interest me. No more polite return follows to keep the machine fed.

I’ve always strived to be authentic on my blog, rarely swayed by trends or popularity, so I’m applying the same principles to the rest of my online presence.

Some things I will not be doing;

  • Sticking to one colour or topic on Instagram.
  • Liking things that I don’t like for the sake of it. If I like something it will be because it caught my eye and genuinely interested me.
  • Commenting on blogs in order to improve my SEO or facilitate return comments. If I comment it will be because you inspired me to say something.
  • Following trends. Ok I admit it, I’ve shared some Instagram doors, and experimented with flat lays, but from now on I’ll only be sharing things I genuinely like.
  • Using Snap Chat or Instagram stories because I feel like I should, I don’t have time nor energy.

If these things genuinely enhance your life then by all means I’m not judging but if I try to join the race I end up feeling like a frazzled failure, so no more of it for me. I don’t want to miss the moment because I was trying to capture the perfect picture and gain Instagram likes. When I’m involved in a real life interaction I don’t want to be distracted by my phone.

My online rating may end up lower but so will my stress level. Hopefully the quality of my life will be higher, and that, in my opinion, is what it’s all about.