Minimalist authenticity

Catching up with Sharon Richardson yesterday we got onto the topic of authenticity. It was one of those words used a lot in the early days of blogging. The goal was to "find your voice" and aspire to online authenticity. But what does that really mean?

Some would argue that true authenticity is only possible in "real" relationships by which they tend to mean face to face. Much is made of the importance of body language and the subtlety of understanding even what is not said as we build trusting relationships. And yet, perhaps bizarrely, we do manage to do this online. We do manage to intuit intent and pick up subtle cues.

Little things like timing matter. A too hasty response to a tweet conveys meaning as does one that takes just that moment too long. Saying too much or too little carry subtexts. Sharon shared the example of an organisational twitter account that was just that little bit too glib and "professional" in its responses. Forced or false familiarity is worse than none at all. She mentioned a two word tweet that came across as inauthentic. How can two written words be inauthentic? We all know they can though and it takes real skill and attention to avoid this.

Pick your words carefully. They matter. Even if there are only two of them!