The unseen self 

Authenticity online: are we constructing identities or revealing them?

In the quiet corners of the internet, there exists a silent conversation about the essence of our identity

It’s a dialogue that unfolds, not in words, but through the curated galleries of images, status updates, and the digital footprints we leave behind. This is the modern agora where our personas are crafted, not born. As we navigate social media we find ourselves at the crossroads of technology and self-expression. Here, the art of sharing has become a meticulous selection process. Each post, like, and comment is a brushstroke on the canvas of our digital selves, a self that is often a stark contrast to the one that breathes, laughs, and weeps away from the glow of the screens. 

Consider the last image you shared with the world: was it a snapshot of joy? A moment of success? A vignette of beauty? Now reflect on the moments that preceded it. The ordinary, mundane, and less-than-perfect instances. These remain tucked away, hidden from the public eye. Yet they are as much a part of you as the highlights. This selective sharing is a dance with technology, where algorithms and platforms become the stage on which we perform. It’s a narrative that speaks to aspiration and inspiration, but whispers very little of the true human condition. The question of authenticity in our online presence looms large. Are we constructing identities or revealing them? The technology that enables us to connect and share at unprecedented levels also invites us to edit, filter, and, in essence, mask the multifaceted nature of our true selves. 

As we contemplate the essence of our digital existence, it’s crucial to question the importance of authenticity in this virtual space. Is there value in sharing the unfiltered sunset? The unedited thought? The imperfect self? Does the nature of our online platforms demand a certain level of performance to resonate with an audience conditioned to expect highlight reels? Businesses, brands and influencers are complicit in this dance, often leading it. They show us a world of possibility, a life that could be ours if we follow, subscribe, or purchase. But just as our personal profiles seldom tell our full story, these brand narratives are equally selective. They too are masks, carefully crafted to engage and entice, leaving the reality of the product or service to be discovered upon experience. 

We might encounter people who seem to wear their masks a little too well

The line between reality and performance is so artfully blurred, that authenticity feels like a relic of the past. Dealing with inauthenticity, especially when it’s woven into the very fabric of our digital interactions, requires both discernment and a gentle touch. Here are a few strategies to navigate this space: 

  • Practice empathy: Behind every carefully curated profile is a person seeking connection, validation, or expression. Understanding this can foster empathy, allowing us to look beyond the facade.
  • Cultivate authentic connections: Seek out and nurture relationships with individuals who value transparency and authenticity. These connections often become a haven of genuineness in a sea of pretence.
  • Engage mindfully: When interacting with content that seems inauthentic, engage mindfully. Ask questions that encourage reflection rather than judgement, prompting a more authentic exchange.
  • Set boundaries: It’s important to recognize when inauthentic interactions begin to drain your energy. Set boundaries to protect your well-being, choosing when to engage and when to step back. Mute, unfollow, and block accordingly. 
  • Lead by example: Be the change you wish to see in the digital world. Share your true self, within the bounds of your comfort, and you might inspire others to do the same. 

The digital world is a reflection of the vast spectrum of human experience

While we may not be able to compel authenticity in others, we can certainly cultivate it within ourselves and in our own corners of the internet. By doing so, we contribute to a more genuine collective narrative, one post, one comment, one connection at a time. The technology that binds us also offers a mirror to our desires, fears, and aspirations. Yet, in doing so, it also fragments our identity, separating the person from the persona, the being from the brand. 

What does it mean to exist in a space where most of what is known about us is what we choose to share? In the quiet reflection of our screens, we might find that the most profound connections are those that embrace the full spectrum of our humanity, both the triumphs and the tribulations, the extraordinary and the everyday. 

Perhaps, in the end, the greatest act of sharing is to offer a glimpse beyond the mask, to the unvarnished reality of our human story.

Featured image: lil artsy / Pexels

Tiffany Horan, Human-centered Technology Enthusiast

Tiffany Horan is a globally-minded professional specialising in writing, SEO, and digital marketing. With degrees in art and philosophy, her expertise in aesthetics and cultural institutions seamlessly integrates with her business acumen. Growing up along the Persian Gulf and residing in Taiwan, Poland, Germany, and the UK, Tiffany embodies adaptability and a deep appreciation for diverse cultures. As a Human-centered Technology Enthusiast, she creates compelling content and employs effective strategies. Her experiences in the technology startup realm have refined her strategic and innovative mindset, making her an invaluable asset in driving business growth and success

All articles