Can you be genuine online?

(Joe Buhlig) #1

One of the struggles I deal with is that of authenticity. It’s a trust issue. When someone mentions an amazing product or tells a story, I question the truth behind it. There are a lot of reasons for my distrust, but suffice it to say that I’ve struggled with manipulative people in the past who seemed genuine. Combine that with the accepted online marketing practices of popups and outrageous product claims and you have a recipe for skepticism.

So my gut reaction is to question the facts being stated unless the person or company mentioning it has shown some form of credibility. Which begs the question: what does it take to be credible? But that’s a topic for another day.

And if I admit to being aware of my questioning of “truth”, I also have to ask myself if I’m being genuine and portraying myself honestly.

This is a struggle that I’ve been wrestling with for quite some time, especially in my online interactions. It’s too easy to type words that inform someone of the “correct” way to do something and also give off the assumption that I follow the advice given to the letter. In some cases, that’s the truth. But for many, it’s not.

But online conversations are limited by words on a screen. And those words can sometimes be interpreted differently than intended. There are, no doubt, many people who share advice online with an idealistic stance that they truly do follow perfectly in their day-to-day life. But I’d be willing to wager that those folks are the exception.

Most of us are trying to use our words to help others online while knowing we fight the same battles ourselves. But does it come across that way to those reading the words we write? Do our readers know that we struggle with them? Can you really know someone’s intent by reading the words they write?


Regardless, this is a question I’ve been wrestling with this week due to my reading of Stoner. William Stoner has a terrible life that can be summed up as a search for real, human connection. It’s a question I would challenge all of us to consider, especially when you throw in online relationships.

What I’m reading

Stoner by John Williams

For a fiction book, this is having a pretty big impact on me, as you can tell by the above paragraphs. I’ll finish it up later today and I highly recommend it. The story is hard to come to grips with but if you look at the underlying themes of William Stoner, I find it enlightening.

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker

Nothing new to report here on this one. It’ll remain on the list for three to four more weeks as my study of it continues.


No new podcasts released this week.

Books added to the list

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

This book (or rather series) was mentioned by my pastor yesterday. I can’t say it’s something I’ll get to in the near future but the historical curiosity I carry with me has a deep interest in this.

Interesting Productivity Guild topics

Discourse as a GTD Reference Repository

I’m a big fan of Discourse. That should come as no surprise. But this wasn’t my idea! It’s a good one, too.

Analog: What would it take?

I received a LOT of feedback from this newsletter last week. So bear with me if you responded and I haven’t answered you. I’m getting there. 😉

Words That Challenge

“Marketing” just means being considerate | Derek Sivers

Make Tomorrow’s To-Do List Tonight & Other Tips for Getting Sh*t Done



I’m dropping this as an experiment. It’s been a habit now for 30 days. I’ve adapted it to be a time of focus on a single train of thought and that has proven to be a truly helpful practice.

Morning Pages

I’m also dropping this one. I do my pages a few times a week and they are extremely helpful when I can get to them. But this season of my life doesn’t allow me the freedom to commit the large amount of time this requires.

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