Mighil, I think, conflates two different things in this advice for presenting yourself online. The advice cites social media specifically but I want to broaden the scope a bit as I argue that it’s a mistake to correlate or equate the idea of being authentic and that of being unique.
Prioritizing uniqueness means rocking the boat, risking criticism from those seeking rigorously formulaic approaches.
Indeed, uniqueness takes courage. But its rewards far outweigh fleeting “value.”
When we stay true to who we naturally are rather than strategizing generic content, we welcome genuine connections. We also protect our creativity from follower-based burnout.
I’m not sure I believe that uniqueness necessarily means rocking the boat. One can be unique and yet still very much status quo. One also can be unique without staying true to oneself, so uniqueness doesn’t seem like an especially helpful measure either of a life or as a way of representing that life to the world.
I’m also not sure anyone actually can be or indeed is truly unique, and most people only would set themselves up for disappointment should they try to present themselves that way. In a sense, I think we can be real and be different without ever even approaching being, per se, unique.
As for authenticity, alas it’s been recently sullied thanks to the efforts of influencer culture at centering the act of appearing authentic rather than actually being authentic. As a word used to discuss expressing oneself online it’s probably outlived it’s usefulness as it too easily masks a cynical act of what’s, in fact, inauthenticity.
There’s an old Christopher Locke line from the days of The Cluetrain Manfesto (I know, I know): Voice is what happens when you shitcan the cover-up.
I don’t care what that means or doesn’t for brands or for influencers, but it’s at the core of what I seek out when it comes to people expressing themselves online. Really, I don’t actually want people sitting around asking themselves, “Am I being authentic? Am I being unique?”
What I want is to see people writing toward self-belief and being whole persons. None of us is Reference Man anyway so if what we prioritize simply is who we are, that’s all we need. It’s all we ever needed.