leeds blogger
bradford cathedral

We all know that social media isn't a true representation of anybodys life; it's a highlights reel, etc. etc. But does that mean that what people are sharing isn't real life? Does it mean that they're not being their true selves online? Being a blogger and following lots of other bloggers, this is something that I think about A LOT. Sharing bits of your life online kinda comes with the territory and as much as I'm all for 'keeping it real', I do think some can take it too far to the point where it's no longer real anymore. I recently read The Authentic Lie by Pandora Sykes about 'seeking an authentic self, in a hyper-curated world', (which sadly was a PoundProject funded essay and is no longer available to buy) and it made me do a lot of thinking and a lot of reflecting.

On occasion, there's been people that I've followed online (bloggers or ~influencers of some kind) and I've seen how they suddenly change what they're sharing and how they're sharing it, resulting in a lot of growth. It can be hard to tell (sometimes) if that was a natural shift or a conscious 'this is how other people have grown their platforms' kind of shift. And when its the latter, I find the whole thing really rather gross. When did it become such a bad thing to be yourself and be unique? One thing that Pandora states in her essay which really resonated "Authenticity has become something to be bought and sold. Dispatches of the authentic self are posted into the empty vessels of social media so that they fill up, like a jar stuffed with Post-it notes about who we think, or hope, we are."
I like to think that me online is very much the same as me offline. I mean, my mums an avid reader/supporter of everything I post so if I wasn't, I'm sure she'd give me a few words! The only real difference I feel is that I come across far more confident online. Because typing behind a computer is the much easier option when battling anxiety.

leopard print shirt
styling leopard print

So what does it mean to be your authentic self online?
To me, it's being as ~real and true to yourself as possible. Sharing the food that you enjoy eating, the clothes that you actually wear and the thoughts that you genuinely agree with. It's not sharing just for the sake of sharing; not following the crowds simply because you want to fit in; nor sharing faux relatable posts. 
In Pandoras essay, she regales on an instance when she saw a post on Instagram promoting people to 'love your stretch marks' while posting a photo of themselves showing zero stretch marks. And it's things like this, a flimsy attempt to anchor and co-opt authenticity in the digital age that ruins it for others. Remember when Missguided were accused of Photoshopping stretch marks ON to their models to seem more authentic in their images? And bloggers taking photos in an outfit once before the clothes are for sale on their Depop, to me, simply isn't them being their true self online. How do we know it's genuinely something you would wear if you didn't even leave the house in it or take the tags off?
People sharing selfies of them looking miserable to show they've had a bad day, because they like to keep things real is a funny one. I want to be supportive and be glad that they're doing so, but. If you have to proclaim your authenticity, is it truly there?

emma copland
superga sandals
leopard print knotted headband

What authenticity online means to me
Being authentic online and being relatable are two completely different things. I hate seeing people complain that certain influencers aren't relatable, because the truth is not everyone is going to be relatable to you. We all live in different parts of the world, with different values and ethics, we earn different salaries and have different goals for how we want to spend that money. So stop slamming people for not living their lives the way in which you do/want to. 
Authenticity online is something really important to me. I don't want to support people who are faking their way to top. I've never condoned lying! 
To be authentic online doesn't mean to 'spill your psychological guts' and reveal a messy side to your life (metaphorical or physical!). You don't need to share everything. You can withhold the bad things in your life in the same way you can withhold the best things. Because to me, that is the best way to be your authentic self. Not curating a glossy social media persona. Keep it ~real by sharing the mediocre things in life. As Emma Gannon said "Choosing not to show the lumps and bumps of [y]our life, doesn't make you inauthentic".

spring style
street style

How it's helped me curate my following lists
2019 has so far been the year of the 'clear out' on both my Twitter and Instagram following lists. I unfollowed those who weren't inspiring me or making me feel good. Those that I got fed up with seeing the same thing from. Those who don't talk about real life things. And it's made for more enjoyable (and informative!) scrolling time. Give it a go!

levis wedgie
Wearing: Jeans, Levis via Next - Blouse, M&S via charity shop - Bag, TK Maxx (insert, The Hippy Rose on Etsy) - Sandals, Superga - Sunglasses, vintage

Loves. Emma.