Today’s society is highly in favor of being transparent, of showing every side of yourself to your audience. Social media, blogs and the online world allow for authenticity and support such transparency. Of course, transparency has its benefits, but it also has its drawbacks.
While connecting with each other is possible in more ways now than ever before, we must be careful about the true intent of our transparency. Transparency is not an excuse to look for acceptance in our faults, but it can be a tool we can use to better our weaknesses.
So, whether you are a beginner blogger, big-time writer or a social media guru, here are four ways to prevent transparency from leading to commiseration and complacency.
1. Know your values.
If someone asked you right this second to name your values, could you do it? Knowing your values deters you from letting your transparency about real life problems go no further than commiseration. Your values are your foundation; they are the standards to which you hold yourself. So be cautious in the values you choose to hold. Think long and hard about them. What’s most important to you? What do you know to be right? Defining your values makes becoming indifferent about them rather difficult. If you know something to be right, it’s hard to justify its opposite.
Without having a clear picture of the principles that define your life, you might find yourself stranded on the island of complacency, where the residents excuse their not-so-pleasant character traits by saying something to the effect of, “It’s just the way I am.” Is it though? Or rather, does it have to be? We are all prone to being selfish, ungrateful or careless at times, but making the choice to be the best version of our already present selves is possible, especially with strong, solid values.
2. Stay positive.
Improvement is always possible. If our minds are programmed to consistently try to seek self-improvement, commiseration becomes burdensome and complacency become unsettling. When we are willing to change for improvement’s sake, we inherently block the temptation to commiserate. Instead of looking for ways to make ourselves feel better about messing up, we can acknowledge our faults and move past them — not with them.
Even though it might be hard, being willing to accept constructive criticism leaves room for growth. With this in mind, be sure to choose your friends and mentors carefully. Before you poke around on someone’s social media account, look around on a website or peruse through a blog, consider if this person is someone you want to model yourself after. Does this person have the same values as you? Do you respect his/her content? To some degree, we are all influenced by those we admire, so be sure the people you choose as your community (both online and offline) won’t engage in commiseration or settle for complacency either.
3. Bestow compassion, but block commiseration.
Everyone has a story, and our voices are important. More than that, our voices are influential. If the only reason we choose to be transparent is so that others will console us and make us feel better about our faults, then our transparency is helping no one, least of all, ourselves. Keep that kind of commiseration far away from you and your work. On the other hand, sympathizing with those who need encouragement becomes much easier when we are transparent. To connect with your audience in an authentic way, take opportunities to write relevant content, give sound advice and be a good role model. Live out your values in your blog posts and Instagram pictures so that your readers see you being true to who you are.
You may not realize just how influential your voice is. Even if you think you have a very small platform, don’t underestimate yourself. You could be someone’s biggest role model or secret helper without even knowing it, which is all the more reason to feel compassion.
If the only reason we choose to be transparent is so that others will console us and make us feel better about our faults, then our transparency is helping no one, least of all, ourselves.
4. Focus on bearing good fruit.
When all is said and done, our transparency should connect us with one another. We can lean on others for support in becoming a better version of ourselves. Often times, we need to recognize our mistakes, but more importantly, we need to learn from those experiences. We should learn from each other while also teaching one another how to be a better human through the transparent moments we share.
Consider what you want people to gain from your life. What lessons do you hope to impart on others? Let your endgame matter.
How do you determine how transparent to be online?
Images via Kat Borchart via Darling