On being authentic

In the modern age, you simply can’t afford to be inauthentic. It is too expensive. Not money expensive, but brain expense (choice) and time expensive.

The “brain expense” of choice

The paradox of choice is well documented. In brief, if you have a lot of options sometimes you’ll just quit and “do nothing” because you are overwhelmed. Evaluation is too hard. Do nothing becomes easier. How does this apply to being authentic?

Every time you tell a lie you have to remember two things, the truth and your lie. This makes things complicated by a factor of two. If the lies build on the lies, this compounds geometrically. All of this becomes burdensome at a certain point and you can no longer lie (effectively), it is simply too computationally expensive to keep the lies going. Your brain doesn’t have juice. You either dump some of the shit from memory or take a really really long time (and thus look suspicious).

An anecdote: One I was trying to transfer a bank account for a club I ran. Out of laziness, I just wanted to transfer the account over the phone. I pretended to be the former club president and asked that a new member be added to the account (me). They asked me my mother’s maiden name. I paused for maybe 2 seconds and they immediately knew something was up. (By the way all this was harmless, I just couldn’t get his in person signature as he lived in Seattle and was trying to make it easy for him… a stupid idea though).

Only having one truth is much much easier than having many. This means you worry less. This means you are happier. So really, it is important to be yourself and only have one “voice” to the world. For your brain’s sake.

The time expense.

The form of authentic is a bit of a note on the times we live in. You must be able to be authentic because a lot of conversation is happening on the internet. More specifically this means…

  1. There are a lot more people that can talk to you
  2. other people can see it.

What does this mean in practice?

If you have a staunch calculated brand for your business, you simply can’t keep up with a Gary Vaynerchuck who “documents” his life (or a Casey Neistat or any Web3.0 personality). It is easy for him to just be himself. It is less calculated. He doesn’t tell these little lies (that accumulate) as part of his “brand”. He just knows his values, knows how he wants to project himself, and publishes when something hits the intersection.

This is partly why it is strategically valuable for a CEO to be a personality. Elon can respond quickly, snarkily for Tesla. Telsa PR cannot (really). Simply put, your brands needs a Mickey Mouse and that character better be good at Twitter. If not, you’ll fall out of public grace as “too corporate”. This is just the reality of things.

Crafting a beautiful image takes a lot of time. It is difficult. The Instagram famous do it as a full-time job. And it is a job to look exciting all the time. But it is not a job to look “natural”. So if you can be natural and tell your truth quickly; you will build up a stream of content behind you. And in the world we live in where having ignorable content has zero cost… you want a long stream!

If you are an Apple or a Google, you can have a big downside risk for having a negative message. You have to be more calculated. But if you are small, no one cares about you. You publish in an atmosphere where you can control your own destiny and delete/revise. The big brands are under constant scrutiny and cannot do that!

What this means…

On some level, it means you will be lighter in spirit if wear the clothes you want and swear if you are inclined. You may need to sacrifice these things because of your job, social morays, or otherwise. This just means you have downside risk (fear). You will never truly find opportunities in these little lies that you tell society; only safeties.

“I can’t do that,” someone might think. They have a job to protect. They are part of a community. This just means you have downside risk (fear) – maybe rightfully so. You will never find freedom in these little lies that you tell society; only safety. And too much safety over time leaves you fragile.