Trust and Authenticity

When blogging became a word that led to an industry, the most common words thrown around to define and describe blogging were trust and authenticity.

Where are those words today?

Today, we live in a world that not only thrives on producing fake news, but feeding on it. Instead of rejecting fake news out of hand, our leaders reject the legitimate news sources as “fake news” when they don’t like what’s written or said.

In the beginning, trust was so important that Google adopted a concept known as TrustRank in their algorithm for search results and ranking. It was based upon the theory of six degrees of separation combined with “trust who you know.” Specific sites, and mine were among them, were classified as trustworthy. Any site we linked to or linked to us should be considered also trustworthy. Any site that linked to that site should be considered trustworthy as well, but get closer to four, five, or six sites that link to sites that link to sites that linked to trustworthy sites, then the trust factor was reduced. Websites were determined to be as trusted as possible to earn that respect, and rise like cream to the top.

Authenticity was a part of our jargon because we found in our initial research into what made a blog successful was intricately tied to not only the trustworthiness of the site, its author, and the content, but the integrity of the author, the producers.

We learned that people adored authors with a shared common interest, personal respect for themselves, their topic, and others, and kept coming back for more when the author connected with them on a personal level. Readers felt a kinship, friendship, a sense of bonding through shared experiences.

Commercialism moved in. The hunt for get-rich-quick schemes in blogging, poorly named monetization, led to greedy blogging. If you can’t make money, stop blogging. It ain’t worth it. Find the hook. Find the gimmick. Milk it for the money, then bail.

Then automation moved into blogging. It became easy to bookmark interesting sites you found on the web and have the bookmarking service, with a little JavaScript and PHP, generate a post for you with a list of links and automatically publish it on your site on a regular basis. You could spend a few hours finding interesting sites and tidbits to share, then parse the information out over weeks or months, generating money while you turn your attention elsewhere, away from your blog.

Then the blog echo chamber moved to a new level of low. It was always there, the ability to share and reshare content rather than generate original content. That takes time. It takes energy. It takes creativity. Why bother? Just regurgitate what you find on the web and people will think you are brilliant. The new low was the idea of curated content, sharing individual sites and tidbits as posts. WordPress called a version of this reblogging, taking others’ creative work and republishing an excerpt of it on your site, typically with no original content or thought to accompany it.

Then bots made it even easier. You didn’t even have to search the web for interesting information to publish on your site. Just set up the parameters of interests and let the program do all the work for you so you don’t even have to touch your website or social media channel.

What happened to trust and authenticity?

So little is authentic today. Plastic, fake, knock-offs. Even our food is plastic with artificial nutrients disguised with terms like “natural additives” and “processed from nature.” I don’t even know what that means.

Who can you trust today? Accusations of lies, fake news, and just made up shit flood our mental inboxes. A famous blogger was caught recently slipping in fake news amid legit news, breaking trust, in my opinion, but clearly acceptable to her, and possibly her fans. What’s a little oil leaking into the ocean of knowledge?

As you blog, consider these two words: trust and authenticity. They are still relevant.

In today’s world, I believe that trust and authenticity are differentiators. With such a flood of over-shared, unoriginal, and fake content, let your voice be the voice of reason, the trusted voice, the authentic voice. Let your words be yours, and your thoughts be your own.

You are a unique and powerful original human being. Use your voice for good and for you as you. Be you, the passionate you.

That is the most we will ever ask of you.

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