Could a dose of realness be the solution to fakeness fatigue?
Words: Zoya Pon | Photographs: Anthony Bila, Jessie Exsteen, BrendanPieterse and Taahir Matthews
One question I always ask when I'm privy to a rant of online inauthenticity, is 'if people posted their real lives would we watch?' Be honest. No, probably not. It's natural to want to highlight the best, and leave out the worst, just as long as we know that's what we're seeing. For many, Instagram is a creative hub and a source of inspiration and expression. What we should be asking for is authenticity. A dose of realness could be the solution to fakeness fatigue. Seeing people being themselves, creating content they like instead of doing it for likes, and then sharing what inspires them? That's inspiring.
The number one tip most influencers give for building a following and online presence is to 'be authentic' and to 'be yourself', which is, well, vague AF and easier said than done. So we got three influencers doing their thing to share their tips for finding your niche and then give us the lowdown on curating a bomb feed.
"I think being authentic online is you being you," says Jess, an international model based in Cape Town. It means "showing your audience who you are."
There's a need for a fresh perspective online and on Instagram, where we're experiencing a fakeness fatigue. "It's so damn important because fake life is not in anymore, your audience wants to see how you rock your life in your way." Jess' following are fans of her (growing) collection of what she calls 'sticker' tattoos (small, cute and randomly-placed artworks), style and humour.
It's this type of original content that will separate you from others. "Original content is always best" and your audience will notice, and appreciate that. Don't be fooled though, it takes work. Jess' tip for a bomb feed is to make sure posts are always good quality.
"From location to style to make up to the editing, I've really thought of everything." Combine this with her down to earth captions, and you've got a formula that people want more of. "Just be you. And have fun in life, when you are loving the things you do, your audience will love you for that."
Lorenzo is a digital artist and creative director known for his original style, artwork and overall aesthetic. His feed is a dream, and it happened organically. Lorenzo says building a certain aesthetic "wasn't a conscious decision, more a creative impulse to channel my energy." But being yourself and putting your art out there can be daunting, to which he says, "I still care about what people think, but I don't let that stop me."
Lorenzo's spirit of challenging culture and being true to himself is conscious and it lends meaning to his online presence. "I'm finding it more satisfying challenging culture, than adapting to it," he says. "Part of my work is to present that vulnerability is beautiful. I think it's important to let your true self be seen, especially with online culture being so posed you end up breaking the clutter when you're your authentic self."
His tips for a feed that stands out is to ask yourself what's important to you and what do you find beautiful? Because "what others think or like, will always be fickle and unreliable." Be patient with yourself! A good feed doesn't happen overnight, "it's something you'll always be developing and that's what makes it fun."
Do it for you
Marie's feed is a playful burst of fresh, sea-salt-tinged air that she describes as "a disarray of bikini photos, spontaneous captions and ridiculous stories of myself being absolutely weird or embarrassing while doing things I enjoy."
A look at her stories shows a different aspect of her personality: "I seem like a typical beach girl but my stories are of an impromptu adventure girl that likes trying every sport that has a danger factor."
Marie's online presence is tangibly authentic, and that developed over time. "At first I tried to keep my Instagram very professional (me working on set and being busy within the industry) but eventually I started diverting towards a more fun aspect of myself – the ADHD me that can't stop moving and hurting herself while in action." It was important for her to be 'authentic and realistic' because "if you make others feel like they can relate to you, you create a bond with that individual and you can help them feel less alone."
Other than that, she says "I think being real online is the best thing to do for yourself, in order to not get lost on a superficial platform." Her number one tip is to have a theme and suggests staying true to "at least two of your favourite most-relatable characteristics as a person. Basically, just keep singing like you do in the shower." And also, "no instagram filters, please."