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Day 17: Being Genuine in Blogging – How Can You Tell?

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Day 17: Some Public Restroom

Day 17: Some Public Restroom

I like to think that this travel blog is a reflection of who I am as a real life person. Besides the fact I may sometimes hold back on things I want to say, I do think this site as a whole provides a rather intricate picture of your narrator — straightforward, a little funny, a lot sarcastic and a heck of a dreamer. I love it. It’s almost as if travel blogging is just me writing my own autobiography.

You can bet there is the bad, too, woven throughout the list of posts that create this site. If you look hard, you’ll see my faults — yes, I am a person and have faults — and they include being a bit judgmental, overly cynical and emotionally fueled at times. Meh. The half-full-type-of-person would just call that passionate.

This is me. This is who I am. How do you know?

You don’t really, and that’s a big problem with the Internet and blogging. How do you know when someone is genuine when really they can just create and mold a desired perception of their life?

Did you know that I make nearly $1200 a month from blogging? Did you know that my childhood dog’s middle name was “Bogey”? Or, that I took dance and tumbling classes from the age of 5 to 13?

Most of you wouldn’t know that unless I told you, and you wouldn’t necessarily be able to disprove it either. Add in a bit of hype to the mix, a confident attitude and a good story, and you could probably start to believe anything I say.

More than that, I feel like so many people are running circles around networking with as many people as possible to get ahead. All us travel bloggers are promoting and stumbling and tweeting the same group of bloggers and that brings us back to the problem of being genuine. How do we know that what you’re promoting is what you really respect and enjoy?

It’s an issue with blogging in general that annoys me thoroughly, but as long as the pursuit of money is involved, this is the way it will continue to be.

P.s. One of those facts about me is not really true. Which one do you think?

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31 Responses to Day 17: Being Genuine in Blogging – How Can You Tell?

  1. Zablon Mukuba January 18, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    its hard to know if someone is being honest, or they are exaggerating their experiences or they are even lying

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      Agreed. Online, anything is a possibility.

  2. Kay January 18, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    I try to be as ‘me’ as possible when I blog. It can be hard to convey tone and I sometimes find myself writing something only to delete it because it could be interpreted the wrong way. My friends who know me and read what I write say that I write like I talk.

    Have you ever had a really bad comment from some one?

    I once wrote a post about how I was saving for my trip while a friend of mine had her trip paid for by her well-to-do parents. I never attacked my friend, I just simply asked if she understood how lucky she is to be able to embark on a round the world adventure when she really hadn’t sacrificed. The post wasn’t mean or abusive – my friend who it was about even read it, gave me her blessing to publish it on my blog and agreed saying she had asked herself the same questions. The post was only up for a couple of hours before I deleted it after a reader emailed me calling me a jealous b*tch. That one email tainted the article so much I couldn’t look at it and all I wanted to do was deleted the whole thing. My friend (who I had written the article about) has since returned from her trip. She’s now working two jobs and saving her own money to go overseas again because, as she put it, “wanted to know how hard I had to work to get where I am going. I didn’t want to rely on my mum and dad”.

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

      Ugh, a good example of online tone and being taken the wrong way. Yeah, I think I’ve had some bad comments before — but the internet is a big place full of whackos that will pull crap like that.

      I would say that if you can respond to them and show them why you posted what you did without being disrespectful, then a response is a response. Again, I understand how that would forever impact the way you view what you write and choose to publish.

  3. Leigh January 18, 2011 at 4:59 am #

    This post really strikes a chord with me for many levels.

    First, two truths and a lie. I used to play that game the first day of any writing class I taught. Partially as a get to know you game. Partially as a way to show how presentation is everything when it comes to language.

    And I agree with you, if you say something as if it’s true, it often may as well be true.

    I struggle with this a lot, although I admit, less and less all the time. I mean, it would make for really tedious writing if I included everything that actually happened about a particular event.

    I recently wrote about how I’m kind of homeless at the moment. Not the on the street kind, but the kind where one house falls through and we can’t find another so we end up staying with friends or trading websites for rooms in hostels. When I wrote my post about it, I was feeling pretty good. I didn’t write a follow up post about my day or so of freak out a week later. And in a weird way, writing the I’ve-got-a-good-attitude-about-the-chaos-my-life-has-become actually helped me to have a better attitude.

    Great post, Brooke. Definite food for thought.

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

      Leigh, so much good here I’m not sure where to start. 🙂 I’ll jump down to the part where you blogged and it helped you cope with a difficult situation. Ok, I love this, and I probably do this a lot, too. I wouldn’t say that you’re not being genuine by not posting that follow-up because at the time of writing it, you were feeling good. And, I don’t necessarily think that embellishing little bits here and there for the purpose of telling a good story is necessarily wrong per se… I would say the issue lies when people try to gain from it — whether money or some other reward was involved in their decision to write what they write. This topic is definitely a tricky one. I’m finding it tricky to even explain myself 😉

  4. Adam @ SitDownDisco January 18, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Hear, hear. And I reckon it’s the money thing.

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

      I knew you’d understand as I’m sure we probably discussed a bit of this the other night. Stay tuned for my follow-up post 🙂

  5. Lauren January 18, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    I’ll go with the dog’s middle name not being true.

    Great post, Brooke. I think for all of us no matter what, there’s a little bit of covering up. Freelance writing, travel blogging, etc. still involve a bit of game playing, just like in the corporate world (and trust me, I hated it there, and it’s one of the reasons I didn’t go back to it). Maybe it’s the 80/20 rule–if you’re 80-percent yourself, that’s pretty good.

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

      Oh, but Lauren, I want to be 100% 😉 Cheers for the comment, and stay tuned for my follow-up post.

  6. Amanda January 18, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    This is the problem with the Internet as a whole — anyone can publish anything they want, and there’s no rule saying it has to be true.

    As a blogger, I strive to be genuine. I feel like building a loyal following online requires people to like you. Not just to read your stuff, but to genuinely be interested in who you are and what you have to say.

    So, keeping that in mind, I try to really let my personality shine through, no matter what I’m writing about. I want my readers to see things through MY eyes. Because, if my voice can’t show through my writing, I feel like I’ve failed.

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

      Awesome feedback, Amanda. I love your little blog mantra and I definitely agree 🙂

  7. Laura January 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    Food for thought. I think you can get to know someone through blogging to an extent but some for the most part, but some people have still surprised me a bit in person. And I’m going to go with your dog’s middle name really wasn’t Bogey…

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, Laura 🙂 I’ll be doing a follow-up post in the near future.

  8. Jill January 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Maybe it’s because I’ve only started blogging recently and currently don’t have plans to make money from it, but I actually think that the danger of blogging (for the blogger) is that it FEELS so intimate. I know it’s mostly close friends who are reading my blog, so I blog as if writing them emails. The fact that anyone in the world can read it if they’re looking is a bit daunting, but I’m usually not thinking about that as I write.

    As with any sort of writing, there’s an editing aspect involved–no one can present his or her WHOLE self in a 500 word post, or even a few of them–but for me it feels comparable to telling a story at dinner with a bunch of friends: you’re not going to be as candid as you would with your best friend, you want to keep the group’s attention, and you’re probably going to try to avoid offending the present company, but the gist of the story remains the same.
    Either way, even without *really* knowing anyone in this community, I find support and comfort in reading travel blogs as I travel because it helps me to not feel like this whole thing is totally nuts. So I guess I don’t really care if it’s 100% genuine. I read your writing because I find it smart, funny, and I identify with that person and her experiences. If someday we meet in person and you’re nothing like your online persona, we might not end up being friends, but I’ll still enjoy your blog.

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

      Hi Jill! This is really a great response. Thanks for taking the time to share it. Yes, I agree that blogging can be felt as intimate if you’re treating your blog like a journal. I think nowadays people don’t do too much of personal storytelling, and instead they write an article that is cut and dry, focused on SEO and making money. I tend to hate writing like that, but when it comes to financial gain and social media, those seem to be the best! Sad, but true.

      I agree that you can’t show your whole self in a blog post, or three. However, after putting posts up for around 4 years now, I think I can look back and see all the periods in my life (this could be bc I KNOW what was going on…), and that does feel very personal.

      I like the analogy of a dinner party… treating the blog like a friend, and not a best friend 😉

  9. Poi January 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    We’ve met loads of bloggers with been followuing for a while lately and there has some big suprises, everyone has an image of what someone is going to be like, I’m often wrong.

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

      Perhaps those people are just bad at finding their voice in their blogging? hopefully I don’t disappoint when if ever we meet in the future 🙂

  10. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World January 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    Hmm, being genuine… well, we try. But I like reading blogs written by great story tellers, and I’m sure they embellish things here and there. As of their dirty little secrets, or whether or not they’re truly as awesome or dare devils as they claim — in a sense I’ve realized they’re probably not. But I don’t take that personally 🙂

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

      Haha, don’t worry, I won’t 😉 I know what you’re saying… I love a good story. What are your thoughts on embellishing stories when it is done for financial gain?

  11. Sheryll January 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Great post Brooke! One of the things I told myself when I started my blog is that I was going to be as honest as possible. Sometimes it’s scary to let those emotions through in your writing, but it’s helped me get through a lot and learn more about myself. In the few weeks I’ve had a blog, I feel like I’ve grown a little bit more just because I’ve opened up and written about things really personal to me.

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 11:55 am #

      I think that being open can be a really good thing depending on what it is you’re talking about. The more people can relate to you, the better 🙂

  12. ayngelina January 18, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    Goodness if you make 1200 a month blogging please teach me how 🙂

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 11:53 am #

      I’ll be doing a follow-up post on the 2 truths and a lie – stay tuned!

  13. Dina January 19, 2011 at 5:24 am #

    I’m with you. I like the blog content to be genuine. I want to believe bloggers I know are the same people on blog and behind the screen. And since I’ve meet you before, I can say that you are one of the genuine blogger.

    So far we don’t have our blog content influenced by anybody else. I’m probably being selective of what I’m saying, but I can’t lie. I’m probably more shy and quiet in person than in blog though. Public speaking is one of the thing that I fear, and that can include speaking in front of friends.

    One thing bothers me though. I joined a stumbling circle, and it doesn’t make me feel comfortable. While I’m happy to receive links to the travel articles, just like I’m happy to read my RSS feeds, tweeter feeder, and FB home, I feel like my freedom of liking/stumbling is being compromised, I don’t like that. I think people has freedom to like my article that I send to them or not, and so do I to their articles. I will feel guilty if I make people stumble/like my article that they don’t actually care. But when you are in this kind of circle, the pressure is somewhat on. So I have a mix feeling about that. My current solution is “do” it for articles that I actually like. Reply this particular blogger with my article. I haven’t shared my own to the entire group for so long.

    But I want to say here, most of the thing that I suggest through stumbling/tweeting, they are genuine(for now, I can’t say “all”). As for the facebook like, they are all genuine, especially because my facebook audience is mostly friends and family back home, and they don’t give a damn about blogging mechanism.

    Great post, Brooke, now I feel like leaving the circle entirely.
    (man, sorry to make you read this long note)

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 11:51 am #

      No worries, Dina — it is really GOOD feedback and right to the point. I have been a member of stumbling circles and it does feel a bit wrong. But then by not participating, you feel like you could be missing out on some big future payoffs.

      Are the payoffs worth it? Maybe on some financial level, but on the personal level… not so much.

      I know you are a genuine blogger, Dina 🙂 keep it up!

  14. Chris - The Aussie Nomad January 19, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    OK first there is no way you make $1200 a month your so worth at least 3k a month minimum 🙂

    As for the genuine thing well, I think you can to a degree read it in what people write. As well as how they interact with their readers comments, twitter, facebook the lot.

    Some might be really good liars but eventually if you follow someone long enough you can pickup on who they really are. You can by friends but you can’t buy friendships.

    • Brooke January 19, 2011 at 11:46 am #

      Aw thanks, Chris 🙂 And, great feedback on the not being able to buy friendships. I think you can pick up on who a person really is over time, but my concern would be for those that are using their blog + social media to make them money… So and so can say that they make $4k a month, but maybe they only make half of that… and maybe they make it because they said that they were in the first place. haha if that makes sense.

      I might do a follow-up post about my 2 truths and a lie question 🙂

  15. Odysseus January 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    Hey Brooke,

    Of course, you can never really know the difference between someone telling the truth and someone telling a lie, especially if it’s online; however, you can get a good sense of what and who is genuine just by intuition. Pay attention both to what’s being said and what’s not being said. A lot of a person’s personality shines through her narrative writing. So even though I may not always be able to tell if you include a lie or embellish a few things in your writing, I can still tell that you’re a good person in general.

  16. Vago Damitio July 2, 2011 at 5:25 am #

    Remember those guys in high school that told you they were screwing every girl? I believed them for nearly twenty years before i figured out I was actually having more sex than just about all of them…might be the same thing with bloggers…the guy making $100 a month might be the one who is actually the most successful….(or girl) ….

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    […] other day I posed the question of how you know whether or not someone is being genuine in their blog. That post received a good number of quality comments that really deserve a read-through (so get on […]

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