A man I know told me a story, “Someone on the Internet — someone who had been his friend for a year — wasn’t a friend, but an enemy who had taken on a new identity. The pretender said he had done it to get another chance at a friendship with the man who told me the story. The man asked me what my response would be.
The first word I said was “transparency.” I remember my frown before I went on. “No. That is the reason that authenticity and transparency are valued so highly on the Internet. They are our word. They are the bond. Without belief in authenticity and transparency, we couldn’t interact, because we couldn’t trust.”
I explained how the opposite happened to me.
When I was a new blogger, a friend of five years turned pretender. She visited my blog, day after day, with a new identity, making long conversations in the comment box. At day 8, familiar phrases crept into what she said, and I started to suspect. When I confronted her, she was simultaneously emailing me and commenting on my blog as her alter ego. Her excuse was that she wasn’t a blogger and that she didn’t know better.
Even supposing no ulterior motive, I deserved a friend who had better judgment than to visit my house dressed up as pretender. Forgiveness was a given, but all trust was gone.
In January, Darrnen Rowse wrote this about transparency in building a great blog.
. . . Great blogs are blogs that leave no question of their motives, who their partners and affiliates are, and who their authorship is. Transparency means that no matter what the blog is about, the readers know what they’re getting into. Because transparency is really about trust. Great blogs have earned the trust of their readers through their posts, their opinions, and their engagement. But they are also not misrepresenting themselves, or the reason why they’re blogging in the first place. At the end of the day, trust is the only real currency in the blogosphere, and people who read blogs have the expectation that they’re getting at the truth — in whatever form the truth is to them. And because there is the presumption of truth, readers will often react in an intense fashion to being manipulated, hoodwinked, and otherwise bamboozled.
The same rules apply for bloggers and for readers.
Bloggers and readers who are transparent leave no question about their motive, no suspicion of a hidden agenda. They speak with credibility and authenticity, in large part because of their transparency.
Because can’t see the eyes of another, because we can’t hear their voices, or watch their body language, we rely on an agreement to be transparent. Authentic transparency converts almost immediately intro trust.
It could be argued that trust runs the Internet.
Liz Strauss writes about with authenticity and transparency, and a variety of words she knows at Successful-Blog.