Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Being Authentic on Facebook - So Wrong, It's Right

For this post I thought I’d share yesterday’s events that led to challenge myself and my understanding of what it means to be 100% authentic - no matter what.

The Huffington Post contacted me last week and asked if I’d like to be interviewed as an expert of the psychological effects of social media for an upcoming article. Um…? Of course! I’d LOVE to be interviewed!  What a thrill for any writer!

I did the interview and everything went great. On the topic of validation-seeking behavior, I shared a story of how, a few years back, I posted a Facebook update about how I was having the “worst hair day of my life.” Shortly after I posted this, one of my friends challenged me to post a photograph of my bad hair day. Given that most of my friends tend to do silly things like me, I took a Selfie at that moment and posted it. My friends shared a good laugh with me. The columnist liked my story and concluded the interview by saying that the article should post soon. I couldn’t wait for it to come out!

And then…I got the phone call.

The Huffington Post columnist called to ask if I’d be willing to share my “bad hair day” pic so they could post it in the article. She explained that, in the spirit of practicing what I preach, (she phrased it differently) that it would be great if I could model how to be more genuine on Facebook, by sharing a screen shot of me posting the epic-bad-hair day pic on my professional Facebook wall.

I believe my response went something like, “O-M-G!!! Are you SERIOUS? No, you’re no CAN’T be serious!” I literally started sweating and hyperventilating as I scrolled through my smartphone photos searching for that dreaded pic.


HELL NO! Are you crazy? I look like the Mad Hatter!  There is NO WAY that I’m forwarding a DIGITAL photograph of my Rat-Nest-Epically-Bad-Hair-Day to THE HUFFINGTON POST! Are you kidding me?!?

I did the only thing any reasonable author would do…I ran to the kitchen, took a quick shot of tequila and frantically called my agent, Elizabeth Kracht, for guidance.

Liz gets on the phone.
“Send me the pic. It can’t be that bad.”
“Okay, Liz...There! I just sent it."

::: Long Pause:::

You know those moments when it takes someone a little too long to text back, and you’re wondering why?  That’s exactly what happened, so I texted back “Stop laughing Liz!” I knew that’s exactly what she was doing…because that’s exactly what I would be doing.

In typical, amazing, Liz fashion, she called me back, shared all the reasons why it would be a good idea to share this photo, provided me with tons of validation and support…and tried (not so successfully) to hide her laughter at my current predicament. Dang.

I called my publicist, who agreed with Liz. She said that sharing this photo would be a fantastic demonstration of authenticity.  “SERIOUSLY?”

At times in an author’s career, they’re lucky enough to get featured on highly-respected online newspapers like The Huffington Post, and if their author photo gets posted, it tends to be one where they look nice and presentable… But not Suzana’s! Nooooo! MY photograph will feature me with hair that looks like a family of squirrels could live in it 

“This is so not right Liz! This is SO not right. This is so wrong on so every level.”

But the thing was - as much as I hated to admit it - I did “kind of” agree that it would be a great demonstration of mirroring strength of character and a desire to be completely genuine if I were, in fact, to practice what I preach.

I often tell people that we should not seek so much external validation on Facebook. I really believe this, and yet, the anxiety I felt at that moment was through the roof. “Oh man.” The relaxation and deep breathing exercises I’ve been trained in really came in useful.

I took some time to think about this objectively. Wasn’t I seeking validation, by posting the nicer photographs of myself on my Facebook wall?  Sure. I own that. Most of us try to put our best foot forward in most situations. There’s nothing wrong with this. What I state in my book is that we don’t always have to self-edit and we shouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. And the truth was, it was a hot and humid day the day I took that Selfie and no amount of hair product was ever going to make me look presentable. Therefore, that’s what I looked like. That was…Me. Like it or not.


I called the columnist back, told her that I’ll post the pic on my professional Facebook profile, I’ll take a screen shot and forward it to her, BUT on the condition that I get to share another photo where I’m equally authentically myself…on a much better hair day. - - We had a deal.

So here it is…

Being authentic in some situations can be challenging, but being THIS authentic on a public platform like Facebook, took challenging to a whole different level. Considering how much anxiety it caused me, sharing this post was one of the bravest things I’ve ever had to do – but I did it. For better or for worse, here is the article from The Huffington Post:


I have no idea what kind of response will come of this, but at least I can say that, no matter what, I am true to my words. I can practice what I preach and when it comes to digital expression, even in the face of possible public criticism, I am unequivocally – MYSELF.  

Dr. Suzana E. Flores is the resident clinical psychologist to Prose & Cons and best selling author of Facehooked: How Facebook Affects our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives through Reputation Books.

Dr. Flores frequently presents at universities and organizations, and was recently quoted in ABC.com, CBS.com, Al Jazeera, Esquire.com, Mashable.com, Everyday Health Magazine, Dame Magazine, The Nation, SheKnows.com, New Parent Magazine, Newlyweds, Upwayve.com and Moms.me.

She can be reached at drsuzanaflores@gmail.com or through her literary agent, Liz Kracht at liz@kimberelycameron.com.



Peter Hogenkamp said...

Fantastic Post, Suzana! Funny, enlightening, and pertinent to out every day lives. Congrats to you and Liz on the great success of FACEHOOKED.

Sue Coletta said...

What a nightmare! I give you a lot of credit. I don't think I could've done what you did. Bravo! By the way, I love the photo of you next the bad hair day one. You're adorable!

Dr. Suzana E. Flores said...

Thanks Peter!

Dr. Suzana E. Flores said...

LOL! This was certainly anxiety producing. Thanks Sue.

Eliza Cross said...

Your post made me laugh so hard, and I applaud you for being both vulnerable and true to yourself in how you handled HuffPo's challenging request. Thank you for sharing your story and all of your cute photos! :-)

Dr. Suzana E. Flores said...

Thanks Eliza. It was brutal.

Anna Schafer said...

They drove my reach and engagement numbers down, basically rendering the page useless. -fake facebook likes