Imagine, if you will, the following scenario.
You’re walking your way through Twitter and the blogosphere when someone you like and respect a great deal sends you a direct message.
“Hey, I have this ticket to that huge expo you wanted to go to. I’m not going to use it. Do you want it?”
Well, you jump at the chance. You know that the ticket probably was a major investment for someone – your friend, or maybe a friend of your friend. You go to the conference and you have a fabulous time. You’re really grateful.
A couple of months later, that same friend sends you a second direct message. “Hey, I just got my book published. I’d love for you to read it and write a review. Be honest!”
Let me ask you two questions.
First, are you going to mention that this person gave you a ticket to that conference a couple of months back?
Second, are you going to say anything acutely negative about the friend’s book?
The conundrum is transparent
This seems to be to be a pretty quintessential example of the “can’t win” scenario.
In the interest of being transparent, people sometimes treat their blog posts like mini confessionals. “Oh, and I talked to this person in the street on May 27th, but now I’m just quoting them. And this person loaned me a quarter for a vending machine five years ago, but I’d have liked their book anyway. And this person I have talked to in real life on at least 3-4 occasions, but I still highly recommend you attend their webinar.”
People expect these kinds of confessionals in Social Media because one of the first things you hear when you go online is “be transparent.”
However, this also creates, at least in my mind, an issue of just how authentic we can really be online. It makes me wonder if people do nice things in this space so that you can owe them a solid later. It makes me wonder if you REALLY are being honest when you come clean about your friendship with an author and then in the next paragraph tell me why I should buy 17 copies of your friend’s book.
Let’s say that you’re doing another book review for a friend of yours (your friends are very accomplished!). You start out by saying that you both work for the same company, your boss supported the book, you wrote the forward, and you got a free copy long before it was released to stores.
What is the incentive for anyone to keep reading? With everything you just became “transparent” about, what are the chances that you’re going to go on to bash everything about the book? I’d say slim to none. In fact, I stop reading.
A real life scenario
This has been on my mind for a few reasons. I’ve encountered a lot of blog posts lately that have me concerned about how genuine some content really is. Are you bashing that person because you REALLY think they’re crap, or is it maybe because every time you do that you get 57 comments on the post? Are you raving about that book because you REALLY think it’s amazing, or is it because of all of that stuff you just “came clean” about?
It’s also on my mind though because of my recent experience reviewing The Now Revolution. It occurred to me, as I started reading, that I had been entrusted with two copies of the book before it even was officially launched. I was entrusted to review the book, and i was entrusted to then find a neat way to send at least one copy of the book out to my community.
Could I really say anything negative about the book?
As it happens, there really isn’t too much that bothers me about The Now Revolution. In fact, with just 2 chapters left, it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a couple of years. But what if it hadn’t been? What if there had been a lot of points that just galled me?
I decided that the best path would be to be me. You know who I am. I think, to some extent, Jay and Amber know who I am. I’m not going to say negative things just because I want to create a riot on my blog site. I’m not going to gush at something that’s not gush-worthy.
I feel pretty strongly that I would take that line regardless of the situation. You expect it from me. I expect it from me.
It might be boring. It might not make me a lot of friends in some cases. But I have to be able to sleep at night.
What do you think?
What do you think? Would it be better for someone to not be transparent about all of their ties so that you could take their opinion in without all of that bias? Is it better to know where someone stands but accept that maybe it’s not 100% what they truly think?
What would you do? What do you see?
Let’s talk about it.
Image by Ivan Prole. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/iprole