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Hey! I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the article you wrote about Love.
Thank you so much, I loved writing that one. I mean I love them all but that one was extra fun.
Do you get those cool socks when you join slack?
I don't know if you get them when you join! but I do have some
So you're writing for The Verge and working at Slack. How do you find the time?!
I think if I didn't do both I'd go insane
also this week I talked to someone who has three jobs and three kids so if he can find the time
haha how come?
a couple reasons I think
one is that I love writing
like, even tho it's hard sometimes, there are times I truly love the act of writing, not just what I create
and without that I feel like my life would be incomplete
also I need a creative outlet, and doing my work uses more of the analytical side of me (with some creativity still)
so it's a good balance
plus I think tech/SV has a very very very bad habit
of wanting people to make their jobs/tech their LIVES
and when you do that, if shit gets rough, you have nowhere to retreat to that's yours
and finally I think my work is informed by my writing, and my writing is informed by my work -- not that I write about slack but more that my sensibilities sharpen and improve by doing complementary things
yeah I can definitely identify with that
I was drinking the fb coolaid pretty bad my first year or so
it made the lows *very* low
it's really hard!!!
I guess for me it's hard to find balance because we spend so much of our time at work
like literally most of our life
so not fully devoting your life to it feels like a waste in some ways
but it feels like an chance to use the job as a stabilizing force, a place where you do work you're proud of and where you can take refuge when personal life feels insane
but also see it as a place that sometimes you need refuge FROM
because the problem with work, especially at a company, is that no matter how beholden and devoted you are to your job
it can never fully return the favor
it's a company
and you're a person
I guess many people in SV don't set out to make a company
rather to bring an idea to life
and the company is a byproduct of the idea
maybe that's why it's so easy to get tangled in that as your "life"
I totally get it
what I really like about your writing is that it's so personal
and I feel like once you develop a reputation it's hard to be truly authentic in public
you know? because everyone here knows each other and you never know when something you say might come back to bite you
but that's authentic too, just a different kind
I say this in part because I figured out at one point
maybe like 9 months into doing that first series of essays
how to write something very personal that also didn't reveal very much at all
so being personal can also be a sort of performance, you know?
ooh that's interesting
I think people fetishize authenticity
part of what I try and do in my writing is give people the space to find themselves in the writing
I mean we love this idea of authenticity, in the items we buy and in the ways in which we want people to present themselves
and in our cultural production, right?
but so much of what we consider to be authentic is basically layers of narrative, much of which has been based on concepts that are not "authentic" themselves
there's this book I love, one of the few sociology books I truly truly enjoy reading
it's about the creation of country music
and the idea that "authentic" country music is based on a concept that was manufactured by the music industry in the early 1900s
early "country" musicians didn't dress like cowboys and hillbillies
they wore their sunday finest to the city where they'd record their music
but that wasn't going to sell, it needed an image. they needed to LOOK like hillbillies or like cowboys or like some mythological western creation
so whatever people think is "authentic" is based on layers of truths and fictions and narratives and images and intentional creations
and I think about the self that way too
the authentic self is a weird amalgamation
and even when we're protecting ourselves or not sharing all our feelings, we're still being authentic
Perhaps true authenticity is hard to prove, but I guess what resonates with me is the vulnerability that comes with this perceived authenticity.
I think what resonates is this willingness to be vulnerable
and we mistake that for authenticity -- it may be very authentic, and hopefully is
but authenticity carries with it a value judgement
it's "better" than other ways of being
and maybe I'm not totally correct
but it's fun to talk about
It's certainly refreshing!
well, I guess the difference is in being truly authentic versus being perceived as authentic
and hey sometimes the truly authentic you needs to protect yourself!
authentic, in my mind, is behaving in a way that is congruous with how you feel and who you "are"
what I think is "better"
is learning to listen to the way deep down voice inside of you, which if you want to know the truth, is what I think God is
it's just that it's easier to put God outside the self
because then it's not like "what if I'm wrong, what if my inner voice is wrong"
I think that's what I am trying to do with my verge column
which is get people to sit and listen to themselves
that's a generous simplification of "God"
maybe it is
so, "learning to listen to the way deep down voice inside of you" -- is that being authentic? vulnerable?
it's definitely vulnerable
I guess I just dislike the concept of authentic so much because it feels like shorthand -- it feels like what you said, a generous simplification for something that is much harder to do in reality
people can say "oh you're so authentic" but REALLY BEING THAT WAY takes work
because once you start listening to yourself and acting in a way that respects you AND those around you, with kindness and intention
is a constant practice
but that's why it's so fetishized right? It's so hard! And rare...
well, it's why it's rare for sure
but do you think people think about authenticity to this degree?
I think it's fetishized because it's a shortcut
Well, I think it comes from a fear of being lied to.
I think it can be more subtle than that though
and I think the fetishization comes b/c of trappings of "authenticity"
and the sense that certain visual/verbal cues mean "authentic"
rather than "you are absolutely true to yourself and you also operate from a place of kindness and decency toward others"
well, kindness and decency are a bonus :)
they should be the baseline!
So, we separated authenticity from vulnerability.
Is your writing authentic or vulnerable? Or both?
it's definitely vulnerable
I think my writing is authentic but is not a complete and total representation of me, the human
or even me, the writer
I see. So you're crafting a vulnerable "character"?
it's not a character
it's absolutely a part of me
but it's not the whole me, which is of course a more complicated picture
that makes sense
Leah is a writer, editor, and ethnographer who currently works at Slack as a user researcher. She writes about people, technology, communication, relationships, and culture, but mostly about the people trying to use and create all these things.
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