Transparency P.1: Thoughts About Discussing Worth and Effort

As I sit here to write a new post I must admit that I’ve been debating the topic of what it means to be transparent.

Looking through Instagram, I worry that my own sense of reality gets distorted by looking at images that show a lot of fun and very little hard work. A lot of consumerism, but very little care about people or the environment. A lot of curated moments, but very little of one’s true reality. A lot of fashion that I can’t connect with, and very few clothing repeats.

I think the same can be said about how we share our experiences with the world around us. When we highlight that which is glamours and hide that which was hard work, we foster the perception of a distorted reality in which our lives are always amazing, even when it truly isn’t. I think we pay a price for that, and perhaps that price isn’t worth it.

I recently read an article on Vox about blogging and compensation, and the following really stuck with me:

“Reading through advertising presses and so forth, it’s kind of attributed to the fact that women are inherently social, and women love social media, and they love sharing products and so forth. So why wouldn’t we be able to expect the same of a blogger or Instagrammer? For these corporations, it’s, again, devaluing the work and not recognizing this as work and something that takes strategy and purpose and time and energy and investments [and] that needs to be adequately compensated.” (Brooke Erin Duffy)

So, what does this have to do with being transparent? Honesty about time and effort, as well as being bold when it comes to declaring one’s self-worth in monetary values, is something I rarely read about in my favorite blogs. The exception was a post I read recently in the blog Lifestylejustic:

“I’ve had companies tell me that they “can’t afford to pay for a sponsored post because they’ve already used up their marketing budget for the quarter”, said “no problem” and posted for them for free, and then found out later that they paid other bloggers both before and after they said they couldn’t pay me.”

While there are many great conversation about topics that would be difficult to discuss (for example, motherhood or the decision to be childless), I’m not sure how much we tend to share about the nitty-gritty of our daily work and the setbacks we experience. As I see it, the except above is an example of a company taking advantage of the notion that one should be simply thankful (but not compensated!) that a company paid attention to your writing, which takes much time and much effort.

I really wish bloggers would share how and how much they were compensated when writing a sponsored post. I’d also love to know what percentage of their wardrobe was actually purchased with their own money. If the majority of what they owned was given to them, one asked whether they would have likely seen value in a particular item and invested in it. One’s decision making process seems to me to be just as important as the item itself.

anoher lemon
Image captured by myself.

Another example is a recent article in the New York Times in which women who didn’t reach the top-ladder positions in their companies shared their setbacks. As a woman who would like to one day advance in her workplace, I find it often disheartening to hear that:

Looking back, she is convinced that being a woman hurt her. “I rewrote the entire strategy for the company, doubled its share price,” she said. “We had a little bit of a dip. All of the guys had missed their numbers more. There’s a guy positioning himself as the successor. He hasn’t made his number in seven years. He’s tall and good looking and hangs around the right circles.”

She drew an unwelcome conclusion. “Women are prey,” she said. “They can smell it in the water, that women are not going to play the same game. Those men think, ‘If I kick her, she’s not going to kick back, but the men will. So I’ll go after her.’ It’s keeping women in their place. I truly believe that.” (Why Women Aren’t
C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were)

There are many take aways from the experiences shared in the article, but I want to focus for a moment on the idea of sharing reality as you experience it, without glossing it over. I know I am much happier when I focus on the positive aspects of any events that I experience rather than the negative, but being realistic doesn’t mean we have to be totally pessimistic. There is so much knowledge we can gain from these experiences, if only to be aware that even if we ourselves want to focus only on the work we do and the results we see, sometimes human relations have more of an effect on how we are seen. It’s something that has occurred to me as I spend more time in the workplace. Perceptions of who you are can greatly influence what you will be able to achieve. The question, then, is how to build that positive perception? I think about that quite a bit.

pealing off layers
Another image taken by myself.

As I continue to muse about this topic, I’ll move on to talking about how my experience of wearing the same thing again and again has shaped up to be, as this seems to be the main topic of my blog. If there’s anything else you’d like to hear honestly about, please share in the comments below.

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