Sunday, August 28, 2011

Silicone Bitch: Teacher Versus Shill

News and notes about the South Florida social media and blogging scene, with a little tech thrown in for good measure. And maybe some other random events, too.

I was on the phone yesterday catching up with my dear friend Stephanie Quilao, the amazing health lifestyle blogger best known for Back in Skinny Jeans. One of the things that came up in conversation was how some very high-profile social media people can be total fakes, professing the art but not practicing what they preach.

Our talk begged the question: what's the difference between being a true teacher and a showman?

The core of this question had to do with yoga teachers who get breast implants and others who seem to say one thing yet practice another. Ditto with social media personalities who are all "out there" but can't fit the bill when it comes to their personal success at relationships of all kinds, be they personal or business.

I'm not going to name names, but I have seen some pretty absurd behavior in my career involving social media. Heck, I've made mistakes too.

In my mind, it boils down to this. You can't be a true social media personality if ...

... You don't practice what you preach. If you say wear pink, you better be wearing pink yourself. And it's cool if you decide to stop wearing pink one day. Just make sure you tell your audience why.

... You aren't compassionate. Social media is just a digital expression of what the yogis have been saying for years. (I wrote about it in this post on yoga and social media.) Hey, we all have to make a living and we all have an ego, but using social media for self-aggrandizing is only the start. Once you get there, what are you doing to make this world a better place?

... You aren't brutally honest about all your misgivings. Cult of personality is not about perfection. It's about owning your imperfections and knowing which boundaries you are willing to break in order to share. You don't have to share everything, however. You aren't a reality show star, for pete's sake. Stay classy and keep some of your dirty laundry private, but let the world know that "rock star" is their attribution, not yours.

... You don't take time "off" from that persona you've created and you don't know the difference between the two. If you're always "on" how do you know who you really are? I tweet like a crazy idiot but there are stretches of time during which I am very quiet. Why? Because I'm taking time to be "me." I don't have an agenda to push anything 24/7. But when I do tweet or blog, you know damn well it's pretty authentic. That's how it should be.

... You sell snake oil and pretend like that's ok. Selling snake oil just doesn't cut it anymore. And if you must sell snake oil, at least be more of yourself in the process.

... You aren't a student. A true teacher is always a student. What's the zen saying? In the mind of the beginner there are many possibilities, but the "expert" is full of shit -- no room for expansion.

... You aren't humble. Being humble is key. Learning from your students is imperative. All a true teacher can do is share best practices and discuss skill sets -- what the student does is entirely up to his or her innovative, not just imitative, application. I don't give you the fish -- I teach you how to fish, but it's up to you to do the fishing etc;

... You don't know when to call it quits. Knowing when and how to end is a major plus. Beginnings are wonderful but endings should be just as special. When has an idea run dry? OK, good. It's time to move on with something else. Own that and don't fake your way through it with false, sugar-coated enthusiasm.

... You suggest short-term, turn-key, solutions for life-long issues that you know are never really going to go away. Nobody becomes an expert over night. A true teacher focuses on the present, to be sure, but doesn't run away from the bigger picture. Problems will always be there, but the key is sharing best practices.

... You believe exclusively in numbers. There are no reasons ever to try to get thousands of followers just "because." Popularity is a fake dream and the true star is the one who doesn't give a shit. (Yes, heaps of irony there, but that's zen for you.) Following is something that should be earned the hard way in an organic, evolving process. Don't sell a dream. Sell a really usable, practical reality.


The Glamorous Gourmet said...

Great post and you make some excellent points! There's a lot to weed through out there in the blogosphere - lots of great folks too. Thanks for sharing:)

Mike said...

You have always shared with me but there's "problem" with that. The smarter I get, the dumber I feel. Thank you for this.


Unknown said...

I was with you until you started ragging on yoga teachers with breast implants. Is yoga only for the little titted? I am, however, a big fan of pink. And of pink clothing. I'm currently wearing a pink oxford with the sleeves cut off. Why? Cuz I can.

If you know of any large breasted yoga instructors in the So. Cal. area, would you please let me know. I've been thinking about giving it a try.