Monday, January 26, 2009

Faking It: Erik Paulsen on Twitter

Stepping into the political arena, one must tell an autobiographical tale and project some 'attractive' personality. You don't have to be perfect, but somehow you have to appear preferable to the competition. As social primates, we're acutely sensitive to the feedback we perceive from others. So there's a constant paradox: The politician is attempting to project genuineness and authenticity but is doing so with calculation. Since politics is a constant within human social interaction, we're all politicians: We tailor our appearances, opinions and autobiographies to maximize our own magnetism, status and advancement. (Other motivational forces are also surely in play--but naked self-interest does not lie outside the top five, I'm quite sure.)

That said, we can't help but draw a gut conclusion concerning the authenticity of others. (Our own elevated authenticity is happily self-evident.) And our evaluations of others' authenticity are not infrequently unfair, or swayed by our own self-interest.

But still--I find Erik Paulsen's public presentation quite unengaging and charmless. I've been in his presence a half-dozen or so times, and I've never momentarily felt him thinking 'I'm going to surprise that fucker!' I've never heard him say anything funny, nor has he ever startled me with a flash of wit. Nor have I ever heard him say anything interesting. Have you?

In this vlogpost, Gary Vaynerchuk taught me something about social media--and Twitter. I'd like to point a similar criticism at Erik Paulsen.

Paulsen has been Twittering for a month or two now; you can view his most recent month's tweets by clicking the image above. Notice anything?

Paulsen's tweets have a harshly inauthentic quality; I don't believe he wrote them. The sentences have the aura--and the subjectlessness--of the self-loathing, sycophantic ghostwriter:

Visiting small businesses around the 3rd District

On the House Floor! CSPAN Clip: http://tinyurl.com/aswrqt

and

Erik Paulsen on Fox Business News: http://tinyurl.com/c75clv

That last tweet is the real giveaway. As Vaynerchuk observes, social media is all about authenticity. To detached ironists, that means: When entering the social media world, one must at least be willing to pretend to be authentic. After reading 10-20 of your tweets, I should have some confidence that you are the person behind the veil--and that I'm not being tweeted to by Stacy Johnson or some intern.

So Paulsen has entered the world of social media without having a clue what it is--handing responsibility for his tweeting off to some cubicle-slave. He might as well flush his brand down the toilet. If I'm correct, Paulsen--for his own good--should never again allow anyone other than himself to tweet under his account. (He shouldn't even allow another person to type it in--it will show.) And if I'm wrong--and that actually is your voice, Erik--then you really are hopeless.
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