By Bernadette Jiwa, business writer, idea catalyst and brand storyteller.
When I heard the story about acclaimed writer Jonah Lehrer and how he had resigned as staff writer at The New Yorker because he’d fabricated parts of his bestselling book Imagine, I felt sick at the thought of a professional feeling so desperate to be what other people thought he was, that he had to live a lie just to keep up.
Imagine the pain of being him. Imagine waking up every day knowing that the world thought you were a modern day oracle, but feeling like a fraud. Imagine living with the weight of all that expectation, knowing that you’re only as good as your last article. Imagine understanding that you’re going to have to keep pulling those successes off for another lifetime or risk being seen as a public failure. Imagine your reality never living up to the hype.
Is that the pressure that we as content creators live with now that the world has opened up to us, and all online eyes are on us? Will we too feel compelled to give the truth a helping hand in order to stay in the game?
It’s all too easy to hide behind a sleek, shiny veneer online. To craft your story around the highlights. To massage the truth. To work hard to give people what you think they want. To stop being who you really are.
The only clues Jonah himself gives as to who he is can be found on the about page of his website, which reads:
“I’m a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of three books: Imagine, How We Decide, and Proust Was a Neuroscientist. I’m also a frequent contributor to WNYC’s Radiolab.
For all speaking engagements, please contact The Lavin Agency.
For all book related enquiries, please contact Taryn Roeder.”
And a beautiful picture of a little blonde boy wearing a fireman’s hat and puzzled look on his face. That picture says more to me about the man than his words can.
What we seem to have forgotten in our rush to appear like polished and perfect professionals and content creators is that when everything is stripped away all we’ve got is the truth of our story, which is what matters most.