Social media and I have had a confusing relationship ever since we discovered each other. By nature I’m a fairly shy, introverted person, yet I have a deep need to be in community with others. Those characteristics together can present interpersonal challenges. Social media, however, gives me a window into the lives of others without having to be more outgoing, as I’ve sometimes wished I was. I love catching glimpses of what’s going on with my family and friends. I love seeing the creative work of other artists and being inspired by their successes. I love meeting new people (and making great friends) through social media that I otherwise would not have met. I love being inspired to do good, especially in the midst of dark days.
But for me, there is a trade-off to the constant information-feed of social media. First, it’s become a habit. Just like I wake up and eat breakfast without thinking about it, I often grab my phone to see the latest news on Facebook or Instagram, without thinking. And if I do that enough times in the day suddenly minutes (hours?) disappear without me being aware. Second, while social media can be incredibly positive, it can also be wildly negative. It’s a place where many people don’t think about the impact of their words or the images they share. There is open judgement, slander and inappropriate content. I also recognize that everyone simply wants to be heard and validated, sometimes hurting others as they react to their own personal hurts. But is it wise to feed our minds with negativity, day after day, much like a never-ending reel of the evening news? I don’t believe so. Third, it tempts me to be discontent. I think this may be the biggest offender. I see the beautiful vacation photos in my timeline and the skilled artwork of fellow artists, happy things that most definitely should be celebrated. But if I’m not careful, my thoughts can easily shift from celebration of their joy to *myself*, wondering when it will be MY time to enjoy that tropical destination or have such incredible talent. And if enough people are “liking” the things I post, that means something, right? It’s the ultimate comparison trap rooted in the lie that we can’t be content where we are today with everything we already have.
So what does this mean for me?
I’m breaking up with social media.
I’m not quitting it altogether. But it’s no longer going to play a significant role in my life as it has in the past. The good news is that the chains have already begun to loosen when it comes to my personal use of it. But for work, not so much.
I confess it’s a little scary, as an artist, to think about not highly leveraging this tool. After all, what I do is visual in nature and what better avenue to share my work than a website that others view every day. But for now, if doing so isn’t best for me personally, then it’s not best for business. As I recently launched the new print collection, I had a beautiful season of productivity when the art poured out. I want to tap into that kind of productivity again, this time though, not feeling the need to stop and post my work along the way. At least, not as often as I was. One of my triggers for spending too much time on the web is posting content. Chad likes to say I start “squirreling” (i.e. going off on tangents) and while I used to take offense to that, I laugh now because it’s COMPLETELY true. Being on Instagram sometimes feels like being a kid in a candy store. I am wired to create. I am not wired to gorge myself with social information.
If these thoughts are alien to you and you’ve always had a healthy perspective on social media then kudos to you! I sincerely admire you. But if you can relate, I hope this inspires you to make positive changes regarding your own use of social media. I’ve been battling these thoughts for far too long. Enough is enough. Time is too precious to spend another (unaware) second with my face in my phone.
It’s time to look up.
It’s time to live in the present.
I am worth it.
You are worth it.