Creative Respite from Social Media

In the past couple of years, a new subject of podcasts, studies, blog posts and OpEd pages emerged: the growing problem of social media addition and how it affects the attention and happiness of its users.  

But before social media omnipresence in our pockets, I was addicted to sharing my work, getting "likes" and striving for fleeting internet fame. Neopets and DeviantArt had me hooked, and while I enjoyed making art I was ultimately striving for that external affirmation. These sites were super nerdy and small, but they were a "gateway drug"—and made it so much easier to jump ship and share on more common platforms like Facebook and Instagram when they came in vogue.

At some point, I realized both crafting the perfect post and being away from my phone or computer for too long gave me anxiety The intensely political atmosphere in 2016 amplified my existential angst about social media, worrying that I was simultaneously too political and not political enough. When I read those articles about how to ease a phone obsession, I took the advice.  It's hard to give it up, but it's even harder for people in creative professions or entrepreneurial ventures.  I justified my addiction because we have a business attached to how well our feeds do. 

For me, my approach to social media feels like dieting rather than quitting smoking or drinking. You have to eat to live, but you make healthier choices that make a lifestyle and enjoy guilty pleasures in moderation. I have gone through periods of strict abstinence and also binged on scrolling endlessly through photos of perfectly curated feeds. 

There are times I feel intense nostalgia for the way the web worked in 2003-2011. I miss the explosion of DIY and Design blogs by plucky individuals, reaching the end of a webpage, Flickr before Yahoo, and everything before "algorithms" locked us into who we are rather than who we could or want to be.  As I get older, suspect that this nostalgia is merely the universal yearning for a more innocent time in one's life. But others seem to think along similar lines. The social media landscape demands constant vigilance—both in producing a never-ending stream of "content" and engagement to stay on top of a continually evolving algorithm. It's exhausting, and I don't even do that great of a job at maintaining my own social media presence. 

Instead of broadcasting my complains onto the objects of my ire, I figured I'd begin by tending to my own corner of the internet, and produce the type of content that I wish to see in the world.  I want to make more things and keep them away from bottomless feeds before I feel like I have a healthy relationship with social media again. But... even then, I have not been pleased with recent ethical and moral lapses by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Is the attention/promotion I get justify rewarding these companies with my creative work and attention?  

 

Here's what I'm doing to try to reestablish a healthy relationship with devices, social media, and passive consumption.

  • Using Moment on my iPhone to track how much I use my phone. 
  • Using the Self Control App when I really need to focus and get off Twitter. 
  • Using Qbserve to measure productivity on my work machine. 
  • I recently deactivated Facebook, but before that I blocked the facebook.com domain from my work machine's computer's  host files. Here's a guide. 

Class of 2017, listen up!

If you're a senior in high school this fall,  you're probably tired of every adult asking on repeat since last August: "Where are you applying for college?" and "What do you want to do with your life?" I dreaded those questions and can confirm it's just a compulsion that sneaks up on us adults, because we have no idea how to relate to you or know what you're really interested in.... but this blog post isn't about adults, it's about you. 

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2014 Victories!

2014 was a great year for me! Here are some of the highlights, some professional, some personal.  

 

Freelance!!

In 2014 I was hired by businesses big and small to create branding, websites, lettering, maps and more! I made some money and great friends along the way. 2015 has already has some exciting freelance opportunities on the horizon as well! 

Figured out how to do my eyebrows

     I didn’t necessarily set out to get better at maintaining my eyebrows but I’m glad I did. I don’t care if it seems vain, I love getting compliments on my strong yet well maintained brows. Lots of youtube videos, product experimentation and practice was involved. 

Made actual money on Society6 

I promoted my Yosemite poster on Society6 on a rock climbing forum and I made more than 15 times the sales in a single week than I had in the 6 months since starting my shop. 

Finally ordered letterpressed business cards

I dragged my feet getting this done but I finally stopped being a perfectionist and settled on a design. Mama’s Sauce did a great job producing them, and now I love getting to hand out my luxuriously thick cards to people. It may seem small, but the cards make me feel more legitimate.  

Got my art into a gallery

My sculpture, WANDERLUST, was featured in the Old Bakery Emporium. A huge thanks to the people who came, it was another small but big step for me and my career. I hope to be featured in more openings in the future! 

Pushed my climbing to 5.10b/c 

I got a lot more serious about climbing and working on my technique. Two weeks before the new year I climbed a 5.10 b/c that I’d been working on for the better part of a month.  A week into January, I am climbing 5.10c's! 

Made a lot of pet portraits 

I was commissioned for almost a dozen dog and house portraits this year! I’m happy to say that each gift was received really well. Apparently a few recipients loved their gift so much they cried after opening them. Bringing that kind of happiness to people is why I love to make things.