In the last few days, in light of Elon Musk, urging people to delete their Facebook accounts, I have been contemplating all of my social media. Questioning why I am connected to so many different accounts. Being an artist and a writer in my spare time and a webmaster in my day job has led me to start up accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Dribble, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, Behance, Google My Business, Youtube, Ello, and Patreon. Then there’s etsy, saatchi and saatchi and society 6, the list goes on. There are also other accounts amongst those, that I monitor for other businesses, as well as new ones I start up when I get a big idea.
Which leads me into the statement Elon Musk made on Twitter. I am perturbed by Elon’s off-handed statement. It riles me. Pushes up against the grain of my boring mundane life. How dare he, encourage people to give up a service, that has brought so much joy and connectedness to so many people? How can he, with one statement, attempt to bring down, one of the companies that have forged on with technology and seems to be run by genuinely nice people?
Realization dawned on me. Julius Caesar spoke with words, heralding the new age of imperialism and life as we know it. Stealing from every other culture imaginable to bring together an empire essentially ruled by men for over a thousand years. How did he do that? Through words.
Now, words can reach billions of people, in a split second. Perhaps, this is the reason why China’s government is limiting specific search engines, media’s and URLs from being available in the country. Words are power in the connected world. Knowledge seems to be irrelevant. People believe words, even when not based on any facts or no explanation is forthcoming.
Which brings us to the whole ’connected world’ issue, of posting and searching. Yesterday evening, I drew a picture of a flamingo surrounded by tropical plants. I found the base image I used for the drawing on Pinterest. It wasn’t even a search, the flamingo popped up on my feed, lighting up my eyes and I immediately started drawing the outline. The next step was taking several photographs of the process, with the finished drawing being posted on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.
This morning, when I turned on my laptop, mainly to charge my phone as my daughter took the charging plug with her to a friend’s place, the splash screen (are they even called that now!?) display was of a river system where certain birds went to breed. I will admit, the image had me intrigued, so I clicked on it. Bing rewarded me with a full search page of the lesser flamingo.
Living in a connected world
Living in a ‘connected world’ can sometimes bring joy. At the same time, it can be irritating, when you search or research particular subjects for your day job and suddenly your feeds are full of technology, SEO, and analytics advertisements. Please search engines, differentiate between what I have to do every day to make ends meet with what I love to do. Suggestions would be; Art, art supplies, illustration techniques, cute animals, interesting plants, science fiction and fantasy writers, braiding hair, travel to warm locations, women kicking ass and men being delicious (life is short, let me enjoy a little bit).
Last night, as I finished binge-watching Vikings, this is a rare occurrence for me. Television is after all the drug of the nation. As I was drawing yet another fox with berries, I sat and pondered how I could manage all my media’s without resorting to paying someone to do it. In the past years, I have researched and implemented various social media ‘babysitting’ software for companies. They take a while to set-up and still require a worker to monitor them and upload images. Yes. Each social media requires a different size image, which they change on a regular basis.
Then there’s the dreaded algorithm update. Those two words, can effectively destroy all your hard work within every social media profile, not to mention affect SEO rankings. Google being the biggest culprit.
So much of my free time is spent on checking, uploading and interacting with my social media profiles, my writing and drawing time is being minimized. For a brain that was already always switched on before technology was placed in my hands so easily, it’s becoming so overloaded with information, I feel that enlightenment could be obtained through looking at a screen. My eyes light up with new knowledge, as I skip through articles, reading up on China’s eternal ‘President’ and how to make S’mores.
Information flows so quickly into my brain, little time is left for contemplation. Sometimes on my work commute, I sit and stare out the train windows, dreaming of the perfect world. But it is fleeting and more often than not, my thoughts turn to living in a cottage in the countryside. Somewhere quiet, without technology. A small garden filled with flowers outside, rooms full of books and limited connectivity to the internet.
Is it classic romanticism? Could I really live as described above, without knowledge readily available, without having to go down to the local library or bookstore to find out what year Julius Caesar was brutally killed on the steps of the forum? Or find the perfect image, illustrating a small mouse creeping through the grass, that I can build an illustration from? I imagine myself, crawling through the bushes, trying to find a mouse, only to have it run away at the first site of me. My memory is bad, I would need to freeze the mouse in time, to have any chance of capturing the pose.
I think not.
What am I to do?
Being obsessive in nature, I am contemplating how I deal with self-control, in regards to media. Recently, I gave up smoking. Again. It was relatively easy this time, with moving to an apartment on the third floor and not having a balcony. Snow was also steadily falling. In Spring.
The answer is a discipline of the self. We don’t need to delete all our social accounts. What we need to do, is regulate them somehow. By turning off all my alerts, I have effectively made it easy to check my accounts. Oh, I wonder if someone has messaged me about one of my artworks? Or, has that agent found me a publisher yet? Look at my phone, one hour later, you’ve checked all your media, interacted, answered questions, asked new questions, sent a few more query letters and found more social media channels to join.
Problems arise when you receive positive feedback and offers to purchase, right across all of your channels. Trying to decide which one to focus on, becomes harder. Having a full-time job, any creative work I do at this stage is in my spare time. In recent weeks, I have jumped back on the Ello train. They have fantastic competitions and exposure is guaranteed. Last night I received a deadline for one of the competitions. To design a star pattern poster. In three different sizes, ready for print. This would be no trouble if I thought I had any chance of winning. A niggling thought kept creeping in. The people running the competition, are effectively getting free designs and ideas. It would be a huge amount of work on my part to create the posters. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my artworks and digital files.
One could argue the exposure is worth it and maybe there is a chance of winning the competition and claiming the prize money. But seriously, all the work I put into my social media profiles, the competitions and emails sent, should give me something in return. That’s when I realized, I’m spreading myself too thin. I have too many accounts, plus my own website and others I manage.
Self-promotion and the connected world
The connected world has made it easier for self-promotion and I’m sure there are people out there who swear by social media, who perhaps have time to manage the influx of data, algorithm changes or are downright exceptional at what they do. Or, they were in the right place at the right time.
Let the social media platforms be, Elon Musk and any other ‘influencers’ who decide to make sweeping statements, telling people to stop using a platform that has essentially changed the way we live our lives. Referring back to the flamingoes, no matter what you do or which social channel you use, online everything is being tracked, recorded and stored, even if they say it isn’t.
Restrictions are essentially in place without us being aware of it. The question is, can we curb our obsession with the digital world? A future, written in AI and data. No. We can not.
Stepping away and closing your eyes, just for an hour
What we can do, is step away. Turn it off for a while and come back recharged. Focus on one channel or, have enough self-control to limit time spent on social media and the web as a whole. Although, easier said than done. Whilst writing this, I have checked Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Gmail (all four accounts, including my day job email, should not have done that!), Ello and Pinterest. The latter as it’s my favorite Social media. It’s all just pretty pictures and furry animals. No-one seems to be pushing an agenda, like on Instagram these days. Pinterest is all quotes, fluffy animals, fashion, and colors. A true inspiration, not interrupted by social selling so much. Or, maybe they got it right and the fact of the matter is, I don’t notice the advertisements or selling so much.
Are we all going to listen to one man? Albeit, he is a smart and future thinking businessman, nothing on Elon Musk as a person, but I must question his motives and reasoning, for making statements such as he did, in regards to Facebook. It has made me think less of him and I think that has irritated me more than the statement itself. All thought of the solar power plants disappeared from my mind, as the words Elon spoke, spilled across all my social feeds. Really? He really said that?
Wow. People actually listened?
The next part was all the people who actually listened to Elon Musk. Proudly proclaiming, they were deleting their Facebook accounts. In reality, if you delete your Facebook account, you pretty much need to delete all of your social accounts and use a search engine like Tor and the hidden wiki’s, unless you want to spend most of your time in the British Library, researching strange and little-known facts. And you might have to buy a cat, dog or bunny rabbit, to get your cuteness fix on a daily basis. Take photographs of the animals and food plates and paste them on your walls and office cubicle. So, damn old school.
Are you going to listen to Elon Musk’s statements about social media? I’d much prefer he stuck to the technology his companies are inventing and leave the mindless alone in their stalking, blissfully unaware states. Soon, we’ll all have chips anyways, subliminally encouraging us to buy specific products and vote for certain political dictators. Let us have our moments of ignorance, before the next avalanche of change.