Friday, March 4, 2011

Face Time or Face Book: Facing the pressure of social media.

This started out as a blog about taking a digital sabbatical, which I was going to take over the holidays. I didn’t post the blog. I didn’t take the sabbatical. But I’ve been playing duck and cover with social media for several months, now, and I haven’t been quite sure why.

I love my blog. When I started Sculpting A Life, I resolved to post at least 3 times a week. Now, I’m posting only 1 time a week.

I was enthusiastic about Facebook at first. I saw it as a bright, new way to be on the web, maybe meet some new friends, share my art and writing. I posted about all my shows, events and linked my blog to it. Now, the only ‘status’ update that I do is my blog.

It all just started to pile up. I wasn’t sure why I was hiding while everyone else was Facebooking away. Inviting everyone to Facebook events, sharing YouTube videos and funny photos. Was it too much info, from too many sources? Too much pressure to post my status as much as the next person? Too much me, me, me? Could be.

I know I’m not alone on my social network island. In the interview I did with Jennifer Louden here, she talked about the importance of putting parameters around social networking and the internet, including using anti-surfing software programs to keep you from wasting hours clicking mindlessly around the internet. She’s taken several digital sabbaticals so she could spend more face to face time with her family instead of Facebook.

Lately, I’ve read a few other blogs about how to survive social media madness. Here are their ideas: Set up your own Social Media 10 Commandments like Tara Sophia Mohr in her guest post about using social media sanely. I really liked her ideas on comparisons, judgments and the need for following your life out in the real world with face to face. And Bridget Pilloud's ideas here about trusting your gut, not your laptop, is wonderfully bold and true. Bridget points out that if you feel uncomfortable with some site or post or facebook friend, listen to your intuition and remember your boundaries.

I love the internet in many ways. I’ve made wonderful connections, shared ideas, created art, been helped and hopefully, helped others as well. My favorite part of the internet is right here, my blog. Sharing my creative journey with all its ups and downs with other like-minded creative people out there makes the studio and writing desk a lot less lonely than it used to be, that’s for sure.

I know that as an artist and writer, I need the internet, social media and email for marketing. And I love it for reading blogs, articles and finding information at my fingertips. But it can be intrusive, overwhelming, and start to dominate your life. Some days, my laptop feels like a ball and chain. Maybe taking a digital sabbatical would take the weight off. The problem, I see is, it would all still be there when I got back.

Let’s face it; Facebook was created as a way for a guy to ‘market’ himself to girls. So, it’s not surprising that its become the place to try to impress or market your work, family or life. Maybe that’s why I’ve avoided jumping on everyday to do a status update on my life.

I need to set parameters, of course. But I don’t want to become an internet hermit, either. Maybe what I’m looking for is more heart. Not more marketing.

As I write this blog, with my thoughts about the nature of the internet, I’m sitting in my chair feet propped up on pillows, my laptop in my lap keeping me warm on a cold winter day, a thought occurs to me…could this be the modern version of a cabin in the woods?

Am I writing from my cabin to yours? The only difference is it doesn’t require paper or printing and it gets from me to you, by mouse click down the digital highway instead by horse and carriage down rutted, dirt road.

I’m wondering this: Is it possible to create a digital Walden Pond? One where we could all wander, wonder and write? One where our spirits get uplifted, supported, our creativity supported, our imaginations stirred?

Now that’s my kind of space on the internet…how about you?


goldenbird said...

I couldn't agree with you more about Facebook. Something about it makes me vaguely uncomfortable, so I deactivated my account several months ago. Best decision ever.

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Mike Turner said...

I see it as an important marketing space for my art but not a relationship place. Others view it completely opposite. I know everyone was so 'wowed' by my space when it first started, and now no one is...not sure how it will all shake out.