Is social networking ROI destroying creativity?
Originally posted on Medium.com
Instagram and Facebook “likes” feel good. Retweets feel better. Are these tiny bits of social network validation hampering our dedication to long-form projects?
Never before has it be easier to receive mass amounts of objective, unbiased validation. Expressing yourself via social networks of choice is likely to garner feedback from a tight group of friends and family; however, the possibility that a quick smartphone snapshot or quippy tweet may touch an anonymous soul, or tens-of-thousands for that matter, has fueled my craving for quick validation. I feel it has also impacted my motivation to focus on long-form art (ie. musical albums, novels, dense illustrations, etc.) or realize my dreams. Hell, even this blog post is an obvious grasp for recognition and validation.
The unexpected moments you are retweeted by a “celebrity” or your personal blog experiences a sudden traffic spike hit home the idea that to feel good or noticed don’t have to come at the price of investing months or years into a piece of art or expression. For myself, this notion has become toxic. I crave at least one piece of anonymous recognition or praise through Twitter per day. I have come to find that those days without this validation I return home from work feeling empty and lost. To remain content and happy, it is not enough to tell myself that I am in an extremely fulfilling relationship, that I have a fortunate career, that I have written a novel, or that my body and mind crave jogging. It’s these little pieces of validation from others that keep me motivated.
However, while one would think that this motivation could be spun into larger creative endeavors, the quick validation keeps me coming back to social media for “easy” praise. I have long felt uncertain about my passions and career goals. I can’t help but think there is a link to this social media validation addiction and my inability to discover what really makes me happy, determine what I really want to be, and focus on achieving a career I can consider my life’s work. Instead, these lofty and uncertain thoughts have me retreating back to a habit of scanning my Twitter feed, looking for answers or hoping I will be able to join in conversation with some of my idols.
When I do feel that I have applied myself to a project that garners little to no recognition or lasting appeal, I find myself going down a rabbit hole of MBTI and/or Holland Code quizzes, wondering if I am barking up the wrong tree or wasting my time with creative mediums that will never grant me success. Then it’s back to the hope for a quick hit on Twitter or Facebook where my ROI on a 140-character phrase or a picture of my new coffee mug will be greater than any creative pursuits I have poured hours or weeks into. Or at least it feels that way.
Quitting all social media has crossed my mind many times as I understand it has now become an addiction. Or is it validation I am addicted to? What is worse? And if I am to quit social media and quell my craving for validation, why am I posting on Medium? Is it a platform I enjoy or the potential success of a post I enjoy more? Maybe the desire for this external validation acts as en escape from my cubicle, spreadsheets, and email. The more I think about this, the more it feels like I’m spinning gears and going in circles.
Do you find quick, deminishing hits of micro-blogging success hindering your perspective? Is the ROI of social networking keeping us from finding and pursuing our dreams? Please sound off with any and all comments. Thanks for reading.
Inspired by The One You Feed podcast.