You know, if there’s one thing I’ve realized, it’s that I can’t use social media. And it’s not necessarily an issue with the platforms themselves (though they definitely have issues), it’s because it simply doesn’t work for me from an individual standpoint as to how I deal with social interactions.
I don’t share my stuff with other people in real life, so I went to online to alleviate that issue. Problem is, I’m still not the type of person who would go out of their way to interact with people. I want a place to share, but not necessarily a place to interact. And that’s why I’m particularly at odds with social media.
Since social media became the norm for interaction, it also became a medium for sharing creative work. That’s not necessarily the issue. My issue is that I don’t like sharing my work in that manner. I’m not the type of person who wants to get the limelight all of time; get a lot of followers and comments or whatever. I don’t want to become an “influencer” or “internet celebrity”. I’d rather keep myself at a healthy distance regardless of the size of my audience. It keeps me from going completely crazy, and it also helps me focus on my work and improving that, instead of growing metrics that will, and possible already are irrelevant to me.
Some people manage well enough with social media. For me it always turns into some derivative of a dumpster fire, regardless of the platform. This is less about the ethical issues regarding the companies behind the platforms, but more of how the structure of social media works against how I like sharing my work.
I don’t like how social media just forces whatever you make into people’s faces. Put in a different way, I’m not a fan of notifications, particularly when it comes to my own stuff.
I tend to hold back my output because if I don’t, I feel like I’d be constantly spamming people with stuff, and I don’t like that. It makes sense for places like YouTube where the people I follow don’t update often, but in more faster-paced platforms I don’t like seeing a constant stream of stuff in my feed so I don’t like doing the same when it comes to sharing my own work.
Social media doesn’t really give you a choice on whether something gets shown or not. Whatever you post, people (particularly followers) will be notified of it. This is regardless of how significant or insignificant your post actually is, and whether or not you want everyone to see it or not. And when you do have control, it’s always extremes: either you’re completely public, or completely private and no one can see your work. And even then I can’t choose when a public post can be hidden in notifications but visible in reality.
I personally don’t like this because I can’t build a body of public work without feeling like I’m constantly trying to get people’s attention. I tend to create things in batches, and as a result I have to purposefully space things out so that I don’t completely spam the feed into dust. I also like posting minor things but I don’t want to have people be constantly pinged about it.
I’m the type of person who prefers to “post and run”, so I’d rather have the choice to let people know that I’ve posted something or not. It feels contradictory in a way: I want to post online but I don’t want people to know I posted. Like I said in the beginning, it’s primarily because what I really want is a place to share my stuff, but I don’t necessarily want interaction as a result. Social media kind of throws you into the ring with a potential for interaction every time you post and it’s exhausting. I like it when I can push stuff out of a pipeline with nothing coming back.
Getting some feedback through comments is nice, but what I realized that I didn’t like about comments is replying to them. This in turn resulted in a distaste for comments, not because I didn’t like what was said, but because I felt obligated to do something as a result of receiving one.
And it’s not as a result of partiality. I don’t like replying regardless of the person. I’m actually notorious for not replying to e-mails or text messages in my personal life, even after I had read them. And if I do respond, it’s usually straight to the point and blunt. If I wanted a proper conversation, I’d rather talk to them in person, not through online or instant messaging.
I think this is a result of being inherently attuned to social cues. Because messages through text are rather two-dimensional, you have to infer what certain words could mean, and what they’re intending to communicate. To me, that’s just exhausting. I can’t be bothered to do that all of the time.
Also, I often find that comments don’t lead to further discussion. Sometimes a message trails off and there’s really no possible way to create a meaningful discussion without pulling something completely out of thin air or taking someone’s words beyond what they actually said. Because of this, I’ve become more reluctant to reply to messages that aren’t questions or that don’t give me a lead to continue the conversation. Sometimes it’s just a statement of facts that results me thinking “OK, how exactly am I supposed to reply to this?”, and because of that I don’t bother anymore. I’ve spent too much mental energy thinking of replies to comments that don’t necessitate an actual response.
This is why I like guestbooks, because I don’t have to reply to anything. Like guestbooks in real life, people leave comments with the expectation that they’re not going to get a reply. I personally like it that way.
I think the main lesson I’ve learned from using social media is that for me, it’s not a good place for sharing creative work. It always turns into a place for interaction instead, which while valuable, isn’t necessarily what I want to get out of it. It tends to become a platform to market yourself instead of a place to showcase growth, and sharing things that actually has some depth to it. It works well for businesses or entrepreneurs, not so much for people like me who just want to post their stuff and get on with life.
It really depends on the person. I thought I would like the interaction, but I’ve realized that it has detracted from my initial intentions of what I wanted in the first place: a place to share and improve my work. It’s not to say I’ll avoid interaction entirely, but it’s nice to have some control over it instead of constantly feeling like I’m in a party that I’m perpetually trapped in.