It is a truth universally acknowledged that our world is becoming dominated by social media. Love it or hate it, connecting to the online world of status updates, tweets, and posted pictures is almost expected for those wanting to stay up-to-date on current happenings. As an aspiring creative-type, I realize the little time I’m not working my day job can either be taken up with following my passions or scrolling through endless updates. Some people are choosing to regain their free time by removing themselves from social media, but others are reluctant to give up its positive aspects completely.
I personally enjoy parts of partaking in social media apps (how else can I keep up with Chrissy Teigen’s tweets?) and rather than quitting them cold turkey, I’ve found ways to use them that actually helps, not hinders, my creativity.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: DOWNLOAD A PHONE USAGE TRACKER
This suggestion is not for the faint of heart. Before you can start actually deciding how you want to use your smartphone, figure out how much time you spend on it daily. I was in an adorable local bookstore the other day when I found a book entitled How to Break Up With Your Phone. While thumbing through it, I picked up some stellar advice I wish I’d found sooner: download an app that tracks your phone usage. I took the advice and put the Moments app on my iPhone. Now that I know exactly how much I’m using my phone, I’m less likely to reach for it when I have a free moment.
I wrote an article last year in which I mentioned one of my favorite pieces of advice regarding Instagram: Tavi Gevinson’s comment that “Instagram should make you happy.” Her perspective is applicable to all forms of social media. Beyond curating an uplifting home page, if your goal (besides keeping up with family and friends) is to increase creativity, shouldn’t your social media be playing a role?
Are there people you follow on Instagram who you don’t know, but spend hours paging through their pictures, wishing you had their outfits/dog/life? Out they go. Companies that only make you want to buy things you don’t need? Click that unfollow button. Political Twitter accounts that only anger, never inform? Goodbye.
I’m not saying you should get rid of EVERY account that falls into this category. I definitely don’t unfollow every account that doesn’t directly serve my goals, but I’ve noticed that being conscious of the time and energy I’m devoting to keeping up with these updates makes me hesitant to give them such a large platform in my life.
CREATE A SEPARATE ACCOUNT FOR YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS
This may be a no-brainer, but if you enjoy the act of putting your work on social media, create accounts for your artistic endeavors. Rupi Kaur originally became famous for her poetry on Instagram, and most every photographer I know has an account for their pictures.
If you’re hesitant about sharing your work, it isn’t necessary to publish it on your personal accounts, or even share a link. Of course, part of the vast danger of the internet is the anonymity that can accompany its usage. As a visit to almost any Youtube videos’ comments section proves, people are more apt to be hateful when cloaked by an anonymous name online. However, this aspect of the internet doesn’t have to be used for evil. If you’re not ready for attention to be focused on your art, start accounts without publicizing them.
On an episode of NPR’s “Hidden Brain,” there’s a story about Helen Ellis, author of American Housewife, and how she got the idea for the book from starting an anonymous twitter account dedicated to publishing satirical tweets about being a housewife. In the podcast, she says, “…one of the nice things about… having the anonymous account was nobody knew it was me. Nobody was watching. There were absolutely no expectations. And it really freed me.”
If you aren’t ready, waiting to promote your art to people you know can help you slowly become comfortable with the idea of pushing your work into the world’s awareness.
READ GOOD INTERVIEWS
Something I’ve found that inspires my creativity is reading well-done interviews with artists. I’m a huge fan of Tavi Gevinson’s interview style, and could read or listen to her question artists about their work and creative process all day. Find a few outlets that continually feature discussions with artists and follow them on Twitter or Instagram.
PICK UP PINTEREST
Ah, Pinterest. How many hours have I lost to your endless pages of beauty? While I’ve reined in my former hardcore Pinterest habit, it can be a great source of quick inspiration when necessary. Unfollow people who add to the noise, and create boards you can quickly access when you’re in a creative rut.
At the end of the day, make your social media work for you. Keep up with the people you care about, pursue your passion, keep the parts you like, and forget the rest.