| Catapult Alumni
Nonfiction Creator in the 21st Century
Thoughts on a career in which you have to be on social media to “succeed” and curating your social media to actually get some good out of something with so many negative impacts
Here’s the reality of being a creator in the wonderful year of 2019. You have to be on social media to get anywhere in this world. Of course, being on social media comes with it’s perks but don’t forget the extensive list of cons that are so often overlooked. Social media has been said, countless times, to negatively impact one’s mental health and, in my opinion, can be an incredible waste of time. Think about it, how much time per day do you spend on social media? The answer is probably far too much.
We live in a generation nowadays where everyone has smartphones, everyone has some type of social media and there’s bound to be way too many people on those platforms for far too long daily. Now, I’m not some better than thou Gen X or Baby Boomer*, I’m 23 years old and these are my thoughts on social media.
When it comes down to it, I always thought social media to be a great means to network for artists, like myself, who are socially awkward and not super into selling oneself face to face (not to say it’s any easier on social media because lo and behold, it’s not). Then again you can painstakingly work away at networking in the social media world and get nowhere at all. I’ve had Instagram since early 2011 and until abandoning that account last fall, accrued a grand total of 200 followers (half of which were bots, in case you were wondering). Now you’re probably thinking that I must not have posted a lot or used tags and that’s why I didn’t have that many followers. Surprise, I had over 500 posts (not including the hundreds of others I’ve deleted over the years), all heavily tagged because that’s what you’re supposed to do right? If that’s not how you gain a following, then how do some of these people do it?
Most of those insta-famous people you’re thinking of right now? Odds are, they just got lucky or spent years painstakingly building an audience and, in the process, a very curated view of who they are and what they want to do with their “success”. Sure you’ll have some very good hearted people trying to get positive messages out there (ex. Nora McInerny, who I adore and seriously recommend to everyone) but then there’s the toxic side of it all. The side where people just want the likes and the “fame”, the ones who curate their lives so precisely that they fool everyone into believing their life is this perfect little thing where they get everything they’ve ever wanted. So, when it comes to Instagram, you have to be careful, selective even. Those people who try to curate their lives for likes and fame? You need to outthink them, find the good you want to see and get rid of the toxic energy.
Instagram is actually the only social media platform that I keep actively on my phone. However, I finely tuned the platform to fit my desires and reduce the toxicity being brought into my life. This meant making a new account, starting fresh, following only people that were inspiring to me. Around the same time as the fresh start on Instagram, I deleted my other social medias (Snapchat, being the major one that I needed to be freed from). Amazingly, so much can change over a little social media cleanse. In fact, you’ll find all this free time that you suddenly need to use for something more fulfilling. It’s simply amazing.
Now back to being a creator in this wonderful, social media powered world of ours. People say that anyone can be an artist but that’s a ton of bullshit if you ask me. You can work hard every day, make amazing, mind blowing work and get absolutely nowhere. People won’t know your name or your work unless you can network and make your way through the social media world. Being an artist is hard, grueling work. We can’t just make art. We’ve never really just been able to make art. We have to network, display on social media, push our work onto bigger audiences, hopefully get somewhere with showcasing your work and moving on from there. It’s not just making art and it never has been. Being one of the little guys is hard. You want to make work, make a living doing what you love (which I believe is entirely possible). Social media doesn’t make it easy, especially when you’re someone who doesn’t necessarily want to be on social media. If I want to be a “successful” artist, I have to be on social media. That’s just how it is these days.
I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that you, dear reader, and everyone should go out of their way to support the little guys. Support your local artists (I guarantee for wherever you live, you’ll have some local artist tags floating around social media). Just like how you should support small businesses, support small artists and creators. Also, I’d like to take the time to say to please use your platforms wisely. If you’re someone on social media, use it to do some good in this world of ours. We could always use more good, there’s simply never enough of it.
*I know not every Gen X or Baby Boomer thinks that social media is horrid, trust me, I hate when people stereotype people my age as self absorbed, lazy, social media obsessed millennials or Gen Z because, surprise, we’re not all like that either