It’s been a treat to watch as performers adapt their acts to online platforms. DJ sets, piano concerts, dance, and beatboxing all from the comfort of our own homes. This drive to perform is innate, in many of these folks you can’t turn that drive off.
Certain platforms enable this sort of content to thrive–live streams on Youtube or Instagram, or the new fan-favorite TikTok.
Most of these platforms focus on visual arts and visual creative output. What if your work is mostly written or idea based?
This is where many creators spread themselves too thin. You try to write poetry on post-its for Instagram or turn social captions into short-form blog posts because “that’s where people are”. These efforts don’t do those mediums justice and dilute your efforts..
If you focus on a skill like writing that doesn’t have a strong visual element, there’s little reason to put yourself on these visual platforms. Rather than spreading your effort around and trying to have an omnichannel presence, stick only to the ones that are building a community around the type of work you do. There’s Hello Poetry for poets, and Medium for writers, and even Github for coders.
Ask Yourself “Why” You’re There
Too many people sign up for platforms because their peers are doing it without asking if that community is a space where their best work thrives, and without asking if showing up there is getting them closer to their goals. We pour hours into a perfect feed when we could be developing a practice of creating work regularly.
I’m not convinced many of these platforms are worth our time for any use case (it’s building a house on rented land for one, more on that here) because their business models actively distract us from creating art. How many wannabe writers or painters are out there who haven’t written a page or picked up a paintbrush, but have shared to social media at least twice this week?
I bet the numbers would be sickening (I know I’ve been that person), especially if you looked not just at posts made but at the time spent scrolling (definitely been that person too). *head explodes*
Be A Creator, Not A Consumer
And because I can’t resist a tangent to slam the toxic outcomes social behemoths are handing out…
What if you use them “just for fun”? That’s a tough pill for me to swallow when there are countless other endeavors you can take up that are super fun and aren’t proven to be bad for mental health, body image, and our ability to pay attention. (And that don’t hand more cash to Mark Zuckerberg)
How about to “stay connected”?
Is passively stalking someone’s photos really staying connected? If you wouldn’t pick up the phone to call or text that person, what kind of friendship is that…really? It’s time to redefine what it means to be connected.
Sure, you have access to hundreds or thousands of people, but if you never directly interact with them you’re merely treating your peers as reality tv stars you like to watch. When I die I’d much rather be remembered as a creator, not a passive consumer.
It’s Time For A Digital Spring Cleaning So You Can Focus Your Impact
Regardless of why you first signed up, it’s time for spring cleaning of the places you show up online & maintain a presence.
And if you don’t want to create change in the world or have an impact, and never want to give up playing the scrolling-bottomless-cereal-bowl-of-content game…you’re reading the wrong blog.
Anytime you put yourself out there online you’re performing. You’re performing because you have to actively choose what face, what character, or what representation of yourself is being published–you’re not getting there passively.
So, if you do want to write the next great American novel, what kind of performance is sharing photos of your morning smoothie and avocado toast? Is that practice helping you battle the blank page and write something you can share with others? Remember, your work is an extension of the things you do daily or with regularity, and the different ways you perform online add up into a body of work…plus an actual body & mind that get trained to either distract itself or create work that matters. Choose wisely.
Being everywhere for everyone, and on all the time, is only depleting your resources of time and attention. To truly create something worth paying attention to you need to focus your energy. Don’t practice the wrong skills. It’s easy to get really good at Instagram or email, but if you want to create a masterful work of art you’re going to need to be more selective about the skills you choose to spend time on.
What skills did you choose to reinforce today, and which things did you let get in the way?