I realized the importance of continually reflecting on the unconscious decisions I make in life and consistently reevaluating my life as whole. Today I thought about a seemingly subtle, yet big part of my life-social media.
I believe that social media has truly revolutionized the way we perceive ourselves and each other. Through social media, we are able to keep up with many people in a little amount of time and space. I am able to see, read, and hear the daily events of my family, friends, and celebrities. Because of social media, I am more aware of the world around me.
One question I had while reflecting on social media was Why do I feel the need to post things about myself on social media? My first conclusion was that so I could keep my friends and family informed in an effortless way. Thinking deeper, I realized that for the friends and family that do matter to me, they know most of what I post about already; they know I went on a hike today, that I got a new job, and that my cousins are adorable. For these relationships, social media was not necessary or vital to sustain and grow these relationships. While I did post on social media to share with these people, it wasn’t the reason I kept up with my accounts.
My second conclusion was one that I think is a little more accurate, for me personally, anyways. It is that I post on social media to express myself- my thoughts and feelings on my life and how blessed/sad/pensive/etc I feel at the current moment.
Is this a good or bad thing? I then ponder. Well, I suppose social media has been another medium through which people create. For example, many Instagram accounts are filled with beautiful, artsy photography. There are Instagram accounts that showcase intricate eye makeup. There are also accounts that showcase talented drawers. These people use Instagram to express themselves creatively, as I’m sure do many others. I am grateful for Instagram because I love looking at the wonderful content I would not have been exposed to otherwise.
However, I believe there is one aspect to social media that is detrimental to me creatively. It is that I use social media in replace of another medium. For example, I find I express myself best through words. Twitter is very attractive to me because I can express myself quickly and concisely, my exact feelings and opinions published almost instantaneously as I write them. Yet, this worries me because I feel like the little doses of thoughts, feelings, and opinions I accumulate throughout the day are little doses of creative energy spent on meaningless Tweets. Instead of channeling these doses into a larger, perhaps more significant medium of journaling or blogging, I relieve my urge to write with a 20-second-minimum-thought-needed tweet.
I think I worry about this mainly because of a book called The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. This book was written by the author and poet Sylvia Plath as a young adult. In the journal, she writes her thoughts transparently with well-formed sentences describing her exact moments. Many of her feelings I can relate to today, and I am in awe of her ability to describe her feelings so precisely and relatably that I feel as if I know the exact emotion she experienced (and therefore, I am able to better relate to her). The amazing thing is,when Sylvia Plath was journaling, she never expected her journal to be read, much less be published for thousands to read. If she had had twitter, would these journals have been written in the same quality? Would they have been written at all? Even more pressing or disturbing, do I have the ability to create and develop my words in the quality of Sylvia Plath’s through a journal (or blog), but haven’t, because I’ve spent my creative energy on tweeting?
It is so hard for me to express myself creatively and to get myself to take the time out to write a few thoughtful sentences, and yet I do not hesitate to tweet about my life multiple times a day. I fear that I use social media as an artificial release for my creative energy that releases my need to express, yet leaves me nothing but mere 140-character thought snippets.
I am sure many people do NOT have this issue, and devote themselves to improving their creative gifts through more traditional mediums. I am sure there are also other people that may argue with me and say Instagram, Twitter, Vine, etc. are valid forms of creative medium that do have worth. I would just caution others, especially young artists growing up with social media, to be aware of what they spend their creative energy on. While writing a tweet may take a fraction of the time it takes to reflect and thoughtfully write a journal entry or blog post, what will benefit you as an artist in the long run?
NOTE: From July 23, 2014 I will no longer be active on my social media accounts. Instead, I will be devoting time to my relationship with God, family, and friends, as well as to reading and writing. HOWEVER, I don’t consider this blog social media (creativity sucker) so will hopefully continue to post).