Social media is a part of our daily lives and we have never been more connected with our "neighbours" across the world with a click of a button at our fingertips. The social affects of social media is an ongoing debate but we cannot deny the fact that the number of users and the time that we spend on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc accounts is increasing at an alarming (and concerning) rate. We live in a world where we love to consume but our attention span is extremely short. We discover something shiny and new today and then we are onto the next new hype by tomorrow! Although music is my niche this blog applies to all creative forms from visual arts, performing arts, design and anything that entails innovation. Like most topics of discussion there is always two sides. It is up to us individually to do research and manage how we use our social media as a tool to benefit our creativity. However as of late it appears that social media bears more of a negative influence on our creativity. In my previous blog "Apples vs Oranges: An Unhealthy Predicament", I discuss about the dangerous comparison trap that we often find ourselves in on social media. Most blame social media for negatively affecting creativity but there are advantages of how social media can be used in a positive and progressive manner for creative individuals like myself as a musician!
1) Learning New Skills
We literally have the world's knowledge right in our palms that can be accessed at any time of the day. We can access textbooks, resources and news all from the web. Education has evolved where computers are replacing chalk/whiteboards and we can learn how to change a tire from the web. I personally don't like the idea of having technology run the classroom in elementary but, learning today can now be solely independent and self-directed.
2) Community for Learning
I've been a part of many groups from school projects, music collaborations and creative groups where it serves as a platform to share information and ideas, discuss projects, to help build networks, and to learn. It creates a supportive community where growth is nurtured. A lot of social media provide opportunities for engagement from peers to provide constructive criticism (although we know in reality there are trolls who want to rip us apart) and feedback. This creates an environment for growth and improvement - an essential part of being a creator.
3) Building Influence & Marketing
In an industry like music social media is an essential part of the career - it's literally part of the "job description". Social media is the platform required to build presence, influence and a loyal fan base. Without social media I wouldn't be able to share my sound, message and music with listeners across the world. The music industry is much different than it was in the 90s. Going into the studio, being on tour and performing was the way to build your influence. Today the social media market allows us to share and promote our craft from the comfort of our room making it a lot easier for us as creators to spread the word and influence of our brand. New and upcoming brands can grow much quicker and platforms such as Facebook and Instagram provides pages for business and catered to specific needs of the brand.Two notable independent successful creators whom I follow are Kina Grannis and Lilly Singh aka. Superwoman.
Most social medias now support all types of media from photos, GIF, videos and music allowing designers and artists a way to network and to connect with their peers. Technology has allowed us to search and learn new things in one consolidated space (ie. Facebook, Pinterest, instagram etc) in less time and effort. We can view thousands of portfolios and listen to as many albums to explore new ideas and gain inspiration for our next projects when we hit a creative lull.
CREATIVITY IS HINDERED..
Most often than not, social media gets a bad reputation because most of us do not use it properly. In fact we are allowing ourselves to be dominated and in some cases, defined by the web. We have merely become addicted and distracted from productive work and simple social interactions.
1) Increased "Competition"
As mentioned above, it is easier than ever for designers and artists to upload and share their work for the world to see. It provides those who do not have access to resources the same playing field as those who are a little more fortunate. This allows us to be curators of our own craft and at the same time to be given the same "opportunity" for our work to be recognized. But this doesn't mean that the everything that is uploaded is good quality. If everybody including beginners can now share all their work online, this means the good work gets lost in a sea of other content making it harder for quality creators to stand out.
2) Information Overload
We are in a constantly consuming culture where we feed off of new content. And that is what social media gives us - new content every second of the day. We're searching for new designs, ideas, updates etc and we buy into that "supply and demand" cycle by sharing our own material online. We are fed so much information everyday, but we do not know what and how to use this information. With such easy accessibility to information, sometimes with no regard to ownership makes it easy for material to be stolen. Stealing of intellectual property is extremely easy therefore it is important for us as creators to do our research and protect our work.
3) Losing Time
It is a very scary fact how much time we spend on our electronic devices. Most of the time we have no real purpose (including myself I will sadly admit) and it's like we are programmed to reach for our phones every opportunity we can. A lot of it can be attributed to the culture where the higher the number of "likes" and "followers/subscribers" determines greater success. We are literally addicted and the time we spend checking our social media takes away from productive and creative work where our energy should be allocated towards, which leads to the next 2 points...
4) Creativity Is Reduced
Creators are aware of the algorithms that social media utilizes so that their work can gain the most traction on as many people's feed as they can. Engagement and interactions are highly monitored and this determines how many "impressions" your work can make. So it makes sense that the more time we spend on our social media "managing" these algorithms it will somehow work to our advantage. To this day, I have no f***in idea how to play this game. But the time spent doing all this drains all your energy. And being a creator of anything requires energy. Viewing other people's works does have its place in the creative process but when it starts to create unhealthy comparisons, this detracts energy from starting your own project. There are a lot of inspiration that can be gained through social media but it must be balanced - I am definitely learning this the hard way.
5) Out of Touch From Reality
I see this with my nephew all the time and I am scared to see how the rest of the generation unfolds. At only 7 years of age, my nephew's "addiction" is apparent. Social media has created generations where we are so well connected but at the same time, extremely disconnected. Basic social interaction skills are at its lowest because the main form of communication is through text, email, and DMs. We don't even talk on the phone anymore - we don't even have basic auditory interaction where we can hear emotions and expressions through our voices where intentions are completely up for interpretation in text writing only. Humans are naturally social - I think we all long and are in search for finding deep connections with other people and this can only be done through person to person interactions. By direct engagement and discussions, we can learn about situations, experiences, emotions that can spark our creative ideas and inspire new approaches for that next project. With social media, we can connect with so many people from all four corners of the world but there are limits!
We have to understand that social media does provide a great tool for creators from all avenues to learn, obtain inspiration, promote, communicate with peers, build brand influence and find opportunities. However when we overindulge (in anything really), most often than not we succumb to the disadvantages and social media will start working against us as creators of content. What do you think? Have you been using social media as a way to further your craft or has it created a barrier for your creative juices? Share in the comments below!