Friday, April 17, 2009

Six Different Ways...

If you are an artist, hobbyist or someone who promotes things, or you just like to be in the know or "tuned in" you probably belong to or use several different social networking sites. This past Monday I decided to take a break from all of these sites and just see what it felt like to only check one blog, my email, and keep posting my daily photos on blip. Even that is enough to keep one busy, my usual routine includes two blogs, myspace, facebook, twitter, along with blip and my email, not to mention the countless other blogs I read and comment on.

So are you connected? You are? But are you connected enough? How much is too much? What are we gaining from this and what are we losing?

While trying to avoid these sites, I tuned into Pandora Internet radio and started working on my neglected "to do" list. If you must know, I was listening to the New Order station I created-and The Cure's 6 Different Ways came on, and I started thinking of it as a metaphor for social networking...

6 Different Ways © The Cure

This is stranger than I thought
Six different ways inside my heart
And everyone I'll keep tonight
Six different ways go deep inside

I'll tell them anything at all
I know I'll give them more and more

I'll tell them anything at all
I know I'll give the world and more
They think I'm on my hands and head
This time they're much too slow

Six sides to every lie I say
It's that American voice again
It was never quite like this before
Not one of you is the same

This is stranger than I thought
Six different ways inside my heart
And everyone I'll keep tonight
Six different ways go deep inside

I know I am grasping, and I know I could just talk about my experiences with social networking sites and be done with it, but I wanted to shake it up a bit.

If you really allow yourself to think about it, these sites are strange! If I was not promoting my art, my name, or the galleries that represent my work, I am not sure why I would be on them. However, I make my living from these things and I have been conditioned by the media to believe these sites are valuable tools so I use them. I agree that there are many benefits to online social networking. I have made some amazing connections, friendships, received valuable feedback, inspiration, emotional support, not to mention renewing old friendships and making money all while using these sites. People from around the country and the world know of me and my work because of them. At the same time, to fully utilize these sites it seems one needs to invest a lot of time and energy in the process. You get back what you put in and nothing is free.

There are now six different ways to contact me, message me, get in my head and even inside my heart. We witnessed the whole giving to the sick friend fiasco a while back all via social networking sites.Yes, it mobilized people and was inspiring but it also crashed at my feet and caused me tremendous worry and time loss. I am also a person who keeps all the conversations with people known and unknown inside me. I take them seriously and put a lot of time into my relationships with people I care about. Sometimes, keeping up with everyone on these sites can be a bit overwhelming.

Maybe the more I think about it, the more sad it makes me feel. On the one hand I have knowledge of so many brilliant artists and art lovers all over the world thanks to myspace, twitter and facebook, but I also have the unfortunate knowledge of what they ate for dinner, who is having a breakdown, who is bored, and often who is lonely, all sent to me in little tweets, status bar updates, bulletins, and comments.

Back to the lyrics, I'll give them more and more and I do, there have been times when I want to bolster, support, encourage, inform these complete strangers so much that I spend more time with them than I do dealing with my own issues, my own family, my own real life that sits behind me waiting for attention. I won't say, I tell them anything at all or that there are 6 sides to every lie I say but I will say I do present my best light and a controlled view of my life. You are getting my best self minus the "I eat too much when stressed and I haven't done laundry in weeks" and "I am feeling guilty for not cleaning more often" because that is not what you come here for or who I want to present publicly. Before I wrote a blog I would read other people's posts and feel completely inadequate, these people read good books, traveled places, had lots of friends, were sharing photos of the elegant meals they prepared. I didn't live that way and felt bad that I didn't. Envious that I didn't live up and then I realized...this was their spin on their life, their best self; edited, made witty and clever. Smart and crisp: an adventure perfect for a blog post. You start to even view the world as a series of stories you can tell, are you living them in the moment? Who cares- this is going to make a great blog post, bulletin, or status bar message. Look at me! Look at me! Then the year passes and you realize you haven't felt it- you just reported it.

It can be a seductive and dangerous loop. We put something out into the world, we want a reaction. We wait for the reaction. The reaction comes, and then we do it again and again, and not only on one site but on many sites, all the while continuously checking for new and better reactions, for more feedback. It is a game of call and response, and we become slaves to the machine.

This marks day five in my vacation from the space, the face, and the tweets. I feel alive and content in this moment and I have just reported it to you so it must be real.

It was never quite like this before


  1. And now you can even untangle your twits -

    Seriously, you are SO right (in the last few paragraphs).

  2. At some point, there is maximum overload. I've found Twitter to be the straw breaking my creative back. While I love reading everyone else's tweets (for the most part, and if the links are good), I really have very little to say in 140 characters. I seldom update because if I don't care what I ate for breakfast, why should anyone else?

    And don't get me started on Facebook. Every kid I sat next to in Biology lab thirty years ago is sending me inane online "gifts."

    I'm becoming a social network curmudgeon.

  3. This is stranger than I thought..

    yeah.. it is.

    i think it has become a victim of it's own success; everything will fold in on itself, it has been spread to far now..

    i started by being told 'get a blog' at an art lecture.. it's free.. promote yourself..
    so i did.. still have it..
    the rest.. well i tried myspace as you know.. then got a little fed up with the 'glitter ponies' as gifts.. and the countless 'artists' that post their 'fab art auctions'
    the danger of the internet is the lack of quality control, everybody is an artist and musician..
    after a while you lose the ability to filter out all the crap..
    so i quit them all.
    the on thing that will survive this is the physical object that can't be represent through digital means; something that exists outside the edited manipulated world..
    as long as you have that, then the rest can go to hell in a hand-cart.

  4. This is really interesting.
    On the one hand it's so great having all of these social networking sites. It's good for promotion, it's good for keeping in contact with friends and family, and it makes me feel connected with the rest of the world while I'm here in Pontiac, Michigan...

    Working at home, so close to my computer most days, I feel like you and some of the other people I've grown to know via internet are more like my "co-workers". I know that sounds kind of weird, but it's kinda true for me.

    and yes, there is this weirdness to it. I don't really want to know what someone eats for dinner, or how their love life is going. and I, too, have felt that perfect person syndrome.

    and I can completely relate the new and better reactions feeling too. Where sometimes you are trying to think of a really great blog post, or best comment, or whatever...I get that totally. and it is an energy, and time, suck.

    at the same time I've met some really wonderful, inspiring people here (like you!) and I don't think I would be half as successful selling online if I didn't promote myself through these sites. I've gotten numerous blog features, interviews, and even gallery shows this way. These have all led to so many other opportunities that I can't even count them.

    I guess, like most things, you have to have balance. :)

    I hope you don't stay away for too much longer Megan!! I miss one of my favorite "co-workers." But, if you do decide to, I would totally understand! Take care!

  5. thanks for your comments...

    It really is a double edged sword.
    Many rewards and many pitfalls, it is a problem of balance like Michele says. I am glad you commented Michele because you use these sites expertly and more in the way that I am used to. We are both full time artists and we are always promoting and making connections in this way. I agree about the co worker statement. I do think of many of the other artists on the web as my co workers and it's coffee break time, and here we all are. It does provide a wonderful sense of connection and gives the artist a lot of power in the way we manage our careers.

    As long as we stay in control, and don't become overwhelmed with requests for advice, help, or just plain noise and can learn to filter out the good from the bad. Like Supervisor says- we are bombarded with so much and it's not all good or inspiring.

    And as Monda referred, why suddenly am I being "poked" or gifted an electronic Mai Tai from someone who never gave me the time of day in school 20 years ago. It is an odd phenomenon.

    And Kev- Now "we can untangle our twits..." surely this is a sign that the end is nigh. :)

    I am not leaving forever, but I am coming to some conclusions about these sites and how I want to use them differently in the future and resetting my brain by taking some much needed time away. It is funny, even in the past few days I have heard a song that was so amazing and though "Man I wish I could post that video to my facebook page or send out a rock and roll bulletin to myspace..." But perhaps I am the only one who needs to enjoy that song right now, maybe it is time to keep something precious for ourselves.

  6. Megan,
    Again your bravery in sharing is great, and you have connected with some of your fellow artists/promoters etc, including me.

    I know exactly what you mean and its a conclusion that I came to after spending a week without the internet AT ALL, on purpose, last autumn. It was liberating to not log on. Since I got back to it, I am much more aware on the time I waste on it, and now I use it as the tool it was initially intended to be for me when I started promoting myself. I only keep in touch on a personal level with people I really like, in fact my facebook is a personal site - I know everyone on there. Myspace is a much looser affair - almost purely to just keep me on the map, so to speak. Twitter annoys the **** outta me and now I only follow a few and use it as a promotion tool for etsy and new paintings. Blip is a personal enjoyable past-time - I've always wanted to do something like that. My blogs get updated as and when I feel like it now.

    I reckon that you will come back to a chosen few and perhaps do some "weeding".

    Good luck and enjoy that liberation :))


  7. Megan- I really apprentice this post too. I haven't blogged or hardly commented on others blogs for the last few weeks and am fighting feeling like I should. I've had a lot going on in my life (good growing things) and in how I see my art and what not and I haven't been in the groove to blog or be that social. And that's o.k., needed and is probably something to do every now and again to re-prioritize. Boundaries keep us healthy And yes this all is so strange but amazing too. We are pioneers on the great internet frontier :)(hehe)

  8. fyi, I just posted this post to FB. So you're on FB without you being on FB. Yeah, I'm the devil.

  9. i've been especially funny in your (marked) absence... i dont twitter, rarely myspace anymore, but my defense i have sold some art from facebook, but i must admit that it is addicting and a welcome mind numbing entertainer. since we still dont have embodied friends here in the rock its nice to pretend and feel close to "people", and i love to season the stew with my salty cynicism! enjoy your vacation!!! let me know if you come across any good new music. i recommend lonely drifter karen, especially the song giselle, but i dont think they are on pandora. clint sends his love, and so do i.

  10. Thanks all for your comments!

    Debs- I remember your time off well. I hope I will remember mine once I do return. It is easy to get sucked right back in, and it is free publicity so you do want to stay "on the map" like you say.
    We will see what happens- but yes- some weeding and some restraint on my part for sure.
    Heather-I agree it is amazing. And I hope you continue to do what you need and want to do rather than do what you feel you "should." Boundaries are important.
    Dede- being the promoter that I am. I am very happy you posted this on facebook, I was hoping someone would. "yeah, I'm the devil.."
    Flannery- I have heard you have been exceedingly funny in my absence and I have no doubt will be the reigning facebook queen in no time at all. I understand about the friends thing and being connected- and you season the stew like no one else so keep on keeping on. Thanks for the music rec- I checked her out on you tube.

    Okay all- a couple of cool things have happened this week during my facebook absence,that I am excited about but I will save that for Friday's blog. Best wishes to all and thanks for reading and commenting- I really appreciate all your feedback.

  11. I know exactly what you are saying...and I find myself involved in things I had always said "never" about. Realizing this, I did set some guidelines for myself, and am sticking to them. Your post is a good reminder!