Calling Bullshit On Social Media | Pink Slogan T-Shirt | 21.03.18
TOO OLD TO ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS?
For the past three years, I’ve been using social media platforms every single day, sometimes refreshing Instagram or Twitter for hours at a time. It’s bad for my brain, bad for my heart and bad for my thumbs, so why do I put myself through it? Well, I think it’s time for me to admit something that I’ve been lying to myself about for a long time: I hate social media. Like, I really hate social media.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been tempted to delete my Instagram account and start over. I’ve even been tempted to give up blogging, and it’s all because of the numbers game. Nobody is reading blogs any more, but everybody is using Instagram, and that’s a problem. Tell me, when was the last time you loaded up a blog on the bus or the train? I bet you can’t even remember, and that’s because it’s much easier to hop onto Instagram and scroll through a couple of photos, liking a few here and there, perhaps watching a story or two. As a blogger, you’re competing with Instagram, and as an Instagram user, you’re competing with everybody else. Unless you’re willing to become a slave to the algorithm, liking and commenting on posts every few hours, uploading perfectly curated photographs within the ideal time slot and using Instagram stories on the regular, you haven’t got a chance.
If social media wasn’t such a huge part of how the creative industries operate these days, this wouldn’t be a problem. However, as an artist and writer, I don’t feel like I have much choice. These days, social media has become an extension of who you are as a human being in certain sectors. A CV will no longer suffice when you’re applying for a job within the creative industries. Instead, employers want to see how many followers you have on Instagram or how active you are on Twitter and I feel extremely uncomfortable with that. Should anybody be judged first and foremost on how many eyes they can bring to a job? What about the skills and talents they possess? Don’t they count for anything?
In February, Evan Rachel Wood tweeted about how many films never get made because incredible actors who aren’t social media sensations aren’t considered valuable enough for the film to get financed. She warned how future films will increasingly feature social media stars and YouTube celebrities in lead roles, not because they are exceptionally talented, but because they can bring a pre-made audience to a film. After all, why take a risk with a nobody who has worked their way through acting school when you can pick up an Instagram star with 7 million followers?
The exact same thing takes place in the music industry. Artists can slog away for years trying to get a break while somebody who has never touched an instrument in their lives can get signed in a heartbeat if they can hold a tune, just because of their social media following. Of course, these occurrences are still rare within the film and music industries, but it is only going to become more common. Too often, social media puts numbers above everything else, and the prospect of talent being replaced by likes is deeply troubling to me.
Because of all this, I’ve found myself completely at a loss with how to use social media. I desperately want an audience to hear what I’m making, but the negative consequences of thinking about social media all the time are too much to bear. I’m sick of not feeling good enough. I miss using Instagram because it was fun, not because I’m thinking about my future career prospects. As it stands, I’ve resigned myself to hoping for a bit of luck. I cling to the stories of artists who appeared out of nowhere, because I don’t see myself gaining a few million followers anytime soon. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing and I have no plan to grow my social media following and it’s miserable. What a shitty first world problem to have, eh?
I don’t want to hate social media, but it’s hard not to. What are your thoughts on the whole thing? Do you find yourself in a similar dilemma to me?
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