Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pearls before swine

I really hate social media right now.  It seems like the more time I spend trying to "connect" with people on Facebook and Twitter, the less I get out of it.  I have nearly 400 "followers" on Twitter and I'm pretty sure only about 20 of them are actually interested in my art.  For a while I was convinced that most of them were spam-bots, but I did a Fake Follower Check with Status People and, according to their calculations, 99% of them are real.  I have 76 people who "Like" my art on Facebook, yet nothing I post on there gets shared.  I feel like an idiot when I post things online and no one responds, like I am talking to myself in public.  When I work so hard to maintain a social media presence and share information about other artists and designers that I think would be of interest to people who like my work and no one reads it, or send out invitations to my shows and no one shows up, I get that dreadful alone in a crowd feeling.  I feel like people are around me but not with me.

I still like blogging, though it can be hard to stay motivated when no one leaves comments anymore except for spammers, and Google seems to think this blog is only about those pictures I took of a certain dead celebrity's childhood home in Gary, Indiana. I still like Flickr, though it seems like the communities there are not as active since the rise of Instagram (yawn), Facebook, and Twitter.  But I still have accounts at both Facebook and Twitter because I feel obligated to.  It's become essential.  It's kind of like having a phone.  Though in my case it's like having a phone but only getting calls from telemarketers and being bombarded with text messages from a service that won't let you unsubscribe.

When I am feeling cynical, I start thinking that the only reason people go online anyway is to look at porn.  What use do they have for fine arts or anything requiring a vocabulary beyond a few four letter words?  When I am feeling especially contemptuous, sometimes I even think that the only time the rest of the world truly takes notice of a person's online publications is when that person becomes the subject of media attention for other reasons, like if they are under investigation for kidnapping or murder.  Suddenly, their every word becomes important and each phrase is scrutinized and analyzed by pundits and talking heads. Yes, the depraved notion that infamy is the best publicity. But you shouldn't have to become a porn star or a 21st century Roxie Hart in order to matter on the internet.

Broadcast Yourself - The Doll Project
Is this all the Internet is good for?  
Is this what you have to do to get people to pay attention?

I feel like the promise of social media still has not been fulfilled.  Instead of profound discussions and meaningful connections, we have trite missives about how drunk people are right now and stupid cat videos and vile, grammatically atrocious YouTube comments.  Because of my introverted nature, I had been hoping to use social media as a crutch and online networking as a substitute for real networking.  Back when I was still trying to become a screenwriter, I had some pretty bad experiences while trying to network in person and got my feelings hurt so many times by wannabe Hollywood types that I just kind of gave up on the idea of schmoozing.  But now I realize that there really is no substitute for getting out and meeting people. 

The Chicago art world people I've met so far have been really nice.  Someone once mentioned how small the art community here is, despite being  in such a large city, and I'm finding that to be true.  It's nice to meet people who are who they say they are, instead of all the Twitter phonies proclaiming themselves to be experts, coaches, gurus, and future billionaires.  They're no better than the Hollywood wannabes I mentioned earlier.

The Internet is an airless space, too two-dimensional to allow for true interaction.  And perhaps because of this, art sales are still averse to it.  Without the milieu of the gallery, without the collectors gazing contemplatively at the art, wine glasses in hand, without the eccentrically dressed art students and their sketchbooks and their bottles of PBR, without white walls or rough-hewn pop-up spaces, the Internet lacks that certain je ne sais quoi that going to an art show in person has.  And besides, going to art shows is a great excuse to come up with a killer outfit.

So I'm still going to keep this blog going, and my Facebook and Twitter accounts.  But I'm not going to put as much time or effort into Facebook or Twitter as I did before since it's not paying off for me and I don't enjoy it anyway.  I will keep blogging, mainly for the sake of my new book I'm working on.  But from now on all this Internet stuff is secondary and I am focusing my networking efforts where they count: in person.


  1. Hi Tiffany!
    I found you via the skinnyartist comment - your comment was very truthful and applies to many of us artists. I have the same feelings about social media as you at times - but, once in a while the hard work does pay off - not so much for me with facebook/Twitter, but with my Blog. Your work is so vibrant and full of life and colour, it really is quite stunning! Glad to know you and keep creating and blogging :)

  2. Liza,
    I got 4 comments on this post since I published it last night, and yours was the only one that wasn't spam! Seriously, though, I do appreciate your comment and I am glad we connected via The Skinny Artist. I just found that site last week and I really like it.

  3. Hi, Tiffany!

    (I'm not spam, lol.)

    I'm so glad to hear somebody else say this! It seems like everyone is always yammering on about how you need to take advantage of every possible social media outlet to be successful. It's free advertising! Get fans! Blah, blah, blah. Personally, I find most of it boring at best, vomit inducing at worst. I gave it a legitimate shot, but I hate facebook with a passion, and despite people "liking" me, I deleted my account, and am so glad. It's just a billion people all screaming Look at Me! at the top of their lungs, but no one actually connecting at all. Like Liza, I get the most out of keeping a blog, and keeping up with (& commenting on) other blogs I dig. Oh, and flickr. Flickr rules. That's how I found your blog, btw. :)

  4. Thanks, Smidge Girl! It's a small world. Your shop is one of my favorites on Etsy. I saw your posts on Flickr and was like, her screen name looks familiar. I think what you said about social media being "a billion people screaming Look at Me! at the top of their lungs" is what's wrong with it right now. I think eventually more people will see that this is what's happening with social media.

    In the meantime, I am glad we have Flickr. Last night I came across some great groups I hadn't heard of before and was happy to see how active they were.

  5. I think you're totally right on this. The core is the message and in a world with so much noise, in-person, real-life connections are more important than ever. Because social media is so accessible, I think it's also really disposable. I tweet and FB for work, but I use those to reinforce the real-life human connection we already have. I hope that's helpful.

  6. Thanks, Jacqueline! I agree, I think social media is a good way to stay in touch with people once you have met them in real life. And the fact that it is disposable makes it less valuable.


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