Monday, December 3, 2012

How is Social Media affecting your Creative Mojo?

Question for you: 
 Does your creative mojo outpace the fierce fandom and regular (and loyal) usage of social media?
[Social media being: blogging, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Deviant Art, etc.]

My creative mojo used to be much like this plain black canvas largely because of the influence and impact of social media.

I believe I have breached this topic before but I thought I would talk a little more in depth as I have recently stumbled upon some situations that have really made me think more critically about it. 

I don't remember exactly when it happened but in the last few months I started noticing some things both about social media that I really didn't like because of how it was affecting my life. General things I noticed about it were this:
  • It made me lazy in my relationships. This includes both people and "things" (like creative endeavors).
  • It made me jaded and easily unimpressed which, in turn, made me passive-aggressive and "judgey" in the way I was thinking or reacting to what I was taking in. 
  • It made me feel both inspired and inadequate at the same time, which, in turn, made me unnecessarily envious and frustrated with the fact that I couldn't achieve/do/create/design in the same way as someone else.
  • It actively contributed to me being inactive - with my body, my mind, and (most importantly) my heart & soul.
Because of all of these things, I made what some folks have called drastic an unnecessary, the decision to cutback on how and what social media I use. The biggest thing of it was I removed myself from Facebook. I took a ton of flack for this and I even still get it from people on a regular basis. I also stopped bothering with Twitter - not that big of a deal because I already wasn't using it a ton. And, I seriously examined my blogging activity - though it might not seem like it because I have managed to keep a pretty regular schedule of Monday-Friday posting since the school year started with some recent exceptions.

Now, I don't bring all of this up to say that social media is bad or that anyone who uses it is bad either. I mean, you are reading the blog that I keep right now and that definitely is something of social media, right? (And I'd like to think that this blog isn't bad otherwise it would have gone the way of Facebook months ago which it didn't do.) My point in bringing this up is to perhaps inspire some internal conversation (in myself as much as for you) about the call we all feel to be creative and create but how it ends up existing dormant inside of us because of the noise and activity of so many other things these days and ultimately? It ends up slowly and painfully shriveling up inside until that feeling starts to suck up the rest of us as well. (So, I am talking about this as it relates to creation and creativity.)

I cannot tell you how many folks I come across on a regular basis - my student artists, my colleagues who are incredible artists outside of the non-art/creative content areas they teach, and fellow artists I meet by way of this blog and just general adventures of real-life - who have been impacted in seriously negative ways much like the ways I shared with you above about how it has impacted me.

Just the other day I had a conversation with an incredibly talented student artist who is just a freshman and has had very little formal training in the way of drawing. It has taken her months to finally bring in her personal portfolio for me to just look at (much less critique) and when she finally did it, I literally had to tell her in a very blatant way, "Do not talk while I am looking at it." Why? Because all of the narration and explanation she was giving me was negative and seriously untrue. This is because (I found out) she spends a ton of time trying to be a part of an online community of artists by the name of Deviant Art and rather than it inspiring her to create, it has only made her feel inadequate, unfairly critical, and incapable of designing or creating anything worthy of anything more than hiding away or discarding.

Now, like I said before, I don't begrudge the many conduits of social media or its vast communities of users. That's not my point in saying all of this. I am only trying to offer a perspective based upon my own personal experience and observations about how it is perhaps doing something to our innate capacities and yearnings to be creative and be creators. As a believer in the gospel, I believe it exists because the Lord (the most supreme creator and intelligent designer in all of existence) created man in His image therefore giving each of us seeds of being visionary like Him and the power to create like Him and this goes for people who are believers and not yet believers of the gospel!

I believe every single one us was created to create! This is why people who will openly profess to not be artists doodle in their folio pads during conferences/class instructional time or play with office supplies at their desks when they should otherwise be doing work. Creativity and creation is inside of us and it simply needs to be roused awake and then fed and cared for so it can thrive. But when you introduce social media into the equation? Well, that kind of media ends up pushing out and ultimately eliminating other kinds of media from our otherwise creative and creating selves.  The unfortunate thing is that it happens in such a way that we are far from being keenly aware of it because it convinces us that it's not so bad and then it starts seeping into and all over parts of our life without us until it's everywhere and everything. I mean... I make this sound kind of extreme but it sort of us like that. Harmless at first but can eventually be smothering the way it exists.

Anyway, if you are feeling stifled (or smothered, or wilting, or disintegrating) with your own creative inspirations, efforts, and overall investments, perhaps you are dealing with a similar situation as I was. And if you are? Well... it doesn't have to be that way. It really doesn't have to be that way at all.

ADDENDUM, 12/4/12 => Found THIS via during my morning blogrolling. It is so relevant to this topic! It speaks specifically about how to establish and maintain balance between your Online and Offline social lives rather than letting one dominate and replace the other.


  1. Andrea, I think that this is very thoughtful of you, as well as exceedingly pertinent. Lately I have been feeling very similarly--I find myself comparing my work and my ideas to others and coming up short. And that's not why God made us creative. It must be a slap in the face when He sees me selling myself short just because of some well-photographed project on Pinterest.

    You always post such interesting and open things, and I think this has the potential to start a real conversation amongst creatives. I've linked back to here from my own blog in the hopes that more people will be able to read what you've written and be inspired to disconnect with social media and reconnect with their inner creative.

    Thanks for such a thought-provoking topic on a Monday morning! :)

    1. Mrs. Connell - Kind of a heavy topic to kick start Monday but I really appreciate your thoughts on it and your willingness to share it to others so that it can be stewed upon by even more of us. I feel like the more that this topic is discussed and addressed as the problem that it is (both individually and at-large) the better off we all will be and the more creative and incredible our art endeavors will end up being.

  2. Great post. I can relate whole heartedly, to social media, at least making me lazy anyway. I also teach an online class, that takes up alot of my evenings. But I feel like that I can't give up. It is the money maker that F2F teaching isn't. Unfortunately, it sucks the creativity out of me as you mentioned in your post. Great topic.-Doug

    1. Doug - I was having that exact issue with my photography career. It was so lucrative for me and has really helped me to afford a lifestyle with my husband/for my family that teaching alone could never provide. Just the same, it still required me to sacrifice things of myself and my life that I realized didn't make it worth it. On top of all of this, it was a bit seductive and fed my ego in ways that I didn't like. (This is not to say that what you explained is the same thing but merely to talk about what I experienced personally.) Anyhow, I have been feeling for quite some time that I needed to stop doing photography professionally and I couldn't figure out why. I had the same arguments with myself much like what you cited for your online classes but the urge to quit became so strong for me that I couldn't ignore it and then something quite serious happened during some photography shoots (that I will discuss eventually) that made me really feel like I should have quit a long time ago when I had the notion to. (I'm being a little dramatic but I assure you - it was that dramatic.) Anyway, I finally quit and you might notice that what I have shared here on my blog and of my own personal creative endeavors has been very much transformed and I feel like for the better. My very first visual art mentor once told me - way back when I wasn't heeding the call to be the artist that I know I was created to be - that if I am obedient and abiding by the call to create, the rest of everything else will fall into place and I won't need to worry about the details. It took me years to understand this philosophy and approach to the creative process and my own creations but I must say that she was right. Things have definitely taken care of themselves in ways that I can hardly explain. The means that I have needed have materialized in the moments that I have needed them most and despite having to quit the lucrative photography work I once had, the rest of my life has fallen into place around my art endeavors to make all of it work harmoniously and with great unity. It's all an act of faith really - whether you are the type of believer I am or not! But if you have that whisper of "what if" inside of yourself? Why not follow it a ways and see how it all turns itself out. You might be pleasantly surprised and newly inspired to do great things with your artwork.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...