I've been thinking about social media "following" habits... and now I have the Genesis song, Follow You, Follow Me in my head. (Not that the song has to do with social media followers, but it's in my head, nevertheless.)
Social media fascinates me, much like watching people at the mall or the "reality" tv show, The Bachelor. Frankly, it amuses me. And annoys me. And sometimes even angers me. But it also can be an amazing place of community, connecting people near and far. The latter is what keeps me hanging around and trying new things.
Six months ago I got my husband's "hand-me-down" iPhone. I, very purposefully, refused to own a smart phone for many years but something pushed me over the edge... I wanted Instagram. True story.
Because I cannot simply hide in my studio, creating work all day and expecting that unicorns will carry it out into the world, I need to be intentional about making myself visible. And social media is a great way to invite people into your world. There was something about a primarily visual platform, like Instagram, that finally had me excited about this whole social media rodeo. It felt like it would be a good fit for me. (Although, I really should work on that unicorn idea.)
I was very intentional of starting fresh with Instagram. No one knew I was there and I decided to let it be an organic process - if you came across my work and it resonated with you enough for you to like it, comment or follow me - great. If I came across someone's work and it resonated enough for me to like, comment or follow - then that's what I did. If it was primarily someone's personal life or the work didn't feel like something I'd be wanting to see in my feed - then I decided to stick to the vision rather than feel any sense of social media obligation. Instagram was going to be my social media creative happy place - an artistic community! Each platform has its own function and purpose (and I am happy to utilize them all but in their own ways) - I don't need to add to the noise, seeing the same stuff, interacting the exact same way in a whole bunch of places. And sometimes I'll need to post the same content on different platforms (like today with a new blog to share) but Instagram has helped me to carve out something different among the platforms. A different way to interact and create community. Less noise: yes, please.
My little Instagram community has been a joy. I've connected with people all over the world! My numbers are low and I'm content with the slow growth - because it feels authentic and good. There are, however, some odd patterns that I've noticed in my day to day notifications:
Why do we care about the numbers if the community is inauthentic? Wouldn't it be better to have 5 people that get what you do, joining your community because something resonates with them, rather than 10,000 who are bought and paid for? If your work speaks to me then I'm going to offer my social media support (via all those likes, comments and follows) without strings attached. And I want the same for you. Otherwise, it doesn't feel right. And that will certainly trickle down into how I interact with others, and even what I'd share, on my page.
My utopian social media views may be unconventional and perhaps even unpractical - but I don't give a unicorn's behind. And the longer I stick with my vision and goals, the more I see the fruits of staying true. I have discovered an inspiring and positive creative community on Instagram. Doing things in a way that sits right with me - not because it's simply the way the world normally operates - is absolutely the right thing to do. So, go ahead and follow me if you want to. I may or may not follow you too. But no matter what, let's be kind and authentic in our interactions.