I recently divorced Instagram. This last year or so was the big social media Instagram experiment. Almost everyday I posted the off-the-cuff doodles I draw on the right side of my day planner under my tag @almostdailydoodle (still there!) The upside is that it makes a tidy little record of my innocuous art online. The downside is how much time Instagram was sucking from my life with all the posting, checking, liking. I thought I was above all that- I guess not.
Doodling is my morning creativity workout. It has become my main art form as of late, downshifting from ceramics and printmaking. It is fun to show my art now and again so I thought I would post them here occaisionally and see how it goes in a blog format.
“It’s a FOMO thing”, my new 22-year-old teaching teammate responded. I had noticed her phone on top of the copy machine as she was running copies for the day and I asked why she had it always within arm’s reach. “FOMO?” I asked. Close to retirement, I was not literate to millennial buzz words. “Fear of missing out.” She responded, not missing a beat. I remembered that feeling in high school and college but now it meant in a social media sense as well. The whole posting, sharing, liking, commenting, and texting thing was sort of passing me by.
Since that time I have become a smartphone user. For a while, I dipped my big toe in the world of Instagram and Facebook and I text when needed. As an artist, the word is “document, share, share, share, like, like, like”. But being a person easily distracted and easily overstimulated I backed off the social media thing. As a maker who does not have to make a living from my art, now I keep it to a bare minimum. I am not ”branded” so to speak. The trade-off is enjoying being in the moment.
The FOMO thing came back to me in another incarnation two weeks ago when I was at Craiceann, the weeklong bodhran camp I attended in Ireland (see my previous post). After a full day of classes and activities, I was pretty wiped-out. Being an introvert and in my 60s, I need a lot of recharge time and a good night’s sleep. I knew if I went out to catch the great music at the pubs that started at 9 PM and join in I would be a mess for my classes the next morning. It was difficult knowing what fun I was missing out on, especially hearing about it the next day from my new friends. I decided to compromise, making a deal with myself to go out the last evening for some late night fun.
Herein lies the concept of “JOMO,” the joy of missing out (this word was coined some years after FOMO). When we are so involved with FOMO & social connections we miss out on ourselves. We have no time to reflect, breath, savor, & notice. Those nights I stayed in were so lovely. I wrote in my journal, read, took dreamy walks at sunset and went to bed at a decent hour. I have no regrets. The last night I did go out and had great fun out playing in a pub. I rolled into bed at 3 AM exhausted. That was a great memory too but I suffered for it during my two days of travel time back to Oregon and had horrible jet lag after.
I’m glad I respected myself with a JOMO mindset during my holiday, not missing out on my own well-being (with that one exception). Sometimes missing out can offer the greatest gifts.
You missed out on all the music
Yes, but did you see the patterns of clouds dancing overhead?
You missed out on all the fun
Yes, but did you see the swallows dart about in the evening sky?
The spotted horse grazing peacefully in the paddock?
It all started with my decision to sell my artwork online. I spent hours setting up my shop on Etsy, learning how to photograph my artwork, figuring out shipping and then posting listings. Now I began the hard work of self-promotion so that my little enterprise could get found among the virtual soup that contained thousands of others.
My three new “how to” books on the subject all instructed me to start setting up social media accounts, get involved in forums, start posting, liking & commenting on a regular basis. This activity would eventually lure customers to my site, hopefully to buy.
Previous to this, as a Baby boomer I was quite happy with my life in the tangible world and saw no need to be a party to the social media craze. Nevertheless, trying to be open-minded, I set up the necessary Facebook & Instagram accounts to start and took the plunge. I started posting regularly. Unfortunately the prescribed practice of liking and commenting just to build a following seemed very sleazy to me so I dragged my feet on that. Then there were the apps that will like & share for you. Really? You can buy likes? No thanks.
Then suddenly, a Pandora’s Box of distractions was open to my brain. My somewhat ADD personality quickly became hostage to this mysterious world on the other side of the screen. I found myself constantly checking my posts & listings to see how many likes or comments they got. It was hard to tell myself from the other scrollers & tappers that were everywhere I looked. Who was this Pavlovian creature I had become?
Then recently, after over a year of this grand experiment, I realized that this whole exercise was sucking away too much time energy from my creative process. I had a few online sales but not enough to warrant all the effort. More so, my heart was just not into it & I wanted relief from the distraction.
It was an easy fix. I deleted the Facebook & Instagram apps off my phone & IPad. It took a couple of days for my mind to feel free of the social media sirens calling my name. I could be fully present again. My Instagram, Facebook & Etsy accounts are still active. The difference is that I manage them rather than them managing me. I peek in twice a week now either post &
then check for responses.
There was one social media platform that was left to me to try- blogging. About a month ago I put this blog up just to give it ago. The self- promotion goal I had for blogging instantly dissipated as I rekindled my love of self-expression through writing. What a nice surprise WordPress has been! Here is this great community of interesting people I can interact with. Now I am writing, reading, & commenting on others blogs because I want to, not because I should. This online experience continues to be meaningful in contrast to hollow exercises I had been pursuing on Facebook and Instagram.
My Etsy shop languishes as my desire for screen time has waned. Currently my internet store & social media accounts mostly serve as virtual portfolios for shows I enter. It appears that I am not cut out as an online entrepreneur. I’ve realized that selling my art in person offers me more financial & emotional rewards than the world of online commerce can offer. Back to the real world of face to face relationships & writing just for the love of writing. No regrets.
P.S. For what it’s worth, since you’re here, here are links to my social media accounts…..