Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve yet to really embrace this whole social media thing. Yes, I have the various accounts; Facebook, Twitter, MySpace. But I’ve yet to send a tweet, and I’m horrible at getting back to everyone who sends me messages on the other two. Truth is, I have really mixed feelings about it all, and this has led to today’s blog posting.
First, let me say that I have no inherent ill will towards any of these mediums. I recognize all of the undeniable good that they can offer, both personally and professionally. And I also recognize that these mediums represent the “new way” that many prefer to connect with those musicians, authors and artists that they admire. And in the same way that I feel like it is our obligation to try to get our work out to folks in whatever form they prefer to receive it, let’s face it, social media is another viable form… even if it’s just to let people know about the work. So, yeah, I know I probably have to warm up to the concept of social media and find my groove with it.
Still, here are three fundamental observations/concerns I have about the whole thing that I wanted to throw out there to you guys, especially as it all relates to the mind/body connection, as well as one’s creative life:
The Clutter Factor
As a general week-to-week practice, I always try to find those valuable pockets of nothingness… those stretches of time in my life where I can embrace a little empty space, even if it’s for only five or ten minutes. This is where so much of those cool, creative inspirational nuggets emanate from. And I’m not just talking about the formalized practice of entering the Sacred Space (as we discussed some months back in an entry here). I’m talking about simply finding a little room in your day to ponder, reflect, decompress, and just be in the moment, unattached to anything in particular that might be demanding your attention on any level.
To this end, I often try to eliminate or scale-down certain activities and distractions, thus freeing up some more potential nothingness time. So when contemplating any kind of daily routine for maintaining social media stuff, we now have more accounts to log into, more messages to respond to, more things to comment on, and, in general, more stuff taking up space on our “hard drive” (brain). And when you consider this in the context of all the other things potentially eating away at our time, like phone calls, text messages, e-mails, Internet, TV, etc., this leaves even less time to just be, to engage the Grand Nothingness.
No doubt, I’m sure there’s a happy medium here somewhere. But where social media is concerned, I think we would all do well to run our own check and balance system as to how much time we spend juggling all of these accounts vs. keeping tuned into trying to grab some quality nothingness time here and there. Personally speaking, I really don’t think every spare moment has to be spent engaging a lot of what we wind up engaging in these mediums.
Virtual Moment vs. Actual Moment
Another thing to think about is this; it seems like so much of what we deal with in social media is sort of a second-hand experience… the virtual moment vs. the actual moment. For example, when someone posts “I just finished dinner with friends,” there are two sides to that experience. First, there was the actual, in-the-moment experience of having that dinner; the time, place, circumstances, backstory, conversation, the sensory experience of enjoying the food, the reflective nature of eating, the before, during and after. The actual experience. But once you try to tweet about it, or commit it to a one-sentence Facebook post, it now becomes a virtual experience, one big step removed from all that it was in the moment.
Now, on one level – fair enough. In a way, that’s what writing is… the author’s attempt to convey an actual experience to the virtual reality of the reader interpreting what you’ve written. But, it just seems like with the sheer volume and general nature of all of these “reports” and “updates,” we are simply consuming more data, without the benefit (in most cases) of experiencing any sense of enrichment as a result. We become bottomless filters to an endless barrage of bits of information that is so massive in scope, we are incapable of extracting much meaning from it, even though it could have had meaning and relevance to the original experiencer.
This should scare the shit out of most every person who earns a living sharing creative “information” in any form, because it essentially means that your audience could be so weighed down with data, that they have considerably less room on their “hard drives” to fully digest and experience what you do. Seriously.
I remember seeing a news item a couple months back where researchers were suggesting that folks nowadays are not “properly processing” tragedy, because the modern information age blasts us with so much of it, so often, we don’t have time to fully assimilate one given event before the next one hits our consciousness.
And isn’t this true of so much of what we see these days online, artistically? There really is some remarkable art, writing and music out there, immediately accessible to all, and modern technology – spurred on by the viral aspects of social media – offers an efficient delivery system for it. But, are we giving ourselves a chance to fully digest and experience it? Or, do we quickly gulp it down, tweet the link, then forget about it five minutes later when the next cool thing hits our inboxes?
Anyway, I feel like this whole rant has been somewhat rhetorical. I have no concrete answers, ideas or suggestions about any of it. But once again – let me emphasize – none of this is meant to be an across-the-board criticism about social media, and it’s hopefully not simply more data for you to consume. It’s just a little food for thought that we can all take into those precious five or ten minutes of Grand Nothingness… once we’ve checked all of our accounts!
Thanks for listening –