I’ve been swamped with work lately and am just barely starting to feel like my head is above water. Having too much work isn’t something a freelancer should ever complain about, but there was some sort of weird confluence of pretty much every client needing something time-consuming done urgently, and a project for a new client which wasn’t particularly difficult but which needed extra attention as it is new and I wanted to make sure to do a very good job with it.
So, my social media retreat has been a blessing for the past week or so, because I really don’t have time to waste on it. There is something illusory about the idea of checking in on social media as a break from work, but it’s not a very good break. Better to step away from the computer entirely.
I did have a brief period on Saturday where I broke my social media retreat and went on Facebook. I traveled to New York via train to go to a 100-day party for a friend’s baby daughter and to see the Postcards from the Edge benefit exhibit for Visual AIDS that I submitted a postcard to. My sister texted me to ask if I would go to the Women’s March on Philadelphia with her. She sent a Facebook link, which I could see without logging in, plus there was a link on the Facebook page to another website with information. So really there was no need for me to actually log in to Facebook, but I did, because I was thinking “this is a really important event! I have to share this and let people know about it!” But then I thought better of it, and realized that anyone I know who would be interested in such an event will find out about it from some other means than me posting about it. (I think it’s part of the addictive nature of social media to make you think that whatever you are posting is somehow OMG IMPORTANT!!!).
So I logged off, but not before I saw that there were 65 notifications and 3 messages. I’m the sort of person who can’t stand seeing notifications for unread emails or texts, so it bothered me knowing there were 65 notifications and 3 messages. What if there was something important? So I logged back on and scrolled through the notifications. Nothing really important, except a notification saying a client had commented on my art page that she had sent me a message. Which I couldn’t see because I don’t have Messenger on my phone and Facebook is evil and won’t let you see messages except via Messenger. You can see them on a desktop, but not on a mobile device.
And then before I knew it, I was scrolling through the feed of everyone’s posts…I know lots of interesting people who post interesting things, so it’s really easy to get sucked in. Especially on a long train ride. Fortunately I came to my senses pretty quickly and logged off and went back to the book I was reading (1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, which is long but a really good wonderful and weird love story). It was kind of appalling how quickly I got sucked into a mindless scroll scroll scroll scroll…
And then I had to log into Facebook on my desktop when I got home to find out what the mystery client message was. I think the fact that this person didn’t just email me (the only way we have communicated before now) shows how much Facebook is succeeding in being THE PLACE where people do all their internet things. I don’t at all fault anyone for thinking that’s the best way to get in touch with me, but it’s pretty annoying. It’s partly my fault because I forgot to post something on my art page saying I was taking a break from Facebook.
I think it’s pretty clear that from a business perspective it doesn’t make sense to avoid social media entirely. The problem is how to get the benefits without the drawbacks.
Benefits: Easy to share projects, info about shows, etc.
Drawbacks: Timesuck/information overload; Too concerned with getting feedback for what I posted.
I think the thing to do is to only use Facebook on my desktop computer, where I have installed a Chrome extension that blocks the feed. It’s just too easy to get sucked into mindless scrolling on the phone. And the other thing to do is to mostly focus on my art page vs my personal page. I still haven’t decided about Instagram and if I’m going to return to posting my art journal pages every day.