The trouble with social mediaOct 05, 2021
“Do stuff. be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It's all about paying attention. attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. stay eager.”
~ Susan Sontag
Hello Dear Friends,
Like millions of other people, I found myself turning my phone off and restarting it, checking my wifi connection, and voicing concerns that something was wrong with my device yesterday. My email seemed to be working fine, but I couldn't get my feeds to refresh on my social media apps. I was away from home, so it wasn't until the rest of the group reported the same issues, that it occurred to me that it might be the apps and not my phone.
You likely know the rest of the story, it was not a good day for Facebook and Instagram. First making major headlines for the dirty practices revealed by a whistleblower and then, not so coincidentally, suddenly being offline for half the day.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a few moments of panic. Both Facebook and Instagram have been, after all, key components to my own ability to stay connected to members of my group Canary Rising. If not for Facebook, I wouldn't have been able to pivot so quickly into teaching online when the pandemic hit last year.
But sitting in the airport waiting for my flight home, an interesting thing happened. I found myself hoping that whatever trouble had befallen the social media giant would take at least a few days to sort out. I fantasized about the forced disconnect and the time it would allow me to return to the task list unhindered by distraction.
Telling, don't you think?
You know what else is telling? This picture I snapped of of my luggage as I was packing for my flight home. One half contained my clothes, toiletries, meds, and weekend essentials, and the other? Well that is my pillow, cushy daybed mat, journal, and enough books to keep me reading for at least a few months. My plan was to forgo the workshop I had signed up for and spend the time nestled into bed at the Airbnb resting and looking for clarity.
Of course that did not happen the way I planned, turns out, what I really needed the most, was to be in the company of friends. Clarity looked like laughter, and art, and relaxing on a rooftop, or around a barrel fire at the end of the day. Rest looked like allowing myself to let go of any expectations to make a show worthy work of art or take a million pictures of my trip that wouldn't reflect the full truth of my current life.
The trouble with social media is not that we are all somehow more connected to a community of like minded makers. or friends. If not for these platforms, I would not know most of the women I consider my dearest friends today. It has been an absolute lifeline to me and so many people who live alone during the time of social distancing and stay at home mandates. For those who have mobility issues, or those in the neurodivergent community, being online allows the connectedness that make a more satisfying life, without the overwhelm or the logistics of managing in person gatherings.
But finding out the algorithms were deliberately designed to fill our feeds with things that will make us the angriest, in order to keep us more engaged, affirms my decision to stop relying solely on these platforms to teach my classes.
This week, I will be fairly inactive on facebook, as I tend to matters at home, and begin to develop a plan for the next season of classes. I'll also be playing around with the Zoom app to be sure the upcoming Portfolios class goes smoothly. I am very much looking forward to this new to me way of gathering with the participants, seeing faces as I teach and not just names on my screen. And the beauty of it is, even if Facebook goes dark again, the class will not be impacted.
Though I do appreciate the groups we can hang out in together on FB, and I do plan to keep utilizing them for the foreseeable future, the new website removes the dependence on it for hosting class content and allows members to avoid it altogether if they so choose.
Here on the website, participants create their own login and password, and class content is available 24/7 directly, without having to login to facebook first.
The best of both worlds, autonomy to determine your own pace for learning and connection whenever you choose.
We are just one week away from the live ZOOM lesson for the Portfolios class. Follow this link for details and registration.
With so much love and gratitude,