I think we are all intricately connected in this pandemic. Connected in thought, feeling and emotion. Everything I go through; the thought I have or a feeling that overcomes me, I find out with a quick scroll on my phone, many of you do, too. It puzzles me sometimes how in sync we all are, without spending time together, and usually not even knowing each other.

Last few months I’ve been analyzing social media and my role in it. I’ve felt overwhelmed with how much time I spend on it, and why and how I use it. It’s been a hard year and a half and I want every second of my time spent on the phone to account for something. To be worth something. To bring value to someone. Or to make a living from it.

I started this year with not posting anything on my grid for one whole month, something I have never done before. I’m a creative person, visuals are my job, instagram was always fun escapism for me. Another way to exercise my editorial skills. I could put together the meanest designed grid, and I enjoyed the play with images, more that having a thought to accompany it. Most of the time, captions bore me. Then come January 2021, I did not even have the energy for images and pretty pictures. What was the point? Why do I have to wake up every morning and spend hours contemplating what images to post? It felt like a chore, it felt like a job no one’s paying me for.

I got out of my funk in February, got back the creative spark for the imagery, but more and more I grew tired of saying stuff. The virus, the pandemic, the lockdown, the social issues, the inequality, so much injustice and so much noise just made me strangely not want to say anything. Not want to write anything. I was so overwhelmed with the world, I needed to just reverse the noise.

Around March, I got better with that too, slowly, and found my voice back. I feel, if you’re on the right (human) side of social issues, your voice should be heard, if nothing else but to suffocate the voices of privilege, patriarchy and sexism.

Come April, I started to be overwhelmed. With everything I wanted to do, and say and create and showcase and support and share. I would spend half a day choosing images (onto that grid design importance again!) for my activist profile, write the caption, edit the caption, research the info, double check the info, credit everyone; I would spend hours contemplating images for my personal profile and having headaches with dragging something to say out of me, I would feel pressure to post something on my brand profile while waiting for this perpetuate pandemic to finally be over so we can physically visit the factory and make more stuff. Every day I’d feel like i’m on the hamster wheel, trying to be everywhere, trying to update everything, share everything; feeling like the obligation of a job, but not getting payed for it. I had no time or energy left to write an article for my site, I had no energy or mental power to write my monthly column – which are two things I actually do get payed for.

And I started to think what an insane concept this is. We FEEL like social media is our job, we feel the obligation of it, without even realizing what we’re actually doing. It’s not a preconceived notion, it’s done by inertia: we wake up we take the phone in our hand, we think about what we NEED to post, except we don’t need to do anything.

I found the greatest thread by @janaillustration on Instagram few days ago (hence the beginning of this post – we all kinda feel the same motions in the same circles and we all question similar things at the same time), that said:

“I can’t force creativity for content.”

“I will not post on a schedule.”

“I will no longer apologize for time off.”

“My reach, likes, and follows do not define my work.”

“I will create and share on my own terms.”

And also:

“Art being called content and artists being called content creators has to be one of the worst things to happen in the art space in years.”

And:

“You can feel the exhaustion and tiredness and boredom on IG. The push to always be making “content” has folks on never-ending spiral and it’s felt. The forced videos, the “think pieces”, the drive to increase and stay “relevant”. It all feels fake and sad and weird. Rest.”

And:

“Artists trying to be their own curator, press and marketing team, administrator, technician, studio manager, art handler, social media manager, web designer, application writer, archivist and photographer who documents the work all at once.”

And:

“Stop apologizing for not posting, for taking breaks, for being slow, for drawing the same character, for posting only sketches, for gushing over OC’s, for being a beginner, for raising your prices, for trying a new medium – start doing whatever you heckin’ want.”

Forced content. It’s unbearable to me. I’ve been stunned for a while now with the person I know and thought she’s a smart girl, but recently the “content” she’s been throwing out – “how to wash your make-up brushes: first, start the water…”, or “let me give you a lifestyle hack, how to use fabric softener when it’s thick, add water…“ – and the sadness of her feed and the desperation for clicks and follows like that’s going to ultimately amount to something if you don’t have an actual quality material to share or are raising an informed voice about societal issues, or selling a product, I’m struggling to understand. Hey I get it, you think all that nonsense raises your profile; higher the profile, more chance of landing a husband, husband means someone else paying for the apartment and the bills while you can continue “creating content”, pretend you have a job and a nice, expensive background for your images, but guess what? Potential husbands know this too.

I’m looking at the Generation Z, through my 14 year old nephew and come to realizing how much smarter they are, then all of the three generations prior to theirs – combined. They use social media not to showcase themselves, not to collect likes, they could not care less for likes, they all have about 10 pics posted. They just have it so they can scroll and stay informed, learn stuff; they have so much knowledge about everyone and everything while not spending time AT ALL creating a content to post. They are connected, informed, but not wasting time. Instead, they are already thinking about businesses to launch, new skill to learn in real time, they are aware of social issues and are starting numerous charitable actions on their own. And they have no need to share them.

And lastly, I read the most interesting caption on a post yesterday that feeds right into my subject (same thoughts, feelings, same cycles):

@pamelaperkic:

“I have realized that I am discriminating my own body. But not in a way that you would think. I realized that I always expect “extra” from myself. For example, it is ok for others to post just a pic with no caption but for myself, I always felt I had to give something else along with my photo. It is ok for others just to show up, but I always had to entertain as well. Maybe if I am happy all the time they will not notice my stomach/double chin whatever. Others can promote stuff in the simplest ways, but people will unfollow me if I do that so I have to give my everything. Like just being me is not enough.

I do not want to do that to myself no more. It is fucking exhausting and I should not be spending & treating myself in that way. This caption might be confusing to you, but after writing a few essay captions to my notes and contemplating so much I realized I AM doing this to myself. I invite you to think in what ways you discriminate yourself.

This pic is not edited.”

It hit me. “Like being me is not enough”. Why do we do that to ourselves? “My body is different so I feel the need to give something else alongside this photo, while others can just show up, post nothing, promote stuff, without much effort”. WOW. So poignant.

We all do it. What is your self-abuse du jour?

I know my audience well:

1. Guys who like when I post half naked beach-y photos of myself, without much talk. In fact, less talk or caption, the better. But they do like to find hidden meanings in case I do write something like, for example when I caption the beach photo or just my face until the shoulders on the beach with the caption: “For good measure”, comments that follow are always in the ballpark of – “Measure, hmmm haha, like what are we measuring here, hihi?” And I’m not talking just loser men I don’t know, I’m talking men I know, male friends, male friends with wives and kids who think this particular picture and message is for them.

2. Women that follow me for my deep thoughts and like and only comment when I write about some subject or issue or anything personal.

3. Women who comment little fires on my pretty pics and say how beautiful I am every single time.

4. Women who have the same social, environmental and political views like me and like when I write about either one in my stories. Like comrades comparing notes.

5. Men who tell me to talk less because no one likes women who talk about social issues that much “and when you do that you appear like someone that would give trouble to men and no men like that”. Well. Consider me alarmed.

6. And my favorite bunch: Women and men I know a little bit, call them acquaintances, who always, literally always tell me to calm down when I get involved in s subject of a social importance that I feel I want to say or share something about. They feel they have a good measure or what I should be and how I should conduct myself and how to use social media, and are also an authority of what a person other than themselves should be, think or feel.

Why are we allowing this? Why are we participating in this abuse of expectation? In conclusion: I’m tired. Not tired of this, I love to write, writing is my lifeline and my therapy. And exactly something I have no energy, time or mental bandwidth for, after dealing with social media on three profiles all day. If something that you love to do, or your actual job, or your mental health, or just your piece of mind – suffers because you spend all day creating content you don’t get payed for, is it time to rethink how we use social media? Because it looks to me it’s using us, not other way around. 

_______

Illustration by Anna Isabella Schmidt


Miranda Vidak
Miranda Vidak

Founder & Designer of Moodytwin Inc. Disrupting the conversation about culture, identity, relationships & social issues.

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