I’ve noticed over the last few years that I have been more and more prone to use posts on social media as a jumping off platform for Transcendence Diaries entries. As I was typing the above I remembered that long before the advent of Facebook Tumblr and Twitter, I was already using these Diaries as a means to communicate regularly with people — though it started out as a social experiment in the very beginning, it very soon became a place to vent, keep track of thoughts feelings and ideas, or just keep friends and fans informed of the latest. Very similar to what we use social media for now.
Remember that it wasn’t too long ago that I posted an entry warning people not to lose track of themselves and their potential great works of art or brilliance in social media — that for all its benefits, social media could very well zap your greatest works by sucking them into the limited confines of a newsfeed that quickly disappears forever; for not only does the newsfeed itself disappear quickly — and therefore your potential audience, but people’s attention is also greatly limited when on social media. Notice how difficult it is to elicit a response from others when posting something sincerely important, let alone just interesting; in other words, wanna tell the world what you had for dinner? Fine, do it on Facebook. But if you’re really attempting to say something, best save it for your next book or at least a blog.
That was a few years ago, and for me that was a big wake up call. Noticing that the decreasing quantity of entries here was almost commensurate with the increasing quantity of posts made to social media. It’s an easy trap to get into, with the lure of all that instant gratification one imagines they may receive from all the potential attention they might get out of hanging out and being seen or saying something noteworthy publicly. But it’s a trap, a lifesuck to be sure. I wouldn’t waste a brain cell on it. And yet we do have a genuine desire to connect with both friends and our audience, to not be a total hermit. (And while we’re on it, there’s nothing worse than someone who outsources their social media excursions to some third party hack or organization that promises they’ll “continuously engage with your fans in a meaningful way so that you can keep doing what you do best”. Yeah, we tried it. It doesn’t work. Your fans don’t want to read randomly generated crap from a 22 year old grad student who believes she’s a “new media” mogul nor from an automated meme generator. They want to connect with YOU. And they can tell when it is you and when it isn’t.
For me the solution came slowly but organically and that’s what made it work out so well and taste so good. I noticed that the immediacy of instantly expressing one’s self via Facebook or Quora or Twitter had it’s advantages in terms of the creative spark it elicits in us; there’s a certain excitement in the wow of being able to personally express ourselves so readily and publicly that we really don’t get from anything else in our day to day lives — it does something to our creative juices, inspires us in a way, that we don’t necessarily feel from any other form of personal expression. Not even blog posts. And certainly not working on a book or a screenplay where it may be months or years before what you’re working on sees the light of day let alone someone else’s eyes.
(As hard as this might be for some to believe — due to this recent wave of anti-smart-phone obsession that’s hit the fringes lately, proclaiming that people are spending too much time inside their phones as opposed to being present in the here-now of what’s happening all around them in the real world — some people don’t realize that other people just don’t have a lot going on outside of their smart phones (as sad as that might seem to some… it’s not really sad; it just is…) so being inside their phones is actually more social, more exciting and more satisfying than putting it down or attempting to take one of those new age “technology breaks” that have become all the rage with the Oprah/yoga/vegan/raw foods crowd. They fail to realize that even personal one on one interactions with many or most people in our lives still may not be as exhilarating as interacting with the people we connect with regularly using social media — at least for SOME people. Frankly I don’t as of yet at least see anything wrong with this fact. Sure it’s weird. But so was the car compared to the horse and buggy and so too were talking pictures compared to the silent ones. The point is that social media posting sparks us in a way that almost nothing else does. And that power can be harnessed. Just don’t waste it all there.)
When I feel inspired to post something or comment on something, i do it. I let it rip. No matter what it’s about and even if it soon turns into a five page rambling essay much too long for a social media post. If at the end of it I feel that it’s still relevant or worthy I hit Enter. Why not? It’s better than more pictures of cats and babies. Most of the time it’s fine. Occasionally it’s length or quirkiness (people aren’t used to intelligent social media posts; they’re considered quirky at best, annoying by most) clogs the airwaves and creates controversy and pandemonium. But that’s rare. Usually it just is. As any other post or comment is.
But it doesn’t end there. 99% of the time that post or comment isn’t too far away from what I’d post to the Transcendence Diaries under normal circumstances; or if social media didn’t exist at all. So I simply copy it over. Usually it’s brief, punctuated by hard stops, road blocks and detours that wouldn’t normally exist in a Diaries entry, so I’ll take the time to elaborate on certain points or amend aspects of it to add fluidity, work it a bit until I feel that it’s complete, worthy of being a Transcendence Diaries entry. Usually there isn’t much left to do with it though, other than edit and clean it up grammatically for essay form — and yet BAM there it is, a something where there might have been nothing.
This post in fact was a reflection on marriage. It started off as that at least. But then it occurred to me how often lately I’ve been using social media posts as a launching pad for Diaries entries. Thought I’d mention it. Remind myself and others how important it is to remember not to waste too much out there in the world of social media. Remember that as creators our job is to create. To complete a “something”. A something that can be saved for posterity, saved to enjoy later, saved to review and revisit, saved to inspire or provoke. Think song, album, sculpture, painting. Don’t mistake interacting on social media as creating something. Hell, don’t even mistake it for “doing” something. Unless it’s going to directly lead to something else. That’s the rule.
Social media is the exact opposite of the above named “somethings”. It’s for that photo of you and the crew enjoying lunch or a video of that kid down the block who can sing like Robert Plant, or a quick hello to friends and family when you’ve been too busy to pick up the phone, or an inspiring quote, or to remind people about your latest work of art, or a goofy meme about the Kardashians. It can also be a truly fulfilling means to connect with others in a meaningful way. Remember, people don’t go to social media to read or think or feel. They may WANT to read what you’ve posted (whether it’s your’s or something you’ve found interesting of someone else’s), and they may believe they want to think and feel; but the structure of social media takes over their mentality and squeezes those desires right out of them before they’re even aware of it. There’s just too much vying for their attention particles to warrant them stopping long enough to take IT in. YOU on the other hand have so much more to offer than the ten seconds that most people are willing to relegate to what you’re offering. So don’t waste it there on Facebook or Twitter. Start a blog. Write a book. Record an album. Make a movie. Who knows… You may just change the world.