I begin this with a caveat; I've been thinking about this a lot recently because I have been excluded from Facebook for what appears to be forevermore...
The strange thing I noticed was somewhat disturbing...
Now, I am a smoker but one that is conscious that he is addicted to a substance that is not necessary for - is actually detrimental to - his continued existence. I know what addiction pangs feel like when one's poison is even temporarily denied.
I was feeling this same anxiety and what I call 'the twitches' when denied access to Facebook. I felt that something was missing and was quite keen to get back to that shared social space. I was even somewhat apathetic towards alternative media sources and also despondent in its absence.
I actually found that I no longer knew what to do with my free time...
A Surprising Truth
To date, 3.5 Billion people, or 45% of the world's population use some for of Social Media daily. Of that number a massive 68% use Facebook daily, spending an average of three hours a day (that they admit to) on that or other social media sources.
That is quite significant and, owing to ease of access through mobile devices, we would guess that the figure is a little higher when it comes to time spent.
Add to that figure that 54% of people use social media to research products and services they consider using and 49% of consumers rely on or make use of Social Media Influencer opinion and recommendations and we see that it outranks all other sources of interest and opinion.
People, it would appear, live their lives in that virtual space.
Don't get me started on Influencers either, it's a funny way to get famous isn't it? Let's leave it there.
"Ok, Boomer" the chorus of inaccurate ironic apathy resounds.
A Necessary Evil
We, as artists aspiring to fame and recognition must have a social media presence, there is no escaping it. We need to;
Engage regularly with a possible audience.
Regularly advertise and expose our work.
Network with other artists in our field, learn the industry and the market.
We need to create and maintain a website.
Run a blog with regular posts (ideally daily)
Participate in on-line social events to gain recognition; contests, competitions, etc.
Create and maintain a professional persona.
Among other things. The thing is that we are new to this, all of us, we mostly make it up as we're going along. We do that or follow the advice of people who claim to be experts, maybe some of them are.
You see, one terrible side-effect of our reliance upon Social Media for everything is that we tend to use it as our first and only source of information. It is so easy, with Social Media, to come into contact with inaccurate information and opinion-dressed-as-knowledge and we are, it would appear, inclined to believe it relying on the age-old adage of
"well it wasn't true they wouldn't let them print/upload/publish it would they?"
No-one ever seems to explain who They are and what authority they have over the accuracy of information; we simply entrust them with this great responsibility willy-nilly. If you were to ask me, I might call that a shade irresponsible...
Social Responsibility on Social Media
Now, let's be honest, social media is not a nice place. We know well the 'keyboard warrior' and troll phenomena which have gained traction over the years. A lot of people dedicate a lot of time to, it would appear, seeking out people who disagree with their opinions so that they can insult those people and anyone else. It is thought OK to verbally attack anyone you don't agree with or like the look of, use the open to all soapbox to cry out your opinions no matter who they might offend (especially if your opinion is that those people have no right to be offended). It is a place to start rumours, spread inaccurate stories about your hated-persons/group-of choice.
At times, that does seem like that is all it is.
The corporations that run it are not free from controversy either.
In all honesty, none of these companies feel any need to actually do anything about any of that because they are safe and certain in the knowledge that we need them now, we cannot go on without them because they amalgamated and crushed all competitors.
They are half right though, we need them...
Of course, there will be another article on social media and its denizens another time because it warrants a while article of its own, so we will not explore both sides of the ecology of social media here., we'll come back to that tomorrow perhaps.
The purpose of this article was to open a few eyes to the fact that we are quite addicted. In spite of all the negative things we know about our poison, we still support and make excuses for it; as if it were a relative who is either violent or an embarrassment in public. You try to smooth off the rough edges that you know, deep down, are there. You hide the black eyes and bruises, you tolerate the social exile.
You know it only ever thinks about itself and what it wants no matter how sweetly it tries to tell you otherwise when it's in one of its good moods...
Its built to suck you in and keep you there because there's a lot of money to make in them there isles and that is part of the reason we are sailing them...