Likes, retweets, and comments can be as much of a drawback as they can be a benefit.
As we get closer to a world that, only a decade or so ago, was a dream of science fiction, it seems like people are more adept at living in the phantom lands of infinite cyberspace than in the (admittedly horrifying) real world. So, it comes as no surprise that the digital realm we love and cherish has become ground-zero for creators across the globe. Much to the delight of emerging artists, in a practically cost-free environment, they have access to an unimaginably large audience. Within a few clicks, we have a showcase of talent in our hands. But having an online presence goes hand in hand with open access to self-doubt, hate, and negativity. And thus, comes the million-dollar question – is this truly a costless endeavour?
We love a pretty piece of art to admire, a soulful cover to vibe with, and profound poems to read. We like, share, subscribe, retweet, and comment, asking for more and more; but how does this interaction affect creators? Do the internet’s many pros beat its cons?
Jenna Fraser (@jfrayzor), a painter from Glasgow School of Art who uses Instagram to share “almost funny work as a way of dealing with allergic reactions” says: “[having a digital presence] meant that I have found lots of other art accounts and inspiration through Instagram and helped me find contacts for when curating exhibitions in the future”.
Her sentiment is shared by all of those I spoke to. Because of social media, artists from around the world have unique opportunities to network and collaborate, creating a sense of global community which otherwise would’ve been impossible. Social media has changed the game for the arts. What was previously a nepotistic field that only the well-off could enter has turned into a diverse résumé-pool from which talent-scouts can pick the crème de la crème, paving the way for a diverse industry. As consumers of art, we have the opportunity to go as far and wide as the internet will allow us to find what makes us happy. Which, of course, is the aim of all art and their creators: to inspire emotions, evoke memories, and help you experience new environments.
For the most part, the online world is a joyful, friendly, and supportive environment for creative work. This is according to Aanvik Singh (aanike.com), a graphic designer/podcaster who uses these platforms to be heard and connected through narratives and stories. That being said, he doesn’t deny the existence of online hate - with which it is easy to lose perspective. He says: “You may have hundreds of people who support and love your work but then you may ignore them to focus on just the hate you receive.” All it takes is one or two cutting comments, and the heart breaks, as the creative mind descends into a spiral of doubts and insecurities about the work produced.
In addition to that, Charlyn O’Mari Prince (@marsprynce), a poet/musician, says that seemingly small things like having a post not do as well as others or finding someone else getting more likes for the same concept affects self-esteem and creative content. This is a problem faced not only by creative content providers but also every single person on social media. The infamous “like culture” exists as the villain in our origin stories with our self-esteem being the kicked down protagonist. For artists the fight is hard for it is a fight to still do what they love, the way they love it, and continue loving it – it’s a fight for their passion and their living.
So how do they do it - let the internet’s pros beat its cons? Get out of bed every day to gift us their talent? Going off the grid and taking some well-deserved self-care time could go a long way to making yourself feel better. That’s something that all the artists I talked to all live by – it is impossible to please everyone, so just do what makes you happy and do it to the best of your abilities!