Lately I’ve noticed myself falling back into the same rut that goes a little like this:
Make something > post to various channels > obsessively monitor likes/shares/retweets/etc…
But you know what? Fuck that. I’m over seeking validation through social media. Which got me thinking… why do I make? It’s a good question that I don’t really have an answer for. On some basic level, it’s in my nature and lineage. My father is a builder. His father is a builder, my other grandfather a farmer and my great-grandfather a mechanic. It’s in my midwest blood.
Creating, whether it’s sketching, drawing, writing, photography, or design provides an outlet. However, with the advent of social media, it seems like we subject our works to undue standards and criticism. We use likes and shares as a measure of success and even let it influence what we create, “Will this get x-many likes?” – and if not, we don’t make it. Like I said, fuck that.
While social is a great tool for distribution and connection, it’s terrible for creativity. Instead of making for ourselves, we now have a world-wide audience at our fingertips that we’re constantly trying to please. It’s design by committee to the max, and even worse, it provides infinite opportunities to measure ourselves and work against our peers. And nothing good ever comes from measuring yourself against others. We all do it on some level, but seriously, it’s the worst.
Here’s what I’m proposing; before making, ask yourself ‘If no one ever saw this, would I still make it?’ I know as creative-types (cringe) we crave validation which often comes when people use or find inspiration in our work, however, I’m confident that if we’re truly making for ourselves and not for the internet, this will become organic over time.
Also, quit checking social notifications. You’re not missing out on anything, I promise.
Further Reading: Jeff Tweedy on Doing What You Love