Saturday, February 1, 2014

Simplifying my online existence

I have been thinking a lot lately about how my online existence affects my life. I love blogging, I love social media, but I feel like it's also been eating away too much of my time and also just taking too much energy that I could spend in better ways.



I'm no different from most of you I guess. We all love to look at blogs, we all love to gawk at other people's gorgeous work and most of us like to put ourselves out there with our own work and blogs to share what's going on in our artsy lives. And sometimes we even feel we have to promote what we do a little. Because, let's face it, we all like positive feedback (or just useful feedback) even if we don't make a living with our art.

I'm a part of several yahoo groups, have my pictures on Flickr (two accounts!), pin stuff on Pinterest, post to Instagram, am active on Facebook and a part of a couple of Facebook groups and also a member of a couple of Ning sites. Whenever I post on my blog I feel I have to make sure I post those pictures on Flickr too, let my Facebook pals know about it and sometimes I even put a link on a yahoo group or other site for reference (I don't do this with every post, but I do do it).



Over the past five years my rather modest online existence has kind of escalated into something bigger and bigger because I just keep joining in on new things. The only thing I've managed to stay away from so far is Twitter, not because I don't like it, but because I'm afraid I will like it too much and it will just ad another thing to my stack of online sites to keep up with.

Slowly but steadily I am becoming one of those people who checks her phone too often to see if somebody commented or 'liked' something. I also feel guilty when I don't keep up with my groups or my favorite bloggers (and I've been severely lacking lately). As much as I like being in the blogosphere and all the other spheres connected to it, it is starting to be more of a drain on me than a pleasure. And that's what I've been thinking about.



Why do I feel the need to keep up with so many things? Part of it is of course that I'm interested in what all of you are doing. I love looking at your work, I love being inspired by ideas, I love the wealth the internet brings us from all over the world. I've made connections through this medium that would not even have been possible a few decades ago. But there's another part too, a part I'm not so proud of. It's the look-at-me-and-like-me-part. That part where I need  validation for what I do and make or maybe even just for my basic existence. Who doesn't like to get compliments, positive feedback, likes on Facebook, funny comments, etc? In this rather solitary life that I live and love on some days it can be the only feedback I get. And I have the same need to be liked as everybody else.

So part of my online existence is to let people know about me and my blog and it works too, but I have to wonder what this really brings me (besides validation I mean). When I started this blog I had four or five followers and now I have a little over 260. I know there's others out there who follow me through the mail and yet others who only follow me through Facebook. I love all of you, but my daily life is actually pretty much the same as it was almost four years ago when I started my blog. By that I mean that the amount of followers I have is a good motivation to keep going, but it hasn't really affected my life. So why do I give so much energy to things like statistics and likes and all? Isn't that all ego?



Please don't misunderstand me. The whole blogging experience has seriously enriched my life and so has the fact that I have followers at all with whom I can connect and exchange things. But do I really need more? Will for instance 500 followers make me happier? I doubt it. The same goes for the visiting statistics. Does it really matter if I have a 100 page views a day or a 1000? And if it doesn't, why do I have a pageview counter on my sidebar?

Actually...I no longer have a pageview counter on my sidebar. I just deleted it. And that's what this post is really about. About simplifying my online existence. I really need to strip down to the basics that enrich my life and let go of the things that are mostly draining my energy. What these things are is different for all of us, but for me it means letting go of everything except this blog and Facebook. Facebook is my connection with the world, especially since I live in a remote place, and this blog is my means of creative expression online. Isn't that all I really need? Do I really need twenty different ways to connect with the world? Isn't one or two enough? And won't the quality of these one or two enhance if I don't put any energy in the other eighteen?



So starting today I will drop my Ning sites, my Instagram, my Yahoo groups, my Flickr and my Pinterest. Not because I don't like any of them or the people I meet there, but because the energy they cost takes to much of my peace of mind. Either I'm too busy keeping up with them or I feel too guilty for not keeping up with them. I will of course keep blogging and I will keep Facebooking and remain a member of a few Facebook Groups, because it's the most practical way for me to interact with likeminded people and yes I do need to post about my blog every now and then, haha.

For those of you who I know through any of the media I am dropping, thank you so much for our times together. Most of you are on Facebook too, so I don't feel too guilty about dropping these things, but I do want you to know that I joined all these groups and sites out of genuine interest. I just now have to drop them to stay sane and focused. Social media should enhance my life, not be a burden to it.



For the same reason I may cut down on my blog reading and try not to feel so guilty about it and instead focus on my own blog more and what I want to share. You may have noticed I have started blogging from my phone so I can post more directly from everyday life from time to time instead of plan out my posts more extensively. I don't think this blog will change much, but my attitude towards it might, so you may not notice anything different. I'm hoping though, it will be more direct with more snippets from daily life. All art and photography related though, don't worry. I have no intention to turn this into a blog where I tell you what I had for dinner last night (soup, it was delicious!).

I think I need to remind myself that I don't blog to get a massive amount of readers, but to give a bit of an everyday perspective on an artsy practice that is not focused on making money or keeping a business, but for the sheer joy of it. And most of all to remind myself of the good things in my life.

Hoping you all understand where I am coming from I look forward to keep meeting you here on this blog and on Facebook. And of course I wish all of you a really wonderful and artsy weekend!


(PS All images in this post are from art journals from 2007/2008. That is BB - Before Blog.)

50 comments:

  1. While I will absolutely miss your presence in our Blissfully Art Journaling group, I totally understand, Caatje. You need to feel free to do what feels right for you, and it makes a lot of sense. Enjoy your new freedom - I'm sure you will fill that space with lots of creative endeavors!

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    1. Thank you so much Teri, I will miss this group too. You are such a sweet bunch of ladies! Will keep checking your blog and facebook though!

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  2. Good for you! It all gets to be a bit much and takes away time from doing the things you really love. On a selfish note, I'm glad that you are keeping your blog!

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    1. Thank you! For now I don't think I could live without my blog. Well, I could of course, but I don't want to. ;-)

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  3. Caatje, I really understand. I have cut down a lot too but find myself commenting on Facebook half the day with the Artist's Journal Workshop group alone! I am inspired by so much of what I see but it really eats into what I should be doing and avoid doing because I am on Facebook so much. I never joined pinterest and instagram or twitter simply because I knew I couldn't keep up. I seldom go to Flickr anymore either. A few blogs and Facebook are more than enough. We all need the pat on the back but its more than that. When we spend a lot of time alone we need the companionship of the words flying back and forth and also the inspiration we get from the pictures we see. So paring down is a good thing while keeping some of what you need going. Hope you thrive more this way! I've got your blog coming by email so I don't miss a post even if sometimes I get blogged down and don't comment.

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    1. I think the 'problem' for me is that all those things I kept up with really are fun, but I have to wonder what they bring me. I mean how much art of other people do I need to see before I realise it's taking away from my time of making some? And drooling over other people's studio's is lovely, but I already have a marvelous studio. And so on and so on...;-)

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  4. You are doing the right thing. I deleted Facebook a few years ago, even tho I only looked at it a couple of times a month even then. The internet is wonderful, but it can be a huge waste of time, too. And I am so very, very, very sick of all the advertisements every where I look. I barely look at the TV for the same reason. I think there are quite a lot of people starting to abandon TV. Just keep on with this blog as long as you can. You really are an inspiration to many of us.

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    1. I stopped watching television last June. It was a bit of an adjustment, but I'm not sorry. I do still love watching dvd's and sometimes things through the internet, because I love movies and certain documentaries. But indeed, all those commercials are really annoying and I'm glad I'm rid of them.

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  5. You are more than generous to share your thoughts and your art with me through this blog. I'm happy you're making a change to be less tied to what doesn't energize you in a positive way. It's an odd thing about the internet...it's not always what we're doing that isn't healthy, but rather how we attach ourselves to it.
    Take Care - :)

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    1. If only the internet was terribly boring. Then I could let go of it easily, but I really love all the things it has to offer. I just need to use it with a bit more moderation (and I'm not even one of those people who's online all the time, go figure).

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  6. I couldn't agree more! I love Pintrest, but I have never made a board, my friends ask why. I say because it would just absorb too much of my time. Facebook started doing that, and I had to make myself back out a lil. Now I hardly post anything myself. Just get on there a couple of times a month to keep up with family/friends/ events. No Instagram, no Twitter, no Flickr. I had about 20 blogs I followed religiously, and I've cut that down to ten. My goal is to start my own blog this year. I've ben thinking about it for maybe 8 months. The should I, shouldn't I, do I have enough time? Will people read it? Then I came to conclusion:Who cares! I really want to do it for myself, to express myself and get some of these thoughts out of my head. And of course share the stuff I make with whomever may come across it. Not everyone will like it. But I have to keep coming back to the first reason, it's for myself. By paring down all the other stuff, I think I can manage my own blog now. By the way, I absolutley love the last piece, Phoenix. It reminds me of a piece I see in my head, I just haven't produced it yet. Flames and rising out of them and such. So awesome!

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    1. Part of the reason I started a blog was simply to show myself what I make. This may sound silly, but I always had this feeling I was hardly making anything until I made it visible. That really helped. Of course it has evolved over the years and now the interaction is an important part too, sharing with others.
      As for Pinterest, I really just pinned and had a ton of followers, but hardly followed anybody myself. That's not what I used it for. But at some point it seemed just silly to collect all these pictures in one place and never do anything with them. Now if I want to keep an image I can just print it and paste it in a journal. That makes me more selective and the image more tangible.

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    2. Oh yes, good luck on your blog adventure!

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  7. WELl, that was a relief when I found that you are keeping this blog! this is the only place I know you, and I'd be so sad if it went away, not being a Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr or any of those other things. I have two blogs of my own, and I run another for our stitching embroidery guild, and that's plenty! So thank you for staying here, Caatje! I read several sites daily, but using less time as I go! I can quite see how you would want to pull back and do what your original intent was -- to make art undisturbed, to communicate now and then about it.

    And please continue to do outdoor photography, as well as show us your art!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Boud, I'm so glad you like it here. And of course I'll keep taking photographs, I never go anywhere without a camera.

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  8. Good for you! I always enjoyed your positive presence and comments in our online group, but for the reasons mentioned above, as well as long term illnesses of my parents etc., I remained a lurker. But now that I have more time, I was getting involved in several classes etc and found aspects of it are eating away my actually accomplishing the core of what I wanted to accomplish. I am not sorry for doing any of it because it gave me a chance to explore possibilities and refine my focus, but now, like you, it's time to pair down extraneous stuff to develop the good stuff in me instead of drifting along on everyone else's good stuff.I am so glad to wake up to your post this morning. You are moving on, just as I should be doing. Good for you!

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    1. Thank you! I will miss some of my online groups, but I hardly made the time anymore to contribute, and I still have two artsy groups on Facebook. That will have to be enough. Quality over quantity.

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  9. Awesome! Simple is better.....I am in the process of also scaling down my computer usage and time....it is very easy to let it take over life. It seems that what should be a minute on groups, youtube, or pintrest turns into hours before you know it. Blessings!

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    1. Ah yes, it's so easy to get swept away by it all. There's so much to see online you could spend days on end there and never get bored.

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  10. Thank you for this post. I have a blog that has been sitting still while I determine just what it is that I desire to use it for... what it is I want to say, how much of me do I desire to have there....My focus is about doing my work, my writing, my birding and my gardening....and I keep Facebook going because I have a family spread around the world and this is where they go for updates...I am challenged as to how I will handle that, perhaps send each family member a link to my blog and just use the blog. One close and very dear friend closed her Facebook account and has found her life expanding and unfolding in wonderful ways - she is painting now some wonderful work - there was not time for that when she was so connected to checking the internet. So, your words have been most deliciously beneficial to me today.
    ...thank you for sharing your process, your thoughts, your considerations. Your blog comes to me via e-mail as do several others. I can read them whenever I desire to sit at the computer on-line for a while. I limit that time now as a piece of my "unplugging". Going to see "friends", fellow artists, folks we have known for a very long time or not, at their blogs is a much more positive experience for me. Glad that I am able to still visit you on your blog.

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    1. Thank you KAM. I have been thinking a lot about my blog too and why I have it. I will probably write some more about it in a future post, but for me it's also a very selfish thing. By posting on my blog I get to look at my life as if I were outside it and appreciate it more. Photography helps me notice the beauty around me and writing helps me see my thoughts and feelings, but blogging kind of gives me a view of my creative life that keeps me motivated. Hope this makes sense.

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  11. Caatje - thank you so much for "thinking out loud" as you go through this process - I find it very helpful as I think about how I do and do not use my computer time myself. I enjoy getting your blog via email and being able to read your thoughts, see images of your photos and your journal pages and see what you are thinking about. It is very enriching. I also went through a phase of subscribing to lots of blogs, but eventually cut down on most as I figured out what suited me best. Wishing you days full of health & creating!

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    1. Thank you so much Judith, your support means a lot to me.

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  12. I hear what you are saying. Simplifying is good. There's too much out there competing for our attention! Most of it just feeds into the comparison trap.

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    1. I don't think I'm as much a victim of the comparison trap as of the 'oooh look at this and ooh look at that trap'. I'm just overwhelmed by all the gorgeous stuff and ideas out there and want to try everything. Unfortunately I'm just one person and if I keep looking at other people's gorgeous stuff my own stuff gets less attention. Besides I want what I made to come from ME, not from others.

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  13. Great time of year for thinking about what is really important and a good reminder for us all to think about why we do what we do. You are so articulate - thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. And so glad you are keeping on blogging :-)

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    1. Thank you Lynette, I think I will love my blog even more now.

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  14. I've been feeling similarly lately. It's become a bit of a popularity contest out there and I'd like to think I'm above that, but I'm not. I like people to complement me too. I think I'm actually going to switch to just flickr, so I don't have to explain myself all the time. I'm not much of a writer, though, so the writing on a blog takes up a lot of my energy. Good luck and keep at it! Thanks for being so open.

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    1. I'm a writer at heart, it comes easy to me, but there's plenty of blogs out there with hardly any writing and just wonderful imagery. Maybe that is your niche? And yes, there's a lot of ego involved for me too and a need for validation. I think this is human, but it shouldn't rule my decisions, haha.

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  15. Thank you for sharing how you feel. It is so refreshing and probably something that I should seriously think about. I need to reevaluate my online life, too. Thank you for getting the ball rolling!

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  16. I completely understand. I belong to too many groups, subscribe to too many blogs, etc. I am trying to thin my herd, but having less luck than I hoped.

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    1. It's not easy, especially because all these groups and blogs are just wonderful. It's hard to stick to just a few and let the rest go. Good luck to you Trece.

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  17. "Good for You" Caatje... je bent de enige niet met deze overwegingen (en beslissing)... er is volgens mij weer een 'terug naar bloggen en niet zoveel ernaast' beweging op gang aan het komen (Tammy 'Daisy Yellow' is ook met deze materie bezig, zie: http://daisyyellowart.com/vividlife/optional-words-comments.html ) en, voor mezelf sprekend, ik heb maar een paar online-'media's' die ik bijhoud en was/ben niet van plan die verder uit te breiden. Het kost inderdaad veel kostbare tijd en die besteed ik liever aan 'making art' of aan het bijwerken van mijn blog... mijn blog is toch altijd mijn 'thuis-basis' gebleven. Ik hoop dat jouw beslissing je ook meer tijd en rust brengt, je werk (jij!) is het waard!

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    1. Dank je wel Marit. Het is inderdaad een kwestie van prioriteiten. Dat is ook het lastige. Als al die blogs en sites nu gewoon niet zo leuk waren zou het stukken makkelijker zijn om ze te laten vallen. Er is teveel leuks op internet, dus moet ik maar gewoon kijken naar wat ik echt belangrijk vind. Voor mij zijn mijn blog en Facebook momenteel de kanalen waarmee ik het meest communiceer online en ik vind ze overzichtelijk genoeg om mee te werken. Dat moet het dan maar zijn. ;-) Dank voor de link.

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  18. After a year away from blogging etc for various reasons, I just reactivated my yahoo groups and this was the first post I read from EDM - I haven't followed your sites previously but I had to say how much this resonated with me. I am asking myself the very same questions as you've obviously been asking yourself and I've reached the same conclusions. Thanks for writing this, it came just at the right time for me.

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    1. Ha, now that's ironic. I think as with everything it's not so much about what is fun and beautiful and wonderful, because a lot of these sites and groups are just that. The point is though how much do you need and what does it take from your time and other activities. I just had to set my priorities straight.

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  19. Je hebt het mooi beschreven, dan voor het kijkje in je gedachten.
    Het sterkt me ook in mijn eigen idee, dat ik blog voor de lol en voor het vastleggen van de resultaten.
    En dat ik me niet moet laten stressen , omdat ik zo nodig weer eens iets moet posten ;-)

    Gelukkig blijf je bloggen en kan iknog steeds van je mooie ideeen genieten!
    Doe waar je gelukkig van wordt!
    En als ik ooit eens naar je eiland ga, dan zoek ik je op!

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    1. Eh... Die laatste zin was leuk bedoeld ;-) en ook als grapje (maar zonder smilie is dat wat lastig!) maar on ieder geval niet zo bedreigend als dat het er nu staat ;-)

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    2. Hihihi, ik moet zo lachen om die laatste toevoeging. Zo had ik het helemaal niet gelezen, maar nu zie ik het ook. Ik zou zeggen 'Kom maar op als je durft!' ;-)

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  20. Oh Caatje, you're going to feel wonderful, light, and free when you let go of some of these things.
    Whether it;s social media, or just stuff and clutter, we always feel such a sense of relief when we let go of them!
    How freeing will that be? Good for you. As for me, I am lucky if I post (now and then) on Facebook. Which I don't.
    So off we go, doing what pleases us and living the REAL life, as we see it.
    You go, Girlfriend!

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  21. Hi Caatje, I'm in The Studio Facebook group with you and this is my first time visiting your blog. I absolutely love this post. It's everything I've been feeling for several years now and it is so nice to see it written out so well here. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings and why you are simplifying your online life. I desperately need to do the same....I plan on reading this often to help me remember why I need to do the same and to inspire me <3

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    1. Hey Di, welcome to my blog! Hope you find a way to simplify your online existence a little too. Good luck!

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    2. Wow, do I ever understand this sentiment! It seems like, when I am blogging as much as I should be, and sharing in all the 'commenting' with all of my online friends....I suddenly stop doing the art itself. It's a vicious cycle! Stop posting; start doing lots of art. Start posting; stop doing art. It is why I refuse anymore to make resolutions to post so many times a month or week. I will post when I am ready to post! Good for you though, in making this decision. I wish you the best!

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