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.)