Being a human in the social media era is one wild ride. And I’d argue that being a human with social media who’s trying to pursue a career in the arts and entertainment industry is an even WILDER ride! The days of using our personal profiles as a place to dump our grainy-filtered food snapshots are long behind us, the world is at our fingertips and we are all somehow expected to use that vast access responsibly…oof. As an internet geek who has jumped at any opportunity to delve into a new app for the last ten years, I thought I’d share some of my tips to…well, do the opposite! This is how I’ve cultivated a healthy relationship with social media…
1. First and foremost….LOG OFF!!
Okay now don’t get the wrong idea, I am not the “Ben Franklin was a witch, go off the grid, delete your profiles” type, but I have been in this game long enough to know those the deep dives into the weird parts of youtube that will keep you up till 3:00am need parameters! There’s dozens of apps that will track your hourly usage and help you set boundaries (my personal favorite is called Moment, it’s got great basic features for free and you can set Jim Carrey’s “most annoying sound in the world” as your log-off alarm so obviously I was sold.) I treat my screen time like a job (sometimes it is, I do social media management for a handful of companies) and I do my best to “clock out” at a reasonable time every night. It helps me sleep uninterrupted, it encourages me to wind down with a movie or a book at the end of a day, it stops me from aimlessly scrolling through cat videos, all positives!! That “Do Not Disturb” setting is your best friend.
2. Screen your feed!
In contrast to my first disclaimer, I DEFINITELY am the type of gal that unfollows anyone/thing/brand that I deem unnecessary…and I do it without a second thought. At least once a week, I go through my list of accounts I’m following and I filter out anything that isn’t serving me in one of these ways:
1. Career Inspiration (Dancers, Choreographers, Companies who are fulfilling my life goals.)
2. Creative Inspiration (Artists or Artist-types that regularly share content that sparks my imagination or motivates me to create.)
3. The Good Stuff (This category is more vast; stuff that makes me laugh, close friends and their personal endeavors, gives me advice, challenges for my brain, or just stuff that gives me those daydream-y vibe like pretty photography!)
At first glance it may seem incredibly specific, but as someone who was once following well over 3,000 accounts I have learned the value in where my “follow” is placed! If I’m gonna check my phone a hundred times a day, I never want to waste those moments looking at things that would make me feel lesser-than, negative, or distracted. It’s easy to follow a million accounts of “public figures” and their picture-perfect lifestyles in the name of “inspiration”, but I say if it isn’t making you feel empowered to see them pop up on your feed, unfollow that shizz dude!!! You’re in control of what you see, and in response the algorithms will tailor your recommendations to the things you truly care about!
3. This last one gets a little existential so hold on tight…sometimes we all need the reminder that all of this could disappear!
I think that it’s cool to see people who have made careers out of their social media presence, most of these platforms have truly become more business than social and I say if it’s your jam, go for it! Build that following! Get those sponsorships! Post those cute af selfies and get thousands of likes! However, as we have all witnessed, it’s easy to forget that there was a point where none of this existed, and it wasn’t that long ago. When I find myself getting overwhelmed with the many responsibilities of cultivating an internet personality, I take a step back and ground myself to reality. I make a phone call to chat in depth with a friend or family member who I haven’t seen in a while but have kept up with their Facebook updates, I write down my latest life “highlights” in my journal, I send some pictures to Walgreens to print out and hang on my fridge. The tangible stuff has gotten away from us as a society quite a bit, and while I’m all for livin’ in “the future”, there is so much value in being present in the world around us. If your Instagram was deleted tomorrow, what would you miss?
My grand conclusion!! My relationship with social media is always going to be tumultuous, sometimes I’m excited by connecting with tap dancers all over the world and sometimes I swear I am going to throw my phone out the window if one more of my high school friends tries to rope me into another pyramid scheme…but I know that all the negativity I could be spewing about the way times have changed is not serving anyone! I encourage myself and everyone I can reach to truly consider the responsibility we all have for ourselves and the world with this powerful communication tool. Tell as much of your truth as you feel comfortable with, build an online “community” you’d want to live in realistically, take as many breaks as you need, and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not allowed to follow as many BTS fan accounts as your heart desires…
Keep it real! - jz