This morning while I was beginning my morning run, (the first time in a long time I might add) I started thinking about the digital world and how controlling and addictive it can be. Sure it’s only a bit of fun, seeing what old school friends are up to on Facebook, sharing their simply incredible lives with everyone they can. Following Z list celebrities on twitter, reading their paid for tweets, encouraging us to part with our hard earned cash for that next generation lotion or potion, or scrolling through post after post on Instagram, a window into other people’s perfect lives, the fun they are having, the friends they have, the food they are consuming. What we fail to remember is that this is filtered. It’s not real life, we pick and choose and screen what we share online. But why? To simply appear to be having more fun than we actually are, curating a cool lifestyle on the internet. Something I’m sure we are all guilty of doing from time to time. No one would really be interested if you posted our mundane lives, minute by minute, meal by meal.
Step after step of repetitive, monotonous running my brain was working overdrive as my feet pounded the pavement beneath, (that reminds me, I should probably invest in some new trainers). Why is it that we lust and crave digital love? Maybe it’s something to do with what we are missing in real life, in our relationships or something we’ve never really experienced. For me, I feel that the internet goes hand in hand with the creative lifestyle. I don’t think you could survive without an online presence. It’s this confident demeanor that we project online, to potential clients and other creatives.
Years ago, artists and illustrators would send out postcards and small mailers to publishing houses and art directors in anticipation of a potential phone call or even a meeting. Their career revolved around having an up to date portfolio, printed, in a hard back leather case with gold trim on the edges. Importance being the meeting and selling themselves as the perfect match for the job in hand. Nowadays all you need is an online presence, whether a simple online portfolio site, created on Behance, Flickr, etc or a fully fledged interactive website with bells and whistles and you are out there, competing with the very best in the business. Art Directors and Art Buyers can browse your portfolio on their smart phone from the train during their morning commute.
The problem with more and more online social media platforms are that the work becomes diluted, no matter how brilliant or unique it might be. Many of us link all our social media sites together, or post new work across numerous platforms. We tweet about it, blog it, facebook and many more. Desperate for those likes, retweets, appreciations and comments, but for no real reason apart from to simply feed our egos. Being popular on the internet doesn’t translate to being successful. There are plenty of incredible illustrators working at the moment who are practically unknown, compared to the illustration rock stars. These people don’t tweet apologising for being away from twitter for a day or two, to be honest, no one even noticed. The world carries on, even without their outright online bragging.
As I ran through a local park full of woodland I thought how nice it was to be disconnected from an online inhabitance, free from technology and you know what, it felt great, head down and power on. Feeling the heat of the sun on my skin, my eyes focused on the concrete in front of me, rather than dull glow from my computer screen. Running past people, on autopilot shuffling along absorbed in their phones. Now there is nothing wrong with producing work and sharing it online amongst your peers, gaining valuable feedback and approval. Like Paul Arden says, “Do not seek praise, seek criticism”. If you create a piece of work, you will eventually convince yourself that it’s good because others have said so. Rather than pushing yourself to become truly successful. Stop playing it safe and earn the success by failing along the way. Something that may be adored online, doesn’t mean the commissions and job offers are going to come rolling in. I’ve told myself to try and stay away from current trends and popular style, sure there is nothing wrong with gaining inspiration and learning from others but nothing is more awe inspiring than being away from your working environment with your own thoughts for company. No distraction burning a hole in your pocket, no ability to check a plethora of ego feeding social networks.
If it’s one thing you do today, put your phone down, close the browser and engross yourself in something you know you should be doing, spend the time with a loved one, go out explore, have an adventure. Now, just don’t tweet about it. Share the moment with someone you care about, memories that only you can remember, it’s exclusive to that time and place and can’t be recalled or shared via Instagram.
The ironic thing is that this blog is posted online, and I will probably tweet about it too. Why? I like to tell myself it’s because I want to share my morning thoughts with other like minded people, creatives who deep down feel the same, but maybe, just maybe it’s to feed the ego.