When a person strikes up a perfect flow with their work, especially in a creative field, it’s vital for them to maintain this focus--any changed variable can alter their oneness with the task at hand. While in the past it may have been easier to block outside distractions, the presence of unrelented communication on our computers & phones has made this creative isolation nearly impossible. You check a text while working on a graphic or song, and open Twitter after replying without even thinking. After scrolling through random content for a few minutes, you go to open up Photoshop but you’ve found that you lost the creative “tone” you struck prior to the text. In the process of writing this post, I’ve probably opened my phone three times. With that habit, time is wasted not just when I’m looking at my phone, but bouncing back into the “flow” when I’m looking at the blank page.
Considered on a broader level, the possession of unceasing information seems to have removed boredom from our agenda. Unless you came prepared with a book or journal, waiting for that bus would be pretty dull 20 years ago--drive past a bus stop now and I bet most people are burning those 10 minutes on their phone. But isn’t there something to be said about boredom? Contrasting one’s expectations, the gap between tasks can be one of life’s biggest rewards: whether you contemplate your next business moves on the train, or shine a spotlight on some facet of self-improvement while waiting for a haircut. I doubt this website would exist if I didn’t stare my boredom directly in the eyes to uncover what I truly want to accomplish in life.
While I understand it’s not such a defined choice between refreshing your Twitter feed and self-actualization, habits develop quickly unless you look at it from a macro view. But if you combine all those “short” moments you spend on social media in even a day, I’m sure you can make a serious dent in that book you’ve been meaning to read, or learn that program you could see yourself benefiting from.
With that being said, I’ve been exposed to so many perspective-changing artists via social media, that I can't imagine giving it up at this point. In this sense, who you engage with online seems to have big effect on how substantive your time on the web will be. You are what you eat, you become who you surround yourself with, etc--there’s a million ways to say it, but I’m a firm believer that your character is altered by whatever you immerse yourself in. If you follow a lot of fitness heads on Twitter/IG, I’d be surprised if your life doesn’t become more focused on working out. From a creative perspective, I’ve found that what you’re exposed to on a daily basis affects your critical eye for whatever medium you’re working in. If street photography’s gotten homogeneous lately, I would imagine the proliferation of mediocre, Instagram-conscious photographers has something to do with it. On a different note, if you’re a graphic artist and you follow a bunch of shitty designers, I’d be surprised if your perception of quality isn’t altered.
Many say, and I may agree, that because there is a person behind the phone screen it will always contain genuine interaction. But I note a certain distortion in communication because of its remote-nature--the lack of eye contact and vocal cues allow for a sort of facade through words. Anyone who’s attempted a sarcastic quip on the web will understand that limitations of digital interactions. There are no signs that these new mediums of communication will slow down, so it seems face-to-screen sociology may become as prominent as face-to-face.
Any “little” psychological implications attributed to social media, or this new phase of hyper-responsive content, shouldn’t be dismissed as such. How does one’s affirmation on their graphic/photo change if they get fewer likes than other posts of theirs? What are the effects to a person’s ego if they get thousands of followers in a short time span? How does an “internet friendship” compare to a connection in the real world? We continue to answer these, and other questions about this digital renaissance, with a certain judgemental, historical perspective, but as younger generations take the reign of society, it’ll be interesting to see how the curtain between physical & digital life continues to fall.
I can’t imagine working in a creative field without the daily exposure to artists from around the globe, or the feedback I receive on my own output. I use Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat a bunch, so this piece isn’t meant to be a point of judgement for those who use social media. I guess I have just noticed habits in myself and others that I wanted to write down.