Let me paint a picture in your mind. You wake up, ready to start a day of writing. You fix yourself a hot cup of coffee. Sweetened with caramel macchiato creamer of course. You settle down at your computer and log onto Facebook or Twitter to see what the world is up to and BAM!!!
HORROR! AND OUTRAGE! AND INTRIGUE! AND MURDER! AND ABUSE!
Now log off and go write a book. Have fun! Yeah, no. Not happening.
Me, reading my social media feeds.
I know that I’m not the first creative type to blog about this subject. But it’s important enough that I think it warrants repeat posts to further the subject’s reach until every creative is aware of it. Creative Types – Writers, Painters, Musicians, Dancers, Actors, etc. – it is okay to step away from news of current events in order to protect your creativity. I literally could stop there and I think everyone would understand what I mean. But I’ll get a little more in-depth, otherwise this would be a really short post.
The world we live in has never been perfect. There has always been turmoil, war, discrimination, and a host of other issues. But I think we can all agree that 2016 and continuing on into 2017 have been particularly rough politically. It's amplified by the fact that we have instant and constant updates on every major event. Social media is awesome for keeping us informed on what’s going on in the world. But it can also be emotionally draining.
Some days, scrolling through my feed there will be status after status or tweet after tweet on the latest scandal/incident/protest/bill passage/firing/death. My anxiety ratchets up super high every time I see the word BREAKING. Reading those statuses and tweets every day can take their toll. You might start to feel helpless, wondering what you can do to get involved. You might feel guilty for “frivolously” creating when there seem to be so many more important things going on. You might feel hopeless and think the world is going to continue being awful, so why even bother? And once you have those thoughts in your head, it can be extremely difficult to disengage from them and continue on with your creative work. And that’s why it’s important to step away from social media.
Listen. Your work is important. It’s important to you of course, because it is your baby. But it’s also important to others. Your book or piece of fan or original art or hilarious video might be the thing that brightens someone’s day. We all need to consume fine arts and other things we enjoy in addition to keeping up with current events. So do what you have to do in order to keep your creativity healthy and active. Filtering your social media to keep certain topics from showing up is a great start. Here are a few ways you can do that:
1) On Twitter, you can mute words, accounts, hashtags & phrases for specified periods. You can only list one at a time, so it’s a little time-consuming, but it’s worth it. Go to your Settings & Privacy and select Muted Words to use this feature.
2) If you use Chrome, there are a few extensions you can use to filter the topics that appear on your feed for both Twitter and Facebook. Social Fixer for Facebook and Vital for Twitter are two examples.
3) Get off social media altogether. Believe me, I know how hard this can be. Social media is super addictive. But you can use an add-on like LeechBlock, which will block whatever sites you specify during certain times of the day, days of the week, etc. It’s also great for staying productive when writing in general.
The above methods can be very helpful in blocking out specific topics so that you can continue to use social media, without feeling overwhelmed by the world. In writing this post, I’m not saying that I don’t want to be informed. I do. I want to keep up to date because I feel it is my responsibility as a citizen and just for my own general awareness.
I also don’t expect people to stop sharing the things that they are passionate about. But at the same time, I don’t want to wade through a seemingly never-ending sludge of awfulness every time I log on to my favorite social media sites. I want to consume politics and other current events on my terms. So I’ve taken steps to filter my feeds and will check on the news at my convenience.
I love creating and I need to be in a positive mind-set in order to do so. If you’re also a creative (or any person who feels overwhelmed by social media) give yourself permission to block/hide/regulate anything that prevents you from doing what you love. You’ll thank yourself for it.
Thanks for reading!
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My rambling and not at all edited thoughts on romance novels, writing, wrestling, shoes, dogs, roller derby and whatever TV show I'm binging.