Welcome back to our monthly series Ask Angella, where we do exactly that.
If you’ve ever had a potentially sensitive creative question, we want you to throw it our way so that we can hand it over to Angella: our resident art writer, expert, and all-around kind, funny and wise human being. Here’s the question we’ll tackle this month:
“How do I maintain my business online while taking care of myself offline?”
Studies show that being online too much is bad for you. Social media erodes your brain power, your ability to be creative, and gives you an incurable case of FOMO. But it’s a bread-and-butter platform for any artist and creative, making it a nasty and necessary evil. More and more people are gravitating toward logging off, but a vast majority still use it as a place to showcase their work and build a network. So what do you do when your biggest gain is also depleting your soul?
Taking care of #1 (your mental health!) will never be an effort made in vain. It’s like when you’re on a plane and they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before you help someone else—you’re no good to anyone else if you’re not good in the first place.
How many people do you follow on social media and why? What was your intention in following them originally? Are you double-tapping out of support or obligation? Ask yourself some questions about why you use social media and for what purpose. When you open Pinterest or Twitter, is it to share new ideas? Meet new people? Reach bigger audiences? Engage in new ideas? Compare your initial intentions to how you’re using these apps in actuality and see what makes up the difference. That’s the fat to cut.
So, that person you followed two years ago when you thought you’d need to be connected to more illustrators? He’s out! That person you followed from high school out of pity? BYE, GIRL. If you can’t bear to completely unfollow or you know that that person is petty AF, try out the mute function—it works wonders.
How much time do you spend on social media? If you have a smartphone, both iPhone and Android’s operating systems now allow you to keep track of how many hours, minutes, and seconds a day you spend on social media. It may hurt to look at how much time you actually stare into the FOMO void of Instagram, but once you face it you can decide how you want to set future limits.
A recent study showed that “internet addiction is associated with structural and functional changes in brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention, decision making, and cognitive control.” Social media burnout actually affects your health and wellbeing, in addition to the quality of your creative output. Looking at algorithmic images for hours a day doesn’t help you innovate your practice so much as it contributes to embedding into your psyche the same pixels that half the world is looking at. Also, it contributes to brain damage! Brain! Damage!
Take a Break
We take vacations from work—do we? well, we try!—by pivoting from our desks or studios and going somewhere to relax. With real-time consequences for social media use, it’s imperative to rest our brains by logging off. And if you can’t log off forever, you can try to for a limited amount of time. Once I took a look (with one eye open) at how much I truly logged onto social media, I was horrified: five hours…a day. Only God can judge me! But it was only after I did that that I could set a limit—two hours—lock it into my phone settings, and stick with it. Sticking with it is the hard part, but it’s worth it.
Other apps you can look into to control your social media usage are Freedom, Offtime, and FocusMe. Remember, going offline is all around good for you: good for your health, creativity, and peace of mind. NO MO’ FOMO!
Deep breath, social media isn’t and never will be real life. Nothing can replace the warmth and realness of your IRL connections. That is, until the AI overlords take over and replace our brains with microchips. But until then, treat people and yourself well. And don’t forget to unplug every now and then.