In an effort to bring alignment to who I am as a person, an artist, and small business owner, 2019 will be more community and socially focused. And I am NOT talking about social media.
Happy 2019! Is it just me, or did 2018 roll by like a high-speed train? I spent the holidays in my birth home of New Orleans where I promptly got sick, so I spent much of my trip moaning on my Uncle’s sofa. My trip to NOLA was pretty much a perfect picture of NOLA: Challenging, interlaced with beautiful shining moments. It was a great reminder of why I loved living there and why I chose to move away.
After my locals’ holiday sale and my December online pop up shop, I was wore out, Y’all!!! I took about 3 weeks off from work. I’m sorry I’ve been MIA, but I felt I needed to reassess some things before diving into the new year. The fact is that I’ve been working really f-ing hard over the past 2 years to grow my art biz, and the hard, cold truth is that many of my efforts just aren’t working.
I realize that the way I’ve been going about “speaking” to people isn’t making me happy. In fact, it feels forced, in a used car salesman sort of way. Unauthentic and definitely not something that is rising above all of the other noise that we are all bombarded with on a daily basis. Specifically, I’m talking about the noise of social media. However, after spending much time reflecting on my Uncle’s sofa with the Facebook app deleted from my phone, I realized that what’s bugging me goes beyond social media and actually dives into who I am as a person and how I want to participate in life.
I have spent the last 4 years educating myself in 21st century marketing.
Unless you’re hiding in a cave somewhere, you know that these days, social media is a big part of marketing and delivery of information. All of the courses that I’ve taken and all of the business coaches that I’ve worked with, have social media at the top of the sales funnel, making me believe that it is a mandatory part of running a business in this day and age.
I’m calling bullshit on that.
People who like social media for personal use say that it’s an intimate way to stay in touch with friends. That may be a nice part of social media but there is a darkness there as well that I feel social media supporters ignore. It’s in the form of data sharing, fake news, trolls, and staying in touch with only the parts of people that they want to show on their timelines. On the business side, there is the cold hard fact that unless I pay, only 5% of my followers see what I post. 5%. That’s it. But I can boost that post for only $20 and more will see it. Nice, Mr. Zuckerberg. Real nice.
I had a back and forth about this with a friend on Facebook that ended when I suggested that he call me and we talk about it. Silence. It makes me sad that people would rather engage with a screen than in an actual dialog in real time. In the past 2 years, I have made posting content every damn day a priority in my marketing plan. I have had some friends make purchases from my posts on my personal Facebook page, but nothing from my business page and Instagram has yielded nothing in the way of sales.
Then there is the ugliness that people feel they are entitled to express because they are hiding behind a screen. I got to experience that first hand after I published a controversial essay to my blog. I have not had one person say anything negative to my face, but with fingers to a key board, and the anonymity of the internet, they say all sorts of horrible things. I find that pathetic.
What feeds my soul is to participate in my actual life rather than in a virtual world where much of the time, only people’s “good sides” are shown (both physically and emotionally). I don’t want to see only a person’s best of reel. I also want to see the pain and struggle that leads to beautiful growth and fragility. Not just the stuff that makes one appear strong, but a vulnerable expression, which in my opinion, is more foundational to building true strength.
I don’t just want to see my dear friends’ baby’s pictures on my phone or laptop. I want to hold those babies, smell the top of their heads, wipe milk spittle from their mouths and feel them grow heavy with sleep in my arms. Getting on a plane and visiting a good friend who while pregnant was terrified of motherhood, be with her new son with a natural confidence she didn’t know she had was one of the most beautiful moments of our friendship. I saw her become a mother. I can’t feel that on a screen.
So why on earth did I think that social media would be an effective voice for my art??? This seems so simple now. I find social media to be life manufactured so it only makes sense that in trying to talk about my art, the expression that comes from my soul, it sounds fake and forced on social media. Especially when I’m having to come up with new content to post daily. What if I simply don’t have anything to say that day or that month? Why should I “have” to do that? I believe that this disconnect is why my efforts to grow my art business online has not worked.
Now I know what you’re going to say: “But you shared this blog post on social media…”. You’re right, I did. I did it because today, I have something to say. One glass of wine a day is good for your heart, while two bottles a day can be detrimental to your health and a sign of deeper issues. When I was drinking, two bottles were never enough. Social media is addictive and a slippery slope for me, and just like alcohol, it can turn into an attempt to fill the holes within myself that will never be filled by reaching out, only by looking in. "Thank you Sir! I'll have another dopamine hit!" Ugh. It straight up depresses me.
I believe when social media becomes our #1 way of communication, when we use it as the most walked path to connect with people, we are missing out on a large part of life. It is only a partial connection, absence of the part that is messy and beautiful all at the same time. The part that makes us vulnerable humans. What makes me sad, is that we've gotten used to it and this partial connection is seen as normal. It's not. We need to physically be with other people...or at least, I do.
So, going forward into 2019 my motto is: MORE FACE TO FACE, LESS FACE TO SCREEN. I’m going to participate more in my community. Not only is that where 95% of my sales come from, but it makes me feel like a complete person. This year, more think tanks with beautiful creatives. More vision board meetings with inspiring ladies who refer to themselves as “Visionistas”. More participation and volunteering in beach clean ups, surf competitions, silent auctions and teen workshops. More coffee dates. More connection. It is the disconnect that is making us sick as a society, effecting our ability to empathize, and is riddling young people with anxiety.
If you’re a person that doesn’t get negative feelings from social media, enjoy! If you are the one living in a cave, please send me the cave address and I’ll be by soon with homemade brownies. I ask you…where will your time be best spent this year. Fingers on the key board or fingers digging in the sand? I want the sand. Bring on the warm, beautiful grit.
The photo at top is a work in progress from a new series that I'm working on called, "I Choose to See the Beauty". Stay tuned for more updates on this series. It's all about perspective, Y'all!
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.