Just Post It
May 3, 2019
On Social Media & Living a Normal Life: Part 5—
I’m still participating in this spectacle by posting things, but I can’t say I’m carefree about it.
I miss the artist friends I made online. Being online let me stay connected to them and their work. Offline, I have just a few artist friends/colleagues. I have many true, deep, constant friends in my real-life circle, and I have life-long friends that I love who are just a phone call away from re-connection. But I don’t have offline artist friends who, like me, are working at this artist thing. Which reminds me of Jerry Saltz’s “How to Be an Artist: 33 rules to take you from clueless amateur to generational talent (or at least help you live life a little more creatively)”, published in November 2018 in Vulture.
As for social media, I put way too much thought into what to post, what not to post, what to do, how to do it. I’m spending way more time writing about posting on social media than actually posting on social media, though. Cal Newport has rules of engagement with social media that includes “no likes”: don’t click like, no quick comments, refusing to make relationships into bite-sized digital transactions.
But I’m going to have to modify it. If I post work and I want feedback through some sort of clicked acknowledgments delivered through hearts or thumbs up, how could I not do the same for artists I don’t see other than online? How can I skim through social media, just posting my work and wanting interaction about it, but not doing the same for others?
I want my social media spaces to show that I am working if anyone should happen to drop in there to see what I’ve been up to, and I want to keep in touch with artist friends and the work they do. Other than that… probably not much else. I want to keep up with other friends in the way I met them in the first place: offline. I don’t want to use these platforms to create the social fabric of my life. I can’t. I want to use my other tools: phone calls, grabbing coffee, going places with friends. My friends are a safe space. But social media platforms have other purposes then just being a place for me and my friends. I don’t want to pretend it isn’t used by people (and algorithms! and big data! and election hackers!) for all sorts of nefarious reasons. Kudos to all the people who’ve kept social media at an arm’s length all along. I wish I had.
Whatever happens, I’m an artist whether I post or not, whether I show my work or not, whether it’s purchased or not, whether anyone sees it or not. I don’t make it for any of those reasons, and I’m glad I don’t have to. I make art because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do and I love it. At the same time, I know I’ll keep having semi-occasional conniptions over what the point of all of this artmaking is, where/if I will show it, what role it plays in my life or my community. I’ll keep trying to figure out if my failure to do X as an artist comes from a character failing or a stamina failing or a brain injury failing or an I’m a special-needs-parent so it’s not a failing, failing. I know I’ll try to solve for the reason I’m failing at X in my artist life even when I don’t know what X is because I don’t know what I really want out of it other than making the best art I’m capable of making. My ambition and envy and dissatisfaction and striving tell me I want way more, but my contentment and gratitude and enjoyment of my work tell me I already have what’s most important to me.
Either way, I will keep working towards making the art that I picture in my mind, while at the same time… I’ll also keep wishing I could get gallery representation in SF or LA or NY with a gallerist who’s involved and dedicated to her artists. I’ll keep imagining what it might be like to see my work hang in public institutions one day, too, or I’ll keep wondering if I can make art that plays a role in my community, that does something more than hang on a wall. At the very very least, I will keep trying to finish all the projects I’ve started because OMG I just can’t start another new project idea because if all the other neuroses don’t ruin me, then having 10+ half-completed projects that no one will ever see: that will do me in.
I have an ordinary artist life. I make artwork even when it has no destination other than my own website and my own walls. I try to figure out how to promote my work on my terms. (I’d rather have nothing but have it on my terms than the other way around.) In the meantime, I enjoy the abundant goodness that lives in my home: my strong-in-all-the-ways-I’m-not husband, my growing boys, my sweet mom, my dog that is currently snoring very loudly. Maybe I’ll check out more real-life art circles in the Bay Area if I’m able (probably not, life limitations ugh). I’ll use social media without letting it use me (I’ll try). I’ll stick with emailing and regular-mailing letters to people. Some of them are to writers, artists, and other thinkers, while others are friends I try to keep up with. I’ll even have more long phone conversations, where I can hear the voices of my friends, listening to them, seeing them. I will keep making art. And maybe this year I will figure how to get it out into the world where it can be seen.
We’ll see how it goes.
~ Maritza Ruiz-Kim
Series: On Social Media & Living a Normal Life
ok, this series is freaking done, the insanely long essay I published here in February, divided and semi-re-written into five separate posts because I wanted to try short-form or… not-as-long-form. Now I can move on to the other things I want to write about.
Links for this series:
- Article at Reuters.com: “Megaphones and more: Mueller details Russian U.S. election meddling“
- Article at Pew Research Center: “Code-Dependent: Pros and Cons of the Algorithm Age“
- Article Series at NYT.com: The Privacy Project
- Article at NYT.com after one of the biggest terrorist attacks since 9/11:: Sri Lanka Shut Down Social Media. My First Thought Was ‘Good.’ by Kara Swisher, editor-at-large of Recode
- Article at TeenVogue.com: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Explained Why She’s Imposed “Little Rules” on Her Social Media Usage” by Lucy Diavolo
- Book, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
- Book, Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe by Roger MacNamee
- Video, NYT’s “Opinion Video Series”: Operation Infektion: Russian Disinformation from Cold War to Kanye
- Podcast, Vox’s “The Weeds”: Facebook is Bad, Please Join Our Facebook Group
- Podcast, Vox’s “The Ezra Klein Show”: Cal Newport on Taking Your Life Back from Technology
- Podcast, NYT’s “The Book Review”: Assessing the Facebook Problem
- Podcast, NPR’s “Morning Edition”: Facebook, Google Draw Scrutiny Over Apps that Collected Data From Teens