Of Memes and Media

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With almost 56,000 tweets in 3+ years on Twitter, and over 500 art-for-today images posted on Beans’ FB page in the past 19 months (in addition to other business postings there about brick & mortar friends, products, and other biz stuff), I’m pretty much a social media hound.  For better, and for worse.

The better?  I love social media most when it’s a forum for creativity, surprise, honesty and experimentation.  And for gratitude and support and love, too.  And for plugging your products sometimes, of course.

The worse? Well, that’s the topic of today’s post.

We all know by now the more obvious parts of “the worse.”  Getting sucked into the black hole of Precious-Time-Lost by watching video clips of God-knows-what-or-why.  Checking the screen every seven minutes to find out whether the world “likes” what you just posted.  Devising internal emotional ways not to get peeved by friends’ and families’ ways-of-posting that grate against the way you do life.

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Here’s another “worse” that’s starting to dawn on me . . . the “danger” inherent in it all starting to look the same.

(“Danger” is in quotes here because it’s not any life-threatening peril.  And because it’s not worth getting anyone’s panties in a bunch about: it’s the way life goes, and I do not intend to start some up-in-arms, panties-in-bunch movement about it.  But it’s something to think about as we scroll down the increasingly-endless series of words and images that flick on our screens and on our eyeballs.)

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This week, my social media feeds — that’s what we all post together, me and you and all of you who I follow everywhere — have started to look and feel to me like the box strip malls just minutes off of every seventh exit on every freeway in America.

First:  sorry for saying that out loud.

Second:   yes, I realize my own posts are part of this strip-mall-ization.

Third:  I realize it’s just how life goes.  It’s part of the meme-ization of things.  Of how ideas or images take off, and then take over.  (And then run their courses, making room for the next memes that will have their “15 minutes.”)

My social media feeds have their Kohls, TJ Maxxes, Targets, Chipotles, Starbucks, Applebees.  They are the canned tweets to sell our books.  The “What kind of ____ are you?” test results on our FB pages.  The “We’ve got to stop this now!” links to news sources on our posts.  The 10-second video clips of whatever we just did or thought was funny.

And they are also the inspirational quotes+images EVERYWHERE.

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I, of course, am guilty of helping to build this particular brick-and-mortar establishment in the strip mall of our social media streams.

And here’s the deal, and the problem . . . the “worse” this post is about when it comes to “for better and for worse” in the world of social media that I love and sometimes also don’t:

What was once creative starts stifling creativity.

When I started posting art-a-days in January, 2013 (at the kind prompting of Cathy Curtis, as part of a year-long challenge to do one every single day for a year), they were fresh and raw and new.  And I loved seeing their styles morph and stretch and become sometimes bolder, sometimes more witty, sometimes not, as the months went by.  I so loved the process that when 2014 came around, I kept it up (except for Sundays).

This week, that changed.

They just started looking to me like all the other “inspirational quotes+image” meme entries in the endless stream of “inspirational quotes+images” that are all over Twitter and FB and Instagram.

In other words, not fresh.  Not exciting.  Not like something that was fun to put in the world.  Instead, I felt a nagging ugly feeling of, “Wow . . . I am now just adding more to this meme that has started to drive me crazy.”  Much like the “Put a bird on it” phrase so perfectly coined a couple of years ago, when every collage image in art (including mine) somehow included a bird.  Because it was the time of the bird.  Now, not so much.  What was a creative rage always runs its course, and then it’s time to mix things up and find something new.  If your brain and spirit like to create.

So, that’s the “worse” for today’s social media commentary . . . the way in which the rapid-fire and endless stream of imagery in our streams has the tendency to get us stuck in boxes . . . which might have in fact been doors opening when they began . . . but, through repetition by ourselves and others over time, inevitably became a box.  Like a big box store.  With overpowering and efficient and yet somehow dulling energy of its own.

Here’s to posting more honest and fresh, and moving out of the box whenever you need to.

 

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