Originally intended as a way for collegiate chums to keep in touch, Facebook has now grown into a monolith of cultural proportions. While some see it as a useful technological tool capable moving the societal needle, others see it as distraction that dissolving the very fiber of society itself. Despite its polarization, Facebook isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Nevertheless, just for the sake of existential make-believe, let us pretend that Facebook doesn’t actually exist. Let’s just say for one day in a parallel universe where Mark Zuckerberg was never born and you never took the blue pill. More simply put, let’s just say you had a little or a lot more time on your hands—would you get more done?
As a young Black entrepreneur and writer, I ask myself the very same question constantly. According to a New York Times article, the average Facebook user spends about 50 minutes a day on the platform. I will admit that I am above average in that regard. Yes, I’m that guy on Facebook. And by “that guy,” I mean that guy who has four posts up before most people wipe the morning cold out their eyes. That guy who overshares so much that most people know my life’s story before they even meet me in person. That guy who starts getting all angsty and introspective at 2:00 a.m because he had one too many. But that was the “old” me. Now I find the more that I accomplish as a working creative, the more successes I have to maintain. The more successes I have to maintain, the less time I have for social media engagement.
Not to say that I’m on the Forbes List, but making strides and not only maintaining but increasing the momentum of those strides leaves little time for aimlessly scrolling through your timeline or engaging in digital fisticuffs when someone says something you don’t agree with. As of now, my relationship with Facebook has grown into a complicated one. On one hand, I appreciate it as a networking tool, an effective conduit, a living white pages in which working creatives can share their thoughts, their body of work and career benefiting opportunities in real time. On the other hand, I realize that Facebook can be a cyclical, mundane, pretentious, soul sucking, ego boosting abyss that leaves dreams deferred, agendas gathering dust and ambitious ne’er-do-wells wondering where the day went.
Enough about me and my ongoing grapple with Facebook, the main focus here is the macro. Being a working creative is no easy feat. Aside from possessing an undying optimism, the working creative community itself is so cognizant, sensitive and self aware that a juggernaut like Facebook and its effects on behavioral politics and patterns is nearly impossible to ignore. Human beings are easily distracted. We like wireless technology and shiny things—which can lead to procrastination.
Procrastination results in the death of more aspirations than all drugs combine. Procrastination is acidic rain to the cotton candy that is desire. Desire is a working creative’s lifeblood. Without it, we’re hollow husks incapable of making the rubber meet the road. So, is Facebook and other popular social media platforms such Instagram and Snapchat keeping working creatives from reaching their full potential? Or are we just looking to blame anyone or anything besides ourselves?
In an effort to examine the working creative’s give and take relationship with Facebook (and social media in general) even further, I decided to get the opinions of actual working creatives—from artists to consultants. Is the Facebook distraction vortex just a myth?
Mary Pryor, a digital marketer and social consultant, is a highly active working creative with a popular and entertaining Facebook profile. But Pryor confirms that the bogeyman is quite real:
Mary Pryor | Digital Marketing + Social Consultant
“Facebook is a fucking distraction. That’s not myth. If you don’t block your timeline or block using social, you will waste work time and life energy while not working. But it’s insightful. Don’t diss people don’t agree with you. Don’t fight people online. Take in what you need and learn how to temper away. It’s part of our culture now and for all intents and purposes people need to instill discipline.”
Just to set the record straight, Facebook is not all bad. As I mentioned before, it can be a very effective tool when it comes to staying updated and fielding new opportunities. A sculptor and light artist, Julia Sinelnikova has maintained a strong, growing social media presence while still building her resume and increasing her stock. Highlighting how a healthy usage of Facebook enables her to get ahead in her creative career and become a more successful freelancer, Sinelnikova recalls a recent beneficial instance and offers a tip of her own:
Julia Sinelnikova | Multimedia Artist
“As a full time freelance artist, I don’t use social media when I am art directing on set, but I will admit I spend much of my day connected to Facebook when I am in the “office.” Sadly it does lower your cognitive and creative quality to constantly click through unrelated images and info, but for someone in my field, opportunities and information sometimes come at light speed through these networks.
Recently I was commissioned by the New York City Parks Department for a one-year public outdoor sculpture, and I wouldn’t have found out about it had it not been for a DJ friend working at a community center who reached out to me on Facebook. If you keep your ear to the ground, you can make social media work for you and connect with clients. I do recommend waiting till a few hours have passed in the morning to get your mindset and day’s goals. Reading a email first thing in the morning can ruin your day. First, meditate.”
Spyridon P. Panousoupoulos, an account executive at MediaRadar, also vouches for Facebook in his own way. Although he acknowledges its downside, Panousoupoulos was one of the first to focus on Facebook’s creative benefits. When asked if Facebook hinders a working creative’s progress, Panousoupoulos had this to say:
Spyridon P. Panousoupoulos | Account Executive at MediaRadar
“I think in some cases yes. Anybody can fall down a Social Media hole. But in other cases Social Media may help find a different perspective to a creative challenge. There is so much of the group zeitgeist expressed through these channels that it can totally change the way you can look at how people feel about almost any topic. Shit, there are creative agencies dedicated to it now.”
Some prefer other social media platforms over Facebook. They find other platforms to be more streamlined and relevant to their process. In a sense, this is true. There is a lot of muck to shift through on Facebook. It can be exhausting. Ché Morales, a curator and creative director, is a fan of Instagram. Morales explains:
Ché Morales | Creative Director
“As a creative, for me Facebook is 100% a distraction. Since I’m friends on there with family, old class mates and old coworkers, the material that comes through my feed is all over the place. Once I get through the family photos, political posts and comedic memes, there’s not much there I find for inspiration creatively. It’s really more of a place I go to when I’m bored or to keep up to see how old friends doing. It’s definitely not a place I go to for creative inspiration.
Instagram on the other hand can be a lot more useful. I not only use it to promote my own projects and creative doings, but I’ve made sure to be careful to follow only creatives on there. So the content I see for the most part is creatively inspiring. Or I at least get to see what others are doing and what’s happening in the creative world. It’s almost like a quick online portfolio of what others are doing and it’s easily accessible. Instagram can be a double edged sword as well though. Since one person can lead you to another and the next thing you know your not even looking at something that has to do with the original subject. Like everything else social media should definitely be taken in moderation. One can easily get lost in a world where so much content is available, and that’s not always a positive or productive thing.”
While social media may be a convenient scapegoat for some and a useful forum for others, no one can deny the fact that misusage can have detrimental effects. Aside from potentially obstructing priorities and deteriorating one’s work ethic, it also can effect your mood and psyche. Graphic designer and visual artist, Megan Tatem, reveals the psychological and emotional pitfalls of certain social platforms:
Megan Tatem | Graphic Designer
“Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are emotional “distractions” at large, making me feel sad or half full on the day to day, but remain cultural instruments within my creative process. These mediums are equally important as they are insignificant.”
The truth is, social media can go either way. You can get sucked into the vortex or you can pull from it what you truly need to succeed. As we can tell from the quotes above, the experience can be subjective. However, the main theme and overarching narrative amongst these opinions is discipline. Much like any tool, social media has to be used correctly in order to be effective. But what do you think?
Akeem is our founder. A writer, poet, curator and profuse sweater, he is responsible for the curatorial direction and overall voice of Quiet Lunch. The Bronx native has read at venues such as the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, KGB Bar, Lovecraft and SHAG–with works published in Palabra Luminosas and LiVE MAG13. He has also curated solo and group exhibitions at numerous galleries in Chelsea, Harlem, Bushwick and Lower Manhattan.