Being a creative in 2023 is a power struggle, between wanting to spend time away from the screen, experiencing life to influence you own art – to being fixated on the stats on Instagram, Facebook or KDP to see whether the marketing you’re financing, or that Tik Tok you made is having any difference on getting you out there – to see whether that meritocracy on the internet everyone bangs on about actually works. Spoiler, it’s pay to win.
There seems to be a lot of influencers around nowadays, so many people recording Reels or trying their best to become semi-known YouTubers – trying to build an audience by any means necessary, to have eyes on them.
Looking at it through a lens, it’s interesting to see how many of these people actually want to become influencers, compared to those who just want people to listen, read or watch their work. Sadder still, are the ones who catch the wind, only to find themselves satisfying the content algorithm of these social media conglomerates, leaving little time to work on their passionate endeavours. Many a tale too, of people who have finally produced work they’re proud of, only for their audience to not have any interest, as it isn’t the content they subscribed for.
This domino effect then knocks the confidence of the content creator, not because of the lack of quality – but because their curated audience, built via memes, commentary or the like, is simply not interested. In building an audience, many build the wrong one in search of opportunity.
That’s not to reduce the effect of getting your name out there, nor am I saying that 0% of that audience will buy-in to your creative work, there will always be outliers. Just that content generation to build an audience, is creative content in itself – that takes time, effort and brain power – all of which are being taken away from your main endeavour. Add a part or full time job into the mix too, and you’ve got an exhausting schedule at the least, or complete creative burnout.
I go too-and-fro with social media, whether it is a benefit or a curse. Right now, as I write this, I believe it to be a curse. Sure, it keeps people connected across long distances, but I really didn’t need to see someone I grew up respecting share the most heinous, awful article I’ve ever seen. Nor do I need to know what all of my friends are doing at every moment of every day, or more so now, what the companies who pay for advertisements want me to believe they’re doing everyday.
It’s a double-edged sword, print is dead, SEO and retention driven content reigns, clicks are money. The doom scroll is an infinite money spinner, but it’s a meritocracy – I’ll post a meme and maybe one of the three thousand people who view it will buy my little book. But to a lot of the user base, it’s just another meme or another ad, failing to break the trance of the finger scroll.
That’s why I stopped – I’m done, I’m sick of the eight hours a day screen time – keeping social media to keep the photos I never bothered saving anywhere from disappearing, or in case the one post I make on my author account actually converts to a read. I put my heart and soul into pre-advertising ‘Sputnik’, and it sold much less than ‘The Toucan Man’. My deduction? Ads are annoying. The internet is fantastic, but overbearing. Advertising ‘Sputnik‘ gave me anxiety, and I doubted my own credentials as a writer when it sold poorly – the statistics made me feel bad about myself, my lack of audience made me feel bad about myself, social media made me feel bad about myself.
So, I’m unsubscribing. I’m not posting on social media anymore, I’m done. Instead, I’m going back to shadow dropping books, entering them into competitions and telling my friends. If an audience comes, it’ll come for the right reasons and I won’t be losing myself in the process.
I’m not obeying the algorithm anymore, I refuse to give it power. I’m done commodifying my passions, and giving my talents a fiscal value. The fact I can look at physical copies of both ‘Sputnik’ and ‘The Toucan Man’ is enough for me, and the handful of genuine heartfelt expressions of praise from those who read them cover to cover. For those, I can’t thank you enough, you are the ones who keep me motivated, because you enjoy the stories that I enjoy writing.
Social media can feed envy and hatred, as well as the opposite. In a world where negativity reigns, and people become things they’re not for attention. I’m taking the opportunity to leave the arena, to keep my little website and write what I want.
No clout, no doom scroll, just food for thought. I’m touching grass, for my own mental wellbeing. Hobbies are allowed to be hobbies, we’re not all going to be the next Jackson Pollock, John Lennon or Stephen King and that’s fine by me. Sometimes it’s nice to just do things for fun, even if they won’t make any money or build any audiences.