Creatively Thinking: Too much social media kills creativity

I’ve decided the more I’m off social media, the more creative I can be, which is why it looks like another social media detox is coming up in the next week or so and it may last 30-days like I did earlier this year.

Actually, saving my creativity isn’t the only reason for dropping off social media – saving my sanity is more important at this point. In May I actually deleted my Facebook account, except for a ghost account to keep my blog page on there. Ignoring my better judgment, I went back on at the end of the summer and I can’t see that it has improved my life much at all.

When I slip into a depression slump I find myself scrolling through social media too much and when I scroll through social media too much I don’t do things I need to do or really want to do, like write my book or write a blog post or take photographs or – blah – clean the house. I just end up a depressed, moody slug sitting in front of my computer. I also end up angry, bitter and frightened for my children’s future when I look at the following sites: any national media “news” site, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, and sometimes even blogs.

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This past spring I did a social media detox and that’s when I started writing ‘A Story to Tell’ and decided to publish it as a weekly serial on here and then as a Kindle book. It would be cool if I had some amazing, cookie-cutter success story to share with the previous sentence, but I don’t. However, the success for me was writing and sharing the story was a distraction from social media, “news” (see this post for my real feeling on so-called national news these days), and from really bizarre behavior by some family members and former friends (this comment will probably warrant another letter from a former friend who recently accused me of being deceitful after not talking to me for two years. Yeah, that was … odd. But hey, she said she prays for me at the end of the letter so I guess that makes it all good.).

When I am still accessing social media, I end up so wrapped up in some nonsense I read that I can’t even remember what I was going to add to a story or that I have photographs I need to edit. I forget about everything except which food is going to give me cancer, which politician is the worst, and how I’m ruining my children.

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Social media is an addiction for many people and if you think it isn’t for you, do what I did last December and focus on how often you reach for your phone or computer to log into social media each day. In addition, really think about how many times you log into social media when you’re bored, lonely, procrastinating or avoiding real life (or certain people). I bet it’s more than you think because I know it was for me.

Another important aspect of asking yourself how social media affects you is noticing how you feel after you sign off of a social media, or news site.  Do you feel happier? I’m going to guess the majority of us can’t say we feel enlightened, elated, or hopeful about life after we’ve scrolled through Facebook or even Instagram (which is supposed to be the happy social media site because it’s all photographs, but really it isn’t all photographs because there is always some photographer who also wants to be an activist screaming at you about what you eat, watch, do, or who you support politically. )

Most important for creative people is to ask yourself if social media supports or hinders your creative flow. I’m going to guess, again, just a guess, that excessive social media use rarely supports creativity. In fact, the constant digital noise we engage in silences creativity altogether. How can you think of new ideas or use your imagination when someone or something is constantly in your ear telling you what you think and who you are. More than once in the last two years, I have read about the need for creatives, or anyone, to seek out more solitude and shut out the noise of the world around us.

Silence can facilitate daydreaming and daydreaming supports and strengthens our imagination. Imagination leads to creativity and then creativity leads to joy for even the most left-brained person out there. Creativity isn’t always about painting or writing or crafts. Creativity is also important for the technical thinkers out there who need time to think of plans for projects or lists for completing whatever it is that helps them feel more organized, which in turn makes them feel more grounded.

Why were there so many great writers hundreds of years ago and less and less as history moves forward? Because hundreds of years ago all people had time to do when the sun went down was think and daydreaming. “Think” can be a dirty word for the overthinker, yes, but it can also be an amazing word when harnessed for the right reasons and when it helps us create new or fun ideas. or even practical ones.

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In some ways,  I feel that social media is of the devil. Read on to see what I mean. It’s not that social media is all evil. It connects us with new people, new ideas, and different worlds. It helps us reach people in a way we never could before. The evil part of social media is that we have allowed it, and what is shared on it, to distract us to the point that we have pushed aside activities that could actually further our society. We have allowed it. Social media has no power over us that we don’t give it and many of us (me included) have given it awhole lot of power, let me tell you.

I don’t have any proof that inventions and innovations have decreased since the Internet and social media took over the world, and the exact opposite may be true in some fields, but I wonder if cures for cancer, or solutions to climate change, would have been found faster if half of us weren’t scrolling social media, watching the circuses that are our congresses and parliaments; judging our neighbors; tsk-tsking the family member or acquaintance  in the middle of a divorce who has decided to write about it on social media (no, this is not from personal experience. I’ve never witnessed anyone I know do this. I’ve only heard the example from others.); comparing ourselves to every other mother, writer, photographer, human being on the planet; and trying to change ourselves to fit some imaginary ‘normal’ in society.

Think about all the positive changes we could have made, not only in our own personal lives but in the world in general, if we weren’t staring at cat memes on our phones. I have a feeling Satan knows that and has enjoyed dangling stupidity in front of us so we wander off the path we should have been taking all along.

All of this to say, I need another social media detox and you probably need it too. During my break last year and earlier this year, I offered some tips how to “survive” (or rather thrive) when you leave social media (even if only for 30-days); what I had time to do once I set social media aside; and how I felt when I logged back into Facebook after such a long break.

I know some of my blog readers aren’t even on social media (God bless you!) and some were on and promptly logged back off again. What’s your experience with social media? Do you find it stifles your creativity or productivity? How do you handle that? Are you better than me at balancing social media with your real life? If so, I’d love some pointers about how you do it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. The last time I wrote about social media (Facebook for most of us), I had some really fun and insightful comments. 

 

 

Written by Lisa R. Howeler

As a writer, photographer and former journalist, Lisa R. Howeler writes a little bit about everything on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She self-published her first novel, A Story to Tell, in September 2019 on Amazon. She's a wife and a mother and enjoys a good John Wayne movie and a cozy Jan Karon book. She's also a freelance writer and photographer who is a contributor to various stock agencies, including Lightstock and Alamy. Her photography work focuses on documentary and photojournalism.

5 comments

  1. I always feel like such an oddball when around family and friends. I don’t use a cell phone, I know about but don’t use Pintrest, I tried and keep trying Instagram but I guess I am just not the narcissist type for that to succeed, and I don’t have a Facebook account.

    When I come into contact with relatives I haven’t seen in years (long story there) they always say to follow them on twitter, facebook etc… and I always say I can email, hand write and mail a letter, phone them up on a land line or they can follow my blog (which they don’t) if they want to connect with me. Otherwise it is face to face moments at once a year family get togethers. I actually have some great family members that have decided to try things this way and I love being in contact with them now. They always seem happier when they are off as well.

    One time I was trying to have a fun conversation with my cousin that I hadn’t seen for years and started talking about painting a floor and how fun that was to redo and she just gave me a look like why was I bothering her with how to redo a floor and then she shut me down and said with a sneer “Oh, I just go on Pintrest.” and then walked away.

    My daughter saw the whole thing and laughed like “What was that about.” and I just shrugged my shoulders. Guess some people don’t feel comfortable with face to face conversations on being creative.

    When driving around I see people looking down all the time at their cell phones meanwhile life is all around them passing them by. I get so many creative ideas when out in nature. It is beautiful to be surrounded by peace and quiet.

    You are right…the devil wants people to stop connecting, to be afraid, to hate their neighbors and family, to be greedy, jealous and vain with each other. All these things are covered in social media, the needing to keep up with everyone by buying the newest trends, the aps that cover our flaws and make us beautiful in fake ways, and just wanting everything we see that we believe others have when we see the beautiful lives they post about on line. What pressure to fake that all.

    The planet is also suffering with the way everyone needs to compete with one another by following a sheeple kind of way of thinking by doing everything everyone else is doing. The odd balls get attacked and hated. It is very sad. I do hope things start turning around.

    It is good that you are taking a break. Have fun with your family and do all those things that you love.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. When I first discovered social media and took a few looks, my reaction was always, “Why?” Nothing about any of the sites seemed to have any relevance to reality. When I published my first book, and then set up my first blog site, I figured that I ought to have a fb page and tweet links to blog posts, so I set those up (“following” the bare minimum of other people, as required for participation), and I may have garnered a reader or two that way for my blog, but I’m positive there has been no benefit to the publishing I’ve done. I tried setting up a pinterest, but it was confusing and didn’t seem to be worth the effort, anyway. I do have a personal fb account, where I get feeds from a few selected relatives, businesses, the National Weather Service, and academic think-tanks, but it takes me less than five minutes to surf that and get updates.

    In a perverse way, I’m glad that social media is out there to occupy the bread-and-circuses crowd, because otherwise I’m sure there’d be a lot more spam in my email (I remember when email was new, and everybody was sending out what in snail-mail days were called chain letters, and when social media was invented, that kind of nonsense disappeared from my in-box).

    Maybe it’s my age (I was raised in the day when creativity was the norm, not the exception). There are plenty of other things to fill up my time (some arguably more important than others). so I have no interest in maintaining an active presence on social media.

    Wishing you the best of luck with your detox.

    1. That’s true about the email! I remember that too!

      As for publishing – it’s helped me some but not a ton, no. I keep it up there for that and that’s about it. I rarely post on my personal page anymore and while I used to share tons of photos of my kids there I no longer do that either. It started to feel weird when I would start to tell someone I hadn’t seen in awhile about my life and they’d say “yeah… I read about that on Facebook” and then look bored. I realized they could care less about my life so why share it there or in person. And now I don’t see them online or in real life and life is good 😊

      Liked by 2 people

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