Fri. Jan. 4, 2019: Social Media As Performance Art

Friday, January 4, 2019
Dark Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Getting in gear for what I want to get done in 2019.

Yesterday, I got some writing done (not enough) and worked with a client. It was a tiring day, although a good one.

I’m going to see how next week goes; if it’s similar to this one, I’m going to start getting up an hour earlier to get in more writing. I’m so tired when I get back from this one particular client that it’s hurting my writing. I’ll be wrapping a project there in the coming months, but I can’t afford to lose as much writing time as I’ve been losing, due to exhaustion.

I’ve added an additional yoga session at night, before the night meditation. To get the kinks out before getting to bed.

Weight trained yesterday (one of my designated days). I was still a little sore from Monday’s session, but I still like the way I’m easing into it. Too often, we push too hard at the start of the year, and then lose heart when we can’t keep up.

So I’m hitting the ground running in the sense of the plan, but I’m also being more careful in how much I take on at any given time. Or trying to. You know how that blows up.

I came across information from a friend I’d had all the way back in high school and shot off an email just to say hi, never expecting to be remembered. But my friend does, and we’re catching up. Which is fun. I’m glad I did sent the email!

I’ve been thinking about social media lately, and how so much of it is a form of performance art.

No matter how “authentic” we choose or intend to be, we still choose what to reveal and what to keep back. As we must.

There’s a lot of pressure on job seekers to be careful on social media. That’s a post for Ink-Dipped Advice, but my take on that is that if they don’t like what I do on social media, they won’t like what I do in the office, either, so I’m not parsing my words to please some unknown future client.

I’d rather stand for something and not get the job than be a coward and compromise my integrity in order to get it.

But it IS a form of performance art.

You build an audience. They feel the same sense of possession and connection and emotion as does the audience at a theatre performance or a film screening. Or, even more, as the audience does of a show they regularly watch.

Our social media audience knows us and doesn’t know us. We connect on certain levels, sometimes in ways that might carry over into life, sometimes that won’t. Some relationships become unbalanced. We do get to know certain people who can become genuine relationships, but there are also others that are more pleasant at a distance, or are just for the moment of connection, and then both parties move on. When one of the parties doesn’t move on, it can cause problems.

I’ve certainly worked with enough actors where audience members feel an intimacy with the performer that exists within the plane of the work, but not with the performer directly.

The plane of the work is when the artist’s work touches the soul, and the audience’s response allows the artist to create more work. That comes in the form of approval or challenge or applause or questions or money == most often a combination.

The audience expects to be fed. The artist needs to keep creating material to feed the monster, or the monster will move on to someone else who feeds them more regularly.

That can become a burden — for an actor, for a writer, for a creator on Patreon, for someone with a huge online following, be it on social media or on a blog or whatever.

Personal boundaries are important, while still feeding the audience. I think the best thing one can do is be honest when one needs a break. I know I don’t like to announce publicly when I’m going away (even when there’s a cat sitter living at the house), because I feel like I’m asking to be burgled.

At the same time, when we travel for appearances, conferences, etc., we have to get the word out there in order to bring in the audience, in order for the audience to meet us in person.

Which can be equally daunting.

I’m an introvert. There’s a reason I worked backstage rather than onstage. I don’t enjoy acting; I don’t enjoy being the center of attention.

The work is important. I like to be in the shadows.

But now, writers are supposed to be out there exposing everything even more than actors. I don’t agree with that. I don’t believe it enhances the work. It certainly can be exhausting for authors.

The flip side of that, is that I enjoy meeting people at conferences. I enjoy teaching workshops. I’m fine one-on-one. It’s the performance aspect I don’t like.

Which is why so many introverted writers are grateful for social media. We get to connect with our audience, we get to feed them, and we still get to stay in the shadows. We are both performer and our own stage manager, when we do it well.

I don’t like being forced into a spotlight. I don’t use author photographs or post selfies. That’s not my thing. I don’t like my workshops video taped or attendees to take photos and post. I don’t pose for photos at networking events. I know I was there. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. There’s no reason pictures of me need to be up on the Internet. It’s not about me. It’s about the work.

Keeping part of yourself back for only yourself, your art, your intimates in life isn’t “lying to the public” as is far too often the accusation. It’s an absolutely necessary measure of self-protection for the work and for the soul.

Everyone — writer or anyone else — needs to make their own choices about how much to share, how much to perform, how much to keep back. It is a personal choice, and not up for debate with the audience.

Audiences as an entity are fickle anyway. Individuals within the audience may become loyal, but the entity itself will always be chasing something new, something promoted as the “next big thing.”

Make your choices. Change them as you need to. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Client work this morning, then a few appointments this afternoon. I have to finish a book review and get that out. I have to write a good bit over the next few days.

The first batch of books for the contest has shipped, and will arrive in a few days.

I’ve also got to finalize some proposals that need to go out next week.

I should wait until Sunday to take down all the holiday decor (is it that time already?), but I’m going to start Saturday. I have a fancy dress party to attend on Sunday night, so I’d like to get as much done ahead of time as possible.

I’m signed up for a course on Human Rights in Open Societies out of the university in Utrecht, Netherlands. It starts in early February, and I’m looking forward to it.

Have a great weekend. I sort of feel like the year actually starts as of Monday.