Social media is a hot topic these days, especially when it comes to mental health and overall well-being. Although we’ve all probably watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix and learned the different ways we can be manipulated, most of us are still on at least one social media platform.
There is no denying that being on social media is fun and can be incredibly beneficial for many people. Almost every working professional—even those who don’t work online—will feel the pressure to post content, and that can be great for our creativity. It can also be detrimental. Let’s start with how social media can help us.
It can help us stay connected
Songwriters really benefit from being on at least one platform. You can connect to other artists and find co-writers. You can have conversations in your community where you can find people who love writing and songs as much as you do. You can find fans who encourage you because they love your music. This really helps creativity flow, especially if you can get feedback from other songwriters.
It can be a source of inspiration
I love going to Pinterest for quotes or images that might inspire a new song. There are endless song prompts and ideas out there. Maybe you’ll stumble across some drama on Twitter that inspires you to write. You never know!
One reason I started posting on social media for the blog is because I wanted to provide little tidbits of tips and motivation that one could see every day and think of songwriting. There are so many great infographics, quotes and resources that you can find in seconds of searching certain topics and hashtags.
But like everything, the issue is always more complicated than it seems. Social media does not have to have the terrible effects it does, especially if you use it properly. Unfortunately, the facts are out there: there are certain behaviours that arise when we use certain apps. Here are the ones that affect our creativity, and not for the better.
It makes us self-conscious
I suffer from the inner critic and always have, and this was long before social media existed. But if we spend an average of half an hour a day on social media—and let’s face it, it’s probably much longer than that—then we are probably playing the comparison game much more than we thought. That comparison can make us self-conscious, which follows us into our writing sessions.
To combat this, try to catch yourself when you start to compare yourself with others. Personally, I can’t use any apps right before bed or right after waking up because it’s when I’m at my most vulnerable. Noticing when I engage in the comparison game and switching off immediately really helps me keep the inner critic at bay.
The addictive habit of scrolling
Scrolling is truly a mindless activity, and for some, it can become downright addictive. I’ve definitely caught myself scrolling when I’m in line at the grocery store, and it’s not because I’m checking something. Half the time, I don’t even notice I’m doing it. This may seem pretty harmless, but these were the times that my brain took to exercise itself. I would probably think about a song I was writing about.
There are a few ways you can limit the scrolling. I hide the apps around my phone so that it’s not the first thing I click on. I use the screen time feature to set a timer on how long I can be on certain apps. I take time away from my phone, but since it’s a safety device for me, this can be difficult at times.
There is definitive proof that many people find it difficult to log off from social media. Much like the mindless scrolling, constantly being online is distracting from most things, including writing. It can be much like binge-watching all eight seasons of a TV show: it’s a lot of consuming, and not a lot of thinking.
If you find limiting the time on your app doesn’t work, delete the app altogether. It’s uncomfortable at first, but I try to train my brain to be creative during those quiet moments, thinking about songs or stories. If I’m really clamouring for something, I find other ways to engage my brain, like an audio book or podcast.
Being on social media can feel like something it isn’t
Social media can be deceptive. Sometimes it feels like you’re relaxing, but really, you’re playing the comparison game against perfectly curated lives. Sometimes it can feel productive because you’re networking, but you’re missing out on those moments when you would normally be thinking of new song ideas. There is a lot of misinformation online, especially pertaining to health.
I hope this post is a sign for you to be mindful of where you direct your attention throughout the day, especially if you find yourself turning to social media when you experience writer’s block.