New Instagram

As part of my commitment to releasing more work this year, I’ve set up an Instagram. You can add me if you like here. I plan on posting progress pics of artwork and to begin with, I’ll start posting old poems that I’ve already shared here, and maybe do some more readings that I’ll then upload onto my youtube channel. Maybe I’ll even be brave enough to record some of my music, but probably not for a while! Once in a while I’ll crosspost to the blog, but I’ll try to keep things fresh.

Next week I’ll hopefully get around to updating the contact buttons on the various sites, link everything together, and add the first content to my Instagram account, but I wanted to let you all know in case you want to be the first to start following. I generally follow back unless it’s an especially spam-y account.

The Popularity of Vanity on Social Media

I have inadvertently been running a social experiment on my personal Facebook page. About a year ago, I started a Tumblr blog as a way to advertise my skills indirectly and build my freelance business, and those posts go directly to my Facebook page and almost always involve pictures of myself. Or I’ll post pictures of things I’ve created, again usually with me also in the picture. These always get lots of “likes”, with comments about how I look. And I began studying my friends posts, and it is the changed profile pics or the fashion or done-up pictures or the selfies that get the most social validation.

But I also post about social and political issues that are important to me. Not frequently, because I don’t want to bombard people or depress them, but when I find a documentary that excites me or really want to press home an issue, I post about it. I try to speak clearly and passionately about these issues, with the goal of getting people to think for themselves. And I only get a handful of “likes”.

It’s become a little game to me though, balancing the vanity posts against the intelligent, more important posts, because I know the more people like the first, the more my other posts will show up in their feed even though they aren’t responding. I’m working the system to get my message across subtly, and that kind of entertains me. But it also pisses me off a little to think that people, even family, are more inclined to approve of my looks and my creative ability than in my ability to actually think and hold discourse. If I was the type to be influenced by the opinions of others, I’d be apt to shut up more frequently. Thankfully, I’ve never been shy about saying something that I think needs saying. I might need to work myself up to doing it, but it’ll come out eventually. But as an experiment, it says something about how a woman is valued still in this society, doesn’t it?

Here, on my Kat Micari site, my poems net me the most “likes” and comments, followed by posting my art, then my postings on the creative process. My random musings generally less so, but I have the luxury of not relying on this side of things for income. So I just post whatever I feel like.

Have any of you noticed trends in your posting that are kind of fascinating to think about on a broad social scale? Human nature in general is interesting to me.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Social Media

In further building upon my post from earlier this week about the cult of “me”, I have been considering how I feel about the entire concept of social media and the various ways it helps and hinders people to function as individuals and in society, and how it feeds the egocentric mindset that we all seem swayed to exist in. I truly do have a love/hate relationship towards the Internet as a whole, and Facebook specifically since that is the site I use the most in my personal and career mode.

The Good about Social Media:

  • It allows people to stay connected with others, increasing their potential for building and maintaining friendships as well as business networking. Between the two of us, my husband and I have someone in almost every major city in the U.S. that we could crash with if we needed to, and if those people in turn pass through our area, we relish the opportunity to feed and house them.
  • I love having the chance to share in the triumphs of the people who I’ve worked with on various projects and friends who used to be more present in my life. I enjoy seeing that beautiful babies have been born (although frequently could stand with a few less pictures) and learning about career and life advancements. And when someone has to share a tragedy, it allows me to send long emails or letters or packages as appropriate to the depth of our relationship, or to even just send a bit of online comfort through the social media, although that at times seems so lacking and phony to me.
  • It gives people the opportunity to stay informed. I enjoy reading various articles that some of the people I’m friends with or follow post, especially when I’m neck deep in various projects and can barely remember my own name. I told one friend of mine recently that I relied on him to keep me informed at such times because he does post a lot of really thoughtful articles and accompanies them with insightful commentary. It also, if you look for it, allows you to broaden your horizons and connect with individuals with a different worldview than your own.
  • It can give you support when you most need it. I am part of a closed and private Peaceful Parenting group on Facebook that contains a smallish group of women from across the US, and we’re all at various stages of “crunchiness” but we all strive towards parenting in the best interest of our children, which can be a rough road to follow, especially when some are fighting against being raised in abusive environments or spouses that have anger issues or live in parts of the country where things like breastfeeding and babywearing are frowned upon. Having a safe place to discuss almost anything is invaluable (we do tend to stay away from religion and politics to a large extent, to keep the waters as calm as possible, but I have other friends I go to when I want that kind of discussion).
  • It can help build your momentum as an artist/entrepreneur – I posted a picture of a completed project last week, and someone I’m recently friends with from another project said “I didn’t know you do that!” and we’re in beginning talks to have me create something for her now, which is money in my pocket and one more person talking about my work.
  • Having social media around makes it so people aren’t creating in vacuums. For me, there is an aspect of my personality that would love to hide away, never be online. To be that artist and writer that dies at an old age, never having shared anything with the world. Having the social media so readily available forces me to be more open about my work, my creativity, and my process. Which is important. I need to be forced outside my comfort zones.
  • I like Facebook because it allows me to reach quite a few people with my whole “create ripples to cause waves in others” goal. I post quite frequently, mostly with the goal to make people smile or feel good or a little silly, often slipping in a link to an article to try to get people to think, occasionally becoming overly passionate when I just can’t keep my mouth shut, and I know for a fact it’s had an effect on some people. I’m sure it’s had an effect on others but they just didn’t tell me, and they may never, but I’m fine with that. I don’t need to necessarily know.

The Bad about Social Media:

  • It is designed to be addicting. Much like prepackaged foods, social networking sites are made to hook you and keep you on for as long as possible and keep you coming back. Which is disgusting. It becomes a time suck. Even myself, who I don’t consider being addicted because I can easily turn it off and walk away, and even though I read and process the information on the sites very quickly, find myself occasionally wondering where the last 20 minutes or so have gone.
  • In that time suck, it prevents people from engaging in reality with each other. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at the playground with my son and seen another parent on their phone for the ENTIRE TIME I was there, texting or screwing around on Facebook. And I try to be understanding, thinking to myself that maybe this is the only time the parent has to do this, etc., but seeing how starved their children usually are for attention and how readily they engage with me as I play with or talk to my son, I doubt this is the case. So we’re able to come up with witty responses online, but unable to meet each other’s eyes in public, let alone open up enough to directly connect.
  • It gives constant information to marketers. Companies are making money off of us, they are then crafting ads to get us to spend money and give them even more information to then sell about us. And we give in willingly.
  • It is creepy. We are all voyeurs, peeking into other people’s windows. Everything from seeing a picture of your friend tagged in someone who you aren’t friends with’s photo to the super creepy timestamp Facebook puts on it’s messaging system (really, I don’t want to know if someone’s seen my message and is taking their time getting back to me – way too stalker-y).
  • It creates a false sense of intimacy. And this is where I feel guilty, because I completely manipulate this aspect of social media to suit my needs and wants. I share intimate details of my daily life at times, fostering that sense of intimacy, but in reality, they are details that don’t really reveal much. Mostly, I do this to keep my family off my case for not seeing them more, I think, but it also has made it strange at times because some people feel closer to me than I do to them. I mean, I adore a lot of people. I enjoy supporting them on their way through life however I can. I see the potential in friends and strangers alike. But the number of people who consider themselves my intimates and the number of people that actually are my intimates is vastly different. And therein lies most of my guilt. I simultaneously draw people in but keep them spinning and dancing so they don’t realize that I’m not revealing my innermost self. Honest to a fault, but still private in the inner tumultuous workings of my brain and heart.

So… conclusions? Social media, like anything else, has the potential to be useful or destructive. It can help us grow or keep us stilted. It is yet another aspect of our daily lives that we have to make a conscious choice about, and that can be such a bummer.

No Net Neutrality?!

Tuesday’s US federal court overruling regarding net neutrality is a big deal, and one that thankfully more people are finally talking about a few days later.  I was honestly a little concerned Tuesday evening that only a few people were talking about it, but it seems like information has been spreading.  But for how long will information be allowed to spread like this?  That’s the slippery slope we stand on at this point.  Whether you’re like me and concerned about the dissemination of information and the possible censorship risk, the social implications (can’t really pull ourselves up by the bootstraps these days without access to decent Internet for job applications, education, etc) as well as the further impossibility for smaller entrepreneurs and innovators to survive (let alone thrive) in a market run by a handful of corporations, or you’re just worried it’s going to cost consumers more to watch porn and silly cat videos, the implications that this ruling has are vast indeed.

I remember back to this amazing infographic by Jason at the Frugal Dad back in 2011.

IllusionofChoice-1More mergers have happened since.  Six corporations control the media at EVERY SINGLE STEP OF THE PROCESS.  Six.  Will they do whatever they can to increase their profits at every step?  Of course.  That’s what they do!  And in their efforts to grab the last penny they can, we see an increasingly homogenized system.  I think they’ll always keep at least two viewpoints (because you need to give people an “other” to be angry about), but you will possibly lose the viewpoints of people in other nations.  That’s where most of the illegal downloading or questionably murky streaming comes back into the States, so why not shut that pipeline down?  There’s no money to be made off it, and in fact, it’s making the companies lose a little money.

There is also this fascinating opinion piece over at Wired about how the FCC may have lost the battle but has gained vast control itself over much of the Internet.  I hadn’t considered it from that point of view, but it’s an interesting one to consider.  Regardless, whether the corporations or the government, this ruling takes power out of the hands of individuals and places it in the hands of an entity.  Do you remember how important the Internet and social media has been in recent years during the protests in Egypt and Tunisia?  And is that a power we should be willing to give away?  I’m not saying that the corporations and/or our government will necessarily abuse the power, but if the past several decades are any indication, chances are at least one person high enough up to do some damage will do so.

Things I Need to do ASAP

  1. Clean up my sites: list all my social networking icons on each site, tweak my bio on the other sites, etc.  And lo and behold Cristian Mihai recently posted this blog on Social Media http://cristianmihai.net/2012/10/26/blogging-and-social-media/#comment-12410 which is a great way for me to get started.
  2. Along with the social networking, I need to talk with the husband about Facebook for all of our various projects.  We have a few fan pages, but since Facebook now charges exorbitant highway robbery prices to reach your entire fan base, that seems a less-than-ideal way to go.  The obvious solution for my Kat Micari stuff would be to just friend everyone who is a fan, but that won’t work for our other page.  And do we then add Google+ or other various social media?  I don’t know, but it’ll be decided by the end of the weekend.
  3. I will start sketching, doing my Morning Pages, writing, playing music, meditating, and exercising every day, starting this Sunday, even if it’s just five minutes of each and even if my Morning Pages don’t happen until 8:30PM, unless my son has made me so exhausted that I need to go straight to bed, in which case I will pick up immediately the following day.  The important thing is to make each of these a habit  (according to research, this will take 21 days).
  4. I need to make serious progress on organizing myself.  The goal is still to finish this by the end of November, and some work has been accomplished, but there is still so much more to go.

I just wanted to get these things down so I can remember them.