article, writing

Social Media Kills Creativity

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Here’s a controversial topic for your Monday.

I contend that social media hurts creativity. Change my mind.

Yes, I understand the irony of writing a blog post about this topic, if you consider WordPress a social media platform.

I thought about this while browsing my Instagram feed over the weekend, scrolling through endless photos of vintage book covers and pictures of author’s laptops exposing their word-count related victories. I feel like the modern writer (hobbyist or professional) needs to be more wary of the negative impacts of social media.

One of the earliest (and best) pieces of writing advice I ever got was “don’t talk about your work until it is finished”. Meaning, complete drafts and only show them to a select few trusted peers like an editor or critique group until they are ready for a wider audience. Social media and the incessant chirping from marketers about “building a platform” run totally counter to this.

Social media is all about instant gratification, and a feedback loop of exposure for quick responses. Alex Posen wrote a great piece about this on The Creative Hours, and I am buying what he is selling. Ideas need time to gestate and change without outside interference. I see so many “aspiring authors” posting raw first drafts on social media and I just want to scream “STOP!”. It may feel nice to show people your accomplishments, but it’s a trap. As soon as you invite a wider audience into that process, it becomes compromised. I don’t feel like that intrusion is worth a few “Likes” or the occasional comment.

My other, more curmudgeon-y, reason is simply a matter of the strange, nearly universal narcissism that social media has spawned among creative-types. Yeah, the irony alarm is about to sound again, but I had to say it. Most people (myself included) are just out here having fun tossing our thoughts and words into digital space. Very few authors are gaining a regular new readership and selling large numbers of books via social media. The ones who do have usually found success via other channels already. For every one success story there are millions of people posting about how they just can’t find the time to finish (or start) that 1st draft.

This isn’t to say social media is all bad. I love spending a few minutes each week interacting with this community, or looking at old horror movie VHS artwork on Instagram. The takeaway is you need to be vigilant and selfish with your creative hours, and realize these platforms are time-sinks BY DESIGN. Don’t let them compromise your creative process. As J.T. Ellison puts it, “don’t let social media kill your creative spirit”.

What is your take on social media? Do you feel like it stifles your creativity, or is it something you couldn’t possibly live without? Let me know down in the comments.

10 thoughts on “Social Media Kills Creativity”

  1. Yes, social media is a tool that can cut both ways, with a bias perhaps in the negative direction. I don’t create much outside of posting but I’d like to so perhaps I’ll consider your points here. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d have to disagree only because I think if your truly ready to write, you’ll write. If your distracted by something, I think your putting off writing for a reason, and any distraction will do.

    But I do agree with not posting a first draft. Finish first!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a fair argument. I will contend that gives a very convenient (and deep) rabbit hole for those already-distracted folks to dive down though. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t read JT Ellison’s post so can only comment on the line you used and it sounds like the old ‘bad worker blaming his tools’ to me. Social media is merely a tool YOU (the collective you, not you personally!) are responsible for how you use it.
    Totally agree with your summation about finding success first on other channels and yet the time it takes for folks to complain in a post that they can’t finish that first draft they could be killing it with their marketing until the creative juices return.
    For every person that ‘never has the time’ I guarantee you they can tell you what they had time to watch on TV last night. If I had not read the start up stories of people like Darren Rowse I might also be inclined to fall for those excuses.
    FYI: For those not aware of Rowse he worked a couple of jobs, came home helped put the kids to bed and worked to the wee small hours building his blog. It’s all possible. Be influenced by the workers not the shirkers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and the great comments. You’re spot on that the articles I referenced definitely imply that people have little self-control or personal responsibility over their social media use. It is like anything else a tool that can be used (or abused) to meet specific ends. This story about Darren Rowse was also really inspirational.


  4. I like the sharing aspect as it helps me to feel more connected but as for the creative process itself, quite frankly social media distracts me from it. Personally though I do think that the instant online sharing allows your voice to be heard and I feel ok that this may not be the perfect or best version – at least it is cathartic and real. I enjoyed reading your post and feel you make some really good points.

    Liked by 1 person

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