Updated: Jun 8
After several days of promoting our May Art Crawl gallery reception, I came into the store the morning of the event. I said something I often say to Lizzie "I have the best idea," followed by, "I think we should be a social media-free business."
Lizzie agreed, and then I did what I usually do next when I think I have a bright idea. "I'm going to see if the URL is available." And as it turns out, socialmediafreebusines.com was available, and it was only 0.1 cent for one year. That's how good of an idea it was NOT to start a social media-free business, but I wasn't ready to accept that. A few minutes later, my concept grew even bolder; " this will be a movement," I said.
We announced our news to a few friends that evening at the art crawl, and they gave us that pretending to agree with us nod. One friend said, "I think you will need an Instagram account to start a social media free business movement." Whatever doubters!!!!
And then I became a doubter, and I broke the news to Lizzie, and she was disappointed. The learning curve is steep, and working so hard on every new feature Instagram puts out there is overwhelming. What I needed was some distance from social media.
I have a complex relationship with social media.
Several years ago, I was on Facebook frequently. I was posting pictures, reconnecting with friends, spying on old boyfriends, writing happy birthday messages, etc.; then, a few weeks after my husband died in December of 2015, my relationship with Facebook became more serious.
One evening I was at dinner with friends. Something came up in conversation that reminded me of fishing in the sewer behind my house with a homemade fishing stick. My older sister told me stories about magic dolphins and a toy store that lived beneath the sewer, and I was young enough to believe this might be true.
I only was a writer of the occasional rehearsal dinner speech, but when a friend at the table suggested I write about this, it must have sparked something in me because I decided to go for it. The fishing in the sewer was a good segue because I was six when I lost my dad and made my first fishing pole, and so it felt like a time I could write about both of these huge losses, and this is where, as I said above, things with me and Facebook got real.
I decided to post the first blog I wrote and had no idea if I would write more or if people would even read it. As it turns out, people did read it, and the comments they wrote kept me writing and going. My grief felt so much less lonely sharing it with others. I continued to write and post on repeat for over a year and a half. My days were eating, sleeping, taking care of my kids, and writing non-stop in-between. It was hard to pull myself away from it. I became a writer for a moment in time.
Then my relationship with Facebook was about to take another turn. I was hitting the two-year mark of losing my husband, and I began to worry my grief had an expiration date. I became self-conscious and tried to find a different voice that was more upbeat, more like what I thought the world expected when you lose a loved one two years down the road, but that was not my experience, so as suddenly as I started writing, I stopped.
Not one single person contributed to this decision. It was all me, in my head. I convinced myself to run fast and far, and ever since, social media has been a game of hot potato for me. I am on and then off as quickly as possible. I am afraid of it. Scared everyone looks happier, or has more friends, or is more successful. I am worried about fewer likes and comments because I still am figuring out who I am after losing my husband, and I don't know if I am a person everyone likes anymore.
We hired someone once briefly to do social media for us, but it did not feel right. Despite my ups and downs with social media, I have fun doing it for Art Beat most of the time, and it felt odd to be on a tight budget paying for something that I could easily do and, in a way, really wanted to do.
So after a break, we are hitting re-set, and part of hitting re-set for me is being honest that this is hard for me. The truth has such a way of casting out the cobwebs that get in our path. I feel inspired by the courage I see in artists, especially the ones that don't consider themselves artists yet, but they show us their work anyway. I know what it feels like to love to create but not to feel worthy of a title, such as a writer or an artist, and to be afraid of the criticism that sometimes comes with being vulnerable.
Art in all forms is about taking a risk. I believe if moved to create, we should do it, and fear is not a reason to stop. I love to create with words, so this part of my role at Art Beat gives me a chance to try it again at my own pace. The blank canvas waits patiently for us until we are ready.
CAN WE BE YOUR FAVORITE? Instagram recently added a new feature, and one way you can send BIG LOVE our way is to click on the three buttons to the right of our Art Beat account on Instagram and add us a favorite. Without paying big bucks for ads, this will help us show up in your feed.
Love Big by Nashville Folk Artist, Bebo