Social media has morphed into a double-edged sword. On one side, artists and small-business people like myself can inexpensively promote ourselves, share photos of our work with others and promote shows or events that we may be participating in. The other, more jagged side is a melting pot of negativity, narcissism and often times, plain ignorance. I am starting to believe that social media sites should have disclaimers. “DO NOT read the comment feeds from news sites if you don’t want to lose faith in the intelligence of most other human beings…” While I enjoy updates from friends who have moved far away or getting my annual barrage of birthday wishes, I don’t enjoy the “muck” I have to wade through to get to the good stuff. Compulsively posting pictures of what you are eating or making a negative remark following every status post regardless of what it may contain constitute as “muck.” Example….picture of a kitten in an empty Snickers box…I see a fuzzy little kitten in a box after which I promptly laugh and scream, “Cat in a box!” ( I don’t know why cats in boxes and bags humor me the way they do.) Despite its seemingly innocent intentions, this photo and post will incite at least one person to charge the publisher with some offense…”If you feed a cat chocolate, it will die!” Though any rational person will see that there is nothing in the post to suggest anyone fed chocolate to the kitten, someone will comment about it. Another recent phenomenon I have discovered is what I like to call, “Trial by Facebook.” These most often occur on public sites and resemble a modern cyber-lynching. Example… POST: “I hired a man to do my lawn. He left my dog out in the sun and when I came home it was sick.” Comments that follow: “Someone should leave him out the sun to die of heat stroke… Boycott this lawn service… I am telling everyone not to use _____insert lawn service name here____ ever again! …. This guy is an idiot… My cousin’s, neighbor’s, boss’s uncle uses them and says they are crappy…” You get the point. Not one person stops to hear the entire story. The lawn service guy could have been negligent, or not. It could have been a fluke all together. My point is that social media users react viscerally and without thought in regards to way too much. I see comments on photos of people’s homes on public sites that are just downright mean. Social media has brought out a darkness and negativity in society. I am not saying this as a blanket statement because of course there would be commenters seeking to defend themselves as shining examples of social media civility. As with most things in life, there is good and there is bad. There are days when I want to delete the whole thing. If I didn’t use it so much for business I probably would have done it a long time ago. There are ways that you can unfollow, block, restrict, blah, blah, blah… I guess my request to humanity is that we use our ability to connect for good, for positivity. Share your joyous news, tell people you love them, show photos of good times and maybe the occasional cupcake…and as many kitten photos as you please, even if they are in an empty chocolate box.
I told myself when I started art school that I would have a goal. What seems like a hundred years ago, I told myself that I would attend graduate school in London. It loomed on the horizon and seemed to recede into the dark with each step I took toward graduation. There were days and even months where it was forgotten amidst the struggle to keep the bills paid, where Ryan and I would tread water, giving it everything we had to keep our heads above the surface. I stole whatever knowledge I could from other artists I met. I worked on myself, my art, my attitude. I worked two jobs, 7 days a week. I had ankle surgery. I graduated. I started my own business and completed several public art installations. All the while, she waited patiently, my goal, my muse, my London. Someone very close to me told me once that the first time she saw me ,only a few minutes in this world, she knew I was destined to lead an extraordinary life. Extraordinary lives require extraordinary leaps. There have been times when baby steps were all I could muster but now, I believe, is a fantastic time for a great, big LEAP! I know I have written before that one of my greatest fears in regret. I believe that regret is bred out of fear and the inability and unwillingness to live the life that you know you deserve. That being said, I accepted a position in the Master of Fine Arts program at a university in London. Five years after I decided to stop fighting what and who I am, my goal steps out from the darkness saying, “Hey, you better jump on getting that VISA, they don’t overnight those things.”