intentionality?

I wrote a blog post this morning about confidence and it was gross so I didn’t publish it. Since then I’ve had a fairly lazy day of being on my phone and watching youtube and now my thought process has been hijacked by a crisis about social media—and since none of my friends are responding to my texts on the subject, it’s going here.

A little background here is that my life is going really well right now and I feel like I’m fully actualizing who I’m supposed to be, or I’m at least in the process and in a good frame of mind to do so. From that perspective, I’ve been wanting to write more here and post more on social media (like tumblr or instagram). I think this comes out of an impulse to document the things I’m proud of? Or maybe show off? Or maybe motivate someone else or help them out? For some things I want to have a creative outlet, but for others it’s simply that desire to have a life that looks good from the outside.

The problem I’m having right now is that I’m unsure of my intentionality, I guess. I know I want to make good content, but what for? I feel as though I can’t separate my internet output with the reception it gets. Everyone wants followers and likes and comments; I think there’s a secret desire somewhere to have your fifteen minutes of fame and have people consume what you put out. I don’t want internet fame, but it’s also somehow disheartening to make things and have them go over without any response. Does that come from the idea that a creator needs an audience? Or is it from some vain impulse that comes as a result of the dopamine responses to social media notifications?

Is my outfit less good because nobody liked it on instagram? What’s the true point of my experiences? The experiences or the photos I take of them?

I’m torn between wanting to create more and better content on the internet, to cultivate myself and express that well, and wanting to get offline altogether. Is social media our desperate attempt to leave a mark on the world or is it building a community of people who inspire and encourage one another?

The hard thing is, I know the answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Moderation seems to be the answer to every seeming-dichotomy I experience. I truly want to use this as a platform to start conversations and encourage those who need it, but is that what this whole internet thing is about? I sometimes feel like I’m just looking for validation, but then there have been so many times where watching a video or blog post someone has made talking about something that wasn’t revolutionary but was what I needed to hear at that time. I follow certain people on youtube who just talk about their experiences, and I like to read it. I find it encouraging to be on the other end of it, so there must be some purpose to the thing in itself, but why am I not content to just consume what other people make?

I don’t have the answer, honestly. Let me know what you think—the dynamics of the internet community are weird and I think mostly uncharted.

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2 thoughts on “intentionality?

  1. Great post. I’m happy to hear that you’re doing well. There is a lot of subject matter packed into this post, so I shall address a couple of points. Forgive me if I miss anything.

    I believe that validation and appreciation is something that drives us as a species; whether this need is expressed through ask-assertive behavior, or by consuming other perspectives and experiences. I believe that we do this naturally as a way of constantly checking our progress or lack thereof. This isn’t a result of narcissistic behavior or impulses.

    Speaking for myself, I am generally content to “consume” the work of others. I stopped playing instruments because I enjoy listening more than I ever did creating, and while I enjoy literature, I’m not interested in writing. When it comes to social media, I’m certainly a lurker; I don’t post much, and rarely comment. I don’t believe the lack of response or validation to be a result of disapproval, nor do I think you should consider slowing or ending your presence as a result of this absence.

    There is an age-old question: “if a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?” Absolutely. (I’m drawing a parallel between this and your query regarding creators and lack of audience; I’m merely too lazy to attempt packaging it cleverly. Pardon me.)

    I’ve known you for a long time, and I see your blog posts as both a journey of growth and a place for you to work out what’s in your head. Writing our thoughts is crucial to our well being, especially in this day and age, where life is faster paced than ever before. You’ve got my support, and I wish you all the best.

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  2. Hannah, thanks for the thought-provoking article – I think you put into words the struggle that many people experience (myself included) when using social media: an internal struggle between being more present in our everyday life or to the wider internet community. Perhaps the answer lies in first being intentional with the people immediately and physically around you, and then reaching out into social media. But know this: your articles do have an impact! I love reading your postings because they make me think about things I hadn’t considered, or struggles/successes that many people experience but that are hard to definitively pinpoint and put into words – altogether hopeful and beautiful! keep up the good work! Love you Hannah!

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