I have come to this discussion many times, with many of my virtual/internet friends. That is the idea of the “fine line.” The line between wanting to be a social human being and the need to re-charge and get away from the internet socializing. I believe this is why “breaks” or hiatus’ matter, whether we announce them or not. (Mine have become so frequent that I don’t really care anymore. If I need time to detox I shouldn’t have to tell everyone all the time I need that time to recharge, and I don’t think the normal human thinks that either.)
More and more, to connect to both the wider world, and the social one, we forgo the need for privacy, the need for time away from these things. Or rather, the time I think we should take away from the screens in our lives. Now, if I was reading this I wouldn’t need much convincing as I am, by nature, someone who prefers to be alone, to not interact on a large scale. This is often the nature of introverts, of any level on the scale, and even for extroverts, there is, at times, the need to de-charge oneself to grow more excited for the next social gathering. Both types of people add a wholeness to life.
More and more we talk about how we’re all introverts, as though shaming extroverts that they can’t have authentic, intellectual interactions, or that they are somehow inferior because they don’t naturally crave dark caves, Mr. Rochester brooding times, or moonlight to thrive. (I might like moonlight but I don’t like being in caves–they’re dank and often I feel like I’m in the perfect place to be murdered.) This isn’t to say, on the flip side, that being an introvert is bad, or that somehow we have to stop saying we are one, even if we are. But rather, I think we need to allow acknowledgement that human beings, often naturally, crave a mixture of the social and the solitude. People might be inclined to want to sway more one way or another, sometimes to unhealthy lengths, but in the end, we all want to laugh with others, seek out otherness, as well as fuel ourselves with self-reflection, or the need for time away from our fellow man to better interact with them the next time.
This long-winded diversion is to return, at length, to my point–that as an artist on social media, we often feel we don’t deserve time off. That we aren’t allowed to be inaccessible to the wider world. That somehow, we must always be at the beck and call of our followers and audience. But I believe this to be the greater downfall of many peoples who, nowadays, gain income or at least recognition through more virtual spaces.
It is not a new concept in the scheme of human existence, to balance our social interactions with our intimate ones. To be alone allows for unhindered thought, for the often creative soul in all of us to thrive, because no matter the messages we wish to propel, the creative act, the act of mark-making, of bringing something into being in the art or creative field is a personal, often, singular experience. I believe this to be so because we are always (that I have gathered) genuinely ourselves when we have no one to consider as an audience to preform before. When we are truly alone we are at our greatest advantage to think deeply, without distractions, to live intimately with ourselves and to learn to know ourselves.
The more able you are to know yourself the more rewarding your social interactions become. Why? Because you understand what and who you are and can better serve those around you, be that for fun and festivities or for more intimate interactions both intellectually and physically. When you know yourself and wish to better yourself in the singular you can better acknowledge, confront, and engage with the world in the plural.
So why is there this stigma that can often be detrimental to our creative peoples? Why is there this need to cater to everyone, at all times? If you do not expect this, at least I hope, in your “real life” interactions, why in God’s green earth would you expect it virtually, to other real, breathing human beings? What makes someone think it is only okay for some people to have this healthy balance but not everyone? It is because you might, heaven forbid, “miss” content from people you love in their creative field?
Let me say right now that I think it is wonderful that people wish to engage with artists, creators, and others in a way that is real and authentic. That is my whole argument in most of the things I post or talk about! To crave the real not the virtual or, better put, artificial. And I believe this very need ties back into the greater, wider picture–that we, as human beings, crave face-to-face interaction because that is where the fulfillment of all other interactions comes forth–when we can personally engage another soul. Touch another soul. Hear another soul without barriers. That need is healthy and good, but can be misconstrued in the virtual setting quite quickly. It can become, in rapid fashion, an obsessive, unhealthy behavior. And for many creatives who want to be around their followers, to socialize, and talk to them–the very audience that gave them their standings to begin with, it can be very hard to reject that interaction, or to wish to separate ourselves from it for a moment, as we feel we have let them down.
But here’s the thing–we haven’t. You haven’t. Taking time away from social media is, in itself, a way to disengage with your peers and to return to time alone and away. Because here is where it becomes a beautiful thing–you get time to better yourself, to engage with the world once more, to sit with yourself, or others, and to gain new perspectives, deeper roots, or the simple need to breathe in and out. For when one returns again to social media, they are even greater than they were before, they are even more than you thought could be possible, because they have been given time to grow independently away from the crowds.
Allow time for those in social media to be apart from you, from your audience, or even from all those great internet friends who have also allowed you to grow. This isn’t to say, for those who might bring this up, that growth and learning cannot come in a group, or from another soul, but it is to say that we are more than a social being, and we should let our soul grow as much as our body. That we should foster good thinking, independent, self-reflective thinking, not just group-thinking, or social thinking is paramount to a rounded individual.
As someone who is deeply introverted, this might be something one hears all the time. People who are extroverts might also hear this a lot from their introverted friends. But here is permission, my extroverted friends, to allow yourself the same time, be it for five minutes or days, to disengage, to be ready for the next great adventure. We are all people. All human beings that need time to refresh ourselves, in different, meaningful ways.
Let us let our creators and artistic people the same liberties. So the next time they don’t respond ASAP to your tweet or message, let them have their time away and be gladdened even more when they return refreshed and clear-headed because I can guarantee your interaction will be even better than before. Or, moreover, if your favorite artist or creator deems there are boundaries to which virtual friends cannot cross–allow them that. Just as you don’t want to always share everything with everybody, artists and creators don’t always want to share twenty-four seven of their lives with you.
And yes, this post is filled with exceptions, and acknowledgements that sometimes pushing people to do things they aren’t always comfortable with can be a good thing. But on the whole–I think we need to allow our creatives time and permission to exist away from us.