Marketing and The Frittering Away of My Attention
Image: Design for the Set of the Ballet 'Narcisse', premiered at the Théâtre de Monte Carlo, 1911 via the Met Online Access.
I know that this is a well-worn subject on the internet, but I have seen first-hand how social media and online reading has damaged my attention span, motivation, and interactions with family.
Something like two years ago I uninstalled Facebook from my phone. I realized that it was making me more unhappy, narcissistic, and likely to engage in unproductive habits. Mostly I would just see people's behavior on Facebook and become either jealous, self-righteous, or demoralized. Even though I looked down on people who craved validation, I also craved it. Rather than deleting my account which I use to interactive with family, I just removed it from my phone. It worked pretty well for a long time. My other addiction turned out to be looking at the news on my phone, which I gave up for Lent this year. That was helpful in reducing the amount of rage I felt on a daily basis, but then, of course, I went back to it after Easter.
However, now I'm working as an independent contractor. The onus is on me in order to make sure that I have enough work to stay employed and pay for daycare. Obviously, I'm not going to do any sort of traditional form of advertising, so instead I must use social media. This prompted me to sign up for Twitter (rumor has it everyone in the museum industry is big on Twitter) and to refresh everything I had done on LinkedIn. I had been wary of Twitter for a long time because of the stories of rage mobs, death threats, and flagrant narcissism, but I need to be employed... sooo... in I went. I decided to sign up just a few days before going on a week-long vacation back to my home town. I had a standing policy to keep addictive social media and games off of my phone, but how could I just sign up for Twitter, tweet twice, and then disappear for a week? How would I market myself?? So I downloaded the app and used up most of my monthly data while on vacation.
Like most millenials, I am addicted to my phone. Even in spending time with family, I see people compulsively checking their phones. My husband and I sit out on our back porch and look at our phones together. I'm not proud of it. It's frustrating to see that in our interactions, and I'm frustrated that it is interfering with my ability to work. But how will I break out of it? My company is myself, and therefore I must market myself. I need to be active. How will anyone ever hire me to do work if they don't know I exist? All of my jobs so far have been through people that I know in real life, but I can't count on those types of jobs to keep coming forever.
The other issue is with creating a portfolio. The times that I have between jobs are critical for picking up new skills and staying current. For example, I am very interested in becoming proficient in d3.js. The types of things people create with it are phenomenal - interactive, informative, and often beautiful. Everything that I aspire to create. Now is the time that I should be going through every tutorial on the planet, but I find myself addicted to clicking through everything. Even writing this article has been difficult because I find myself itching to poke through my news feed.
So was there a point to all of this? Frankly, I'm not too sure. After finding myself checking Twitter rather than watching my kids, I uninstalled that and LinkedIn from my phone as well. I am still learning to walk the fine lines between marketing myself and becoming narcissistic, between staying relevant on social media and being addicted, and between being a content creator and a content consumer. The solution likely will come down to some combination of self-control and time management, and hopefully I'll be able to expound on that when I figure it all out.