Monday, 20 April 2015

Love your Blog Week 3: Social media - the good, the bad and the ugly



In the creative industry as in all walks of life, there is a tendency to focus overwhelmingly on the positive and to ignore or minimise the negative, the less-than-perfect or the ugly.
In general this is usually the best policy - as my mother used to say "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". However this can lead to what is known in the scientific community as publication bias. Results of pharmaceutical clinical trials which show a positive outcome are far more likely to be published than those which don't.

In the same way, we are all far more likely to document our successful projects on Ravelry and show them on Instagram, than we are to show photos of that sweater with the wonky sleeve that was relegated to the back of the cupboard.

In general, we are far more likely to show only the good, the beautiful and the perfect. Recently a well known Instagrammer made this point and published a series of photos showing her 'everyday' after someone made the comment that she had a 'beautiful life' Her thoughtful response was that, of her normal day the part she shared via social media comprised  approximately 2% - and that was on a good day.

Whilst entirely understandable, this type of self-censorship has the potential to cause anxiety or negative thinking amongst users of social media. Any feelings of self-doubt or tendency to over-critical thinking can be made worse by an endless parade of 'lovely' photographs. As a new parent I remember distinctly feeling overwhelmed by seeing a good friend post pictures she took of baking cookies with her toddler - all happy smiles and clean faces. When I tried the same it ended in tears, tantrums and flour-covered cat.

Now, I'm not for one minute suggesting that we all start to broadcast our 'Ugly' but when using social media it is well worth bearing in mind that you are seeing carefully editing highlights of someones life, or work or craft. And, as beautiful and inspirational as it is, it is part of a bigger, messier, imperfect whole.

And for the record, and in the spirit of scientific interest - this is the product of a week's worth of data gathered on my 'normal' day.


 

 For lots more thoughts on Ugly and it's meaning in our creative context, please see the fabulous A Playful Day, whose brainchild this 'Love Your Blog' series is. Her post on this weeks theme is fabulous and well worth a read.