Don’t confuse social media with your diary

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Authenticity is the bread and butter of developing an attractive online persona. People relate to users that share bits of their personal lives.

But a lot of people confuse social media with their diary. The viewer cringes at over-admissions of vulnerability. Too much info!

What followers want are real stories, not overly planned content, digital manipulation, sympathy-provoking posts, and canned responses.

“Use your blog to connect. Use it as you. Don’t “network” or “promote.” Just talk.”

Neil Gaiman

The world already has enough actors and curated lives that entertain and inspire. It’s a relief to see people that act off-screen like they do offline.

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Taking an inner evaluation

 

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Photo by Wells Baum

 

We communicate through smartphones incessantly because we can’t stand the thought of talking to ourselves. We reserve all our inner chatter for an outer narrative.  Technology critic Sven Birkerts wrote in his 1994 book The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age:

Everything in contemporary society discourages interiority. More and more of our exchanges take place via circuits, and in their very nature those interactions are such as to keep us hovering in the virtual now, a place away from ourselves.

On top of this, we hire and create our own bots to inflate our ego. The President is perhaps the most guilty of this.

Social media is a chaotic popularity contest where we forfeit authenticity and opt instead for the curated life. We keep our ailments offline, with exception to Google where we always admit our fears. Anyone who shares anything is considered an extrovert by default.

Anyone who shares anything online is viewed as an extrovert by default. In fact, inwardness is the impetus for even more sharing. We replace loneliness with tweets and Instagrams to get others to confirm that we exist.

The second we put the phone away boredom and loneliness strike us hard. The best we can do is embrace these moments to remind what was, a knowledge of self.

 

All the internet’s a stage

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We can all assume that a social media persona is different than that in real life. Writes Jonathan Crossfield in Chief Content Officer Magazine: “Strategy or no strategy, all social media is artifice and spin”

No one is going to post in public what they Google in private. We’d rather tweet about golfing than doing the dishes.

The curated self is an avatar. Celebrities and influencers are no different than you and me: we use social media as a marketing platform.

If social media is edited real life, reality is inauthentic social media. We invent experiences so we can share them. We guide the the mirror to project the best self, even if that piece of content is ephemeral and disappears.

All the world’s an internet stage; as entertainers, we take our authenticity offline.

How status and likability affect your health 

gif via Tony Babel

Popular people live longer.

As social animals, the number of friends predetermines our well-being, all the way down to modifying our DNA.

Loners may pass away sooner, but it’s not a matter of popularity. The number of people we know means nothing if they don’t actually like us back. There’s return on relationships.

Think back to high school: were you amiable or sworn to attention?

The same question applies to our behavior online. It’s rare to have both status — millions of followers — and likability. And the difference between the two is subtle.

Explains UNC psychology professor and author of the forthcoming book Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World:

“Likability is markedly different from status — an ultimately less satisfying form of popularity that reflects visibility, influence, power, and prestige. Status can be quantified by social media followers; likability cannot.”

Trump has thirty million Twitter followers, a majority of which follow him to see what the lightning rod of criticism says next. Both the attention and scorn make him miserable. If you’re looking for happiness in the credibility of numbers, social media may be the wrong game to play.

Happiness is tied to likeability, not our number of followers. If we want to extend our lives, it pays to be both well-known and well-liked. Hint: try to be nice to people, share upfront, and don’t be surprised if they remember your name.

Newsletter: How to stretch out your weekends, why both focus and unfocus are vital, new tunes from Buddy and more

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Man Sitting on a Boat Albertus H. Baldwin (1865–1935) : The MET

Arts and Culture

David Sedaris On The Life-Altering And Mundane Pages Of His Old Diaries

In this interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, American humorist and comedian David Sedaris reflects on the rough diary entries that became his new book Theft by Finding and why he always wanted to be a successful writer.

A lot of people don’t know what they want, or they’re just kind of vague about it. I was never vague. I knew exactly what I wanted. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to get it, but it’s scary … because what if that doesn’t happen?

npr.org

Why Are Doughnut Boxes Pink?

Yesterday was #NationalDonutDay. Here’s the history on donuts in one GIF. But you know those brassy looking pink donut bags at high-end bakeries? It’s a marketing gimmick; a trigger for emotions. It’s no surprise that they’re a product of LA.

“How the pink box has persevered so long may be about more than just dollars and cents. Experts say the color triggers an emotional connection to sweetness that makes doughnuts more irresistible than they already are…Anytime you see a movie or sitcom set in New York and a pink doughnut box appears, you know it obviously took place in L.A.”

latimes.com

Philosophy and Productivity

Your Brain Can Only Take So Much Focus

We try too hard to find the perfect formula behind productivity. What if the brain prefers to multitask, toggling between focus and unfocus?

In keeping with recent research, both focus and unfocus are vital. The brain operates optimally when it toggles between focus and unfocus, allowing you to develop resilience, enhance creativity, and make better decisions too.

hbr.org

The Secret to Making Your Weekends Feel Longer

If you want to stretch time, experience something new on the weekends. Break up the time with simple excursions. For instance, go play your Nintendo Switch in the park rather than from the couch. Read and write somewhere else other than your study desk or favorite cafe.

“According to David Eagleman, professor at Stanford University and the author of The Brain: The Story of You, pursuing new settings, new activities, and new experiences is the best way to “stretch time,” so to speak. It all comes down to what your brain perceives as novel. When you spend time doing something unfamiliar, your brain focuses more on collecting the data associated with the activity, thus creating a more thorough memory of the experience. When you reflect on that memory, it feels like you had more time.”

lifehacker.com

Social Media & Technology

Fuck Facebook

The love-hate relationship with Facebook continues, at least for hardcore bloggers Dave Winer and John Gruber, who explain why Facebook is “all-out attack on the open web.”

Treat Facebook as the private walled garden that it is. If you want something to be publicly accessible, post it to a real blog on any platform that embraces the real web, the open one.

daringfireball.net

More addictive: Fidget spinners or smartphones?

While we’re at it, fuck fidget spinners too. I put together a roundup of some of the best illustrations reflecting the obsession with both widgets.

wellsbaum.blog 

Digging in the Crates

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Compton-based rapper Buddy is back with some beats and rhymes on the 5-track EP entitled Ocean & Montana, a collaboration with Canadian producer Kaytranada.

Listen

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Shugo Tokumaru is a Japanese singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He’s basically a one-man show.

Listen

Quote of the week

“Until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice. At 110, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive.”

Katsushika Hokusai


For more interesting reads and new music, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or the Twitter feed. You can also subscribe to the blogs: wellsbaum.blog and bombtune.comIf you dig the blogs and want to support them, make a donation, buy a book, or email this post to a friend.

Photography and non-intervention

An Assassination
Image © AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

Wrote Susan Sontag in her seminal book On Photography:

Photographing is essentially an act of non-intervention. Part of the horror of such memorable coups of contemporary photojournalism as the pictures of a Vietnamese bonze reaching for the gasoline can, of a Bengali guerrilla in the act of bayoneting a trussed-up collaborator, comes from the awareness of how plausible it has become, in situations where the photographer has the choice between a photograph and a life, to choose the photograph. The person who intervenes cannot record; the person who is recording cannot intervene.

A lot of photographers take heat for capturing their subjects in life-threatening situations. Shouldn’t they be doing something to help the situation rather than documenting its demise?

Photographers are journalists too. Without their pictures, we can’t relive the event. They’re doing their job. The main gripe in most witness photography is with the

The main gripe with most witness photography is with the amafessional, who like any other citizen journalist has a camera phone in their pocket. Except, we see too often prioritize the camera over what should be the human instinct to assist.

This man filmed a fatal car crash instead of helping. Then, Ohio police arrested him.

‘There was no way I could have saved him’: Photographer claims he was too far away to pull ‘doomed’ subway rider off train tracks

Photography can be an act of selfishness, especially when the object is suffering.

To take a picture is to have an interest in things as they are, in the status quo remaining unchanged (at least for as long as it takes to get a “good” picture), to be in complicity with whatever makes a subject interesting, worth photographing —including, when that is the interest, another person’s pain or misfortune.

Social networks compel people to see. People go on vacation just so they can share pictures to their Instagram feed. Any museum that bars photography is somehow instantly boring. Remove Instagram, and the world becomes a lot less interesting for most folks.

The photographer’s role in emergency situations is complicated. When participation is voluntary, the camera offers a way to do something rather than nothing. The viewer’s discretion says a lot about their moral priorities.

 

 

16th century self-promotion

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Before the rise of ownership of mirrors in the 15th century, people mostly identified themselves with others. It was their reflection that made them appears as individuals.

The portable oil canvass in the 16th century accelerated the self-absorbed trend. Self-portraits became the predominant way to flaunt one’s importance and durability. Artists, in particular, were the first to latch on to painting technology to curate their image the way people edit their selfies today.

Modern day photography with software editing tools like Photoshop wishes to make people look better than they actually are, unlike the television which adds five pounds.

Either way, we’re not going to be remembered for how we looked but rather for what we contributed to the world. The work, not the selfie, is what’s going to last.

Einstein: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.”

All images by Wells Baum (NYC)

“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

— Albert Einstein

All images by Wells Baum (DC)

Consider ‘social snacking’

Social media allows for light touches. You can snack on a relationship by sending a friend a text or simple email just to remind them that you still value their relationship.

Even sending a happy birthday message on Facebook can help keep you top of mind.

What makes communication awkward are the long periods of silence in between. Even though people are ambiently aware of each other, they still need to follow up.

A quick text, a like or comment, an email, or better yet, a phone call or handwritten letter, keeps you relevant. Small acts of care help preserve relationships in the long term.

If anything, social smacking helps break the ice when you do meet again face to face.

The great selfie mirage


We’ve gone from frictionless sharing to casual over-sharing to automation to ultimately all drowning in the same looking content in a morass of feeds.

Writes economist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz:

“Americans spend about six times as much of their time cleaning dishes as they do golfing. But there are roughly twice as many tweets reporting golfing as there are tweets reporting doing the dishes.”

We’re more likely to check-in to the Ritz-Carlton on Facebook than the Holiday Inn. We signal to others our better selves, even if it’s half-true, yet hold back on revealing any vulnerabilities. Social media devours the happier, exaggerated stories.

Google is the sole platform that reveals the truth. It “offers digital truth serum.” We type in everything there: our worst fears to the ridiculous and unremarkable.

Furthermore, we should take anyone’s social media profile with a grain of salt. It’s the best version of us. The real anxieties exist in the search bar.

Life on fast-forward

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The internet complicates what it means to be productive. We trap ourselves in email and unlimited social media browsing. We eat lunch at our desks to justify your busyness when “we should go for a walk, to the coffee shop, just to get away. Even Victorian factories had some kind of rest breaks,” says workplace psychologist Michael Guttridge.

Studies repeatedly show the dangers of multitasking and continuous partial attention. By doing more, we’re immersing ourselves less. More than five minutes of Twitter a day won’t make you any better of a Tweeter, observes Seth Godin. Fast-forwarding through movies, podcasts, and books won’t allow you to go deeper into the experience. More information just makes your brain fatter.

In a world of limited attention, it pays to be bored. The brain needs time to switch off, wander, and disconnect from the 24/7 neuron-inducing chemical factory. If everything is meaningful, nothing is worth doing.

Finding Vivian Maier

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gif via Fast Company

The 19th-century French novelist Gustave Flaubert once said to be “be regular and orderly in your life like a Bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Vivian Maier took this to heart. No one ever knew this nanny was an artist of her own.

She took over 100,000 photos, mostly street photographs of downtown Chicago, and kept them for her own viewing, including her selfies. Taking pictures was her happy place, a creative outlet, that allowed her to see the world with a third eye. She wrote with light.

Today, Maier would’ve been an Instagram and VSCO sensation. While she may have resisted social media given her inclination as a loner, she probably would’ve enjoyed connecting with others who shared the same passion. The internet unleashes the weirdness in all of us, motivating us to share our work.

Van Gogh only sold one piece of artwork in his life, to his brother. His posthumous reputation speaks for itself, as does Maier’s.

Don’t let social media use you

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Attention is a gift that the social networks want to steal from you. Here’s a simple trick to ward off their magnetism and catch yourself: put the social apps on the fourth home screen.

That’s right: make it harder to access Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest with just a couple taps. The design hurdle allows the mind to pause before engaging into a sinkhole of distraction and emotional envy.

Take back control of your time and don’t let social media use you. Direct its intention by redirecting your attention. Let the story be about your presence.

The best of the best

IRL
Facebook makes you unhappier because it produces envy. We always want in our feeds what we don’t have in real life: a stable relationship, a high-paying job, a weekend vacation in the Caribbean, a beautiful house, a new car, the latest gadgets–the list goes on.

But social media is edited real life. We tend to over-post happiness and under-post negativity. Who’s going to share about their mental illness, a divorce, or a family death? That’s sad stuff, even if Facebook allows you to respond with a weepy face instead of a thumbs up.

We usually post things that we wish were, not as they are. Social media presents the best of the best, an online Truman Show that excludes the beautiful struggle in between. At the very least, social media is pseudo-news that often omits context.

“There’s always another story,” indeed.

Listen to Hidden Brain: Ep. 68: Schadenfacebook