The Struggle to Participate in Social Media


#1

It’s been some time since I’ve participated on this forum. The last time I was really posting was back during the summer, in July, when I was helping run the Unofficial Waypoint Game Jam - New Jam City. Something I hope to participate in again this year. But in the time since then my situation has changed. Never to such a degree that it really warranted leaving the forum.

The simple fact is that I struggle with all social media. I struggle to stay on them because while I want to have conversations with people, the distance, the time issues and just the sheer number of conversations going on at the same time makes it hard to do so. Plus I’m just lazy.

Why would I get online to talk to people when I could sit and talk to the Wife or mumble incoherent nothings to my kid? My time with them is limited to a few hours a day because of work, daycare, etc. So why trade that for the anonymity of the web? At the same time I know social media, and places like this forum, are where I can discuss things I’m interested in and that my daughter doesn’t have the ability to comprehend (yet). She is only one.

And I know I need to use social media, for my career, to stay in touch with friends and family. But it continues to seem so impersonal. Or I’m at such a remove from everything, social media makes it only seem more so. And it’s not just this forum I struggle to return to, it’s the same for the Idle Thumbs & Games with Jobs forums. But as I’ve gone about the world I continue to move away from people even as technology has made staying in touch easier and easier. But I don’t. I just don’t write to anyone, or reach out to them.

Because I’m lazy. Because I think my time is better spent. Because I ask myself why aren’t they contacting me.

I’m a creator, and as such I want to come here and share my work, knowing full well you’ll appreciate it and provide much needed feedback. But at the same time I don’t want to stay around and do the same for others, because that’s taking time from my own creations. It’s selfish. Yet I justify to myself that I need to reduce my consumption of media, because I need to focus on creating.

These are just some of the thoughts I’ve been having as I struggle to return to this forum and actually participate and hold conversations with others. So I guess the question is, what keeps you returning and participating?


#2

This is something I feel. In fact I had even thought to make a similar thread a few weeks back.

It’s not so much that it’s impersonal for me. It’s just that I don’t have the time to keep track of it all. Between Twitter, Facebook, discord, forums, meet ups, twitch, etc. It’s just overwhelming and so time consuming.

When I was a teenager I would spend my entire night listening to music and posting on forums or in chatrooms. But I just can’t really see myself doing that now without feeling like I wasted the evening, even if what I would normally do is just watch something on YouTube.

I suspect it’s just what getting older looks like these days.


#3

What I don’t think helps is how much social media is tied to work these days, while remaining personal. I want a clear delineation between work and my personal life. Maybe I’m just old in that way. But I do see good cause for separating such things in terms of self-care, mental health and simply being able to absorb something new that could improve my work and my life.

The real difficult thing being a creator and one in an odd time zone is that the conversations I want to take part in are happening at hours that infringe on my personal life. Plus as you say @D_W there’s always something to watch.


#4

yes, definitely! Timezones can be a nightmare to deal. Even if you’re just looking for people to play a game with, especially with tabletop games.

Also as a creator, the hardest thing I find is getting people to engage with the stuff I post about my creations. Yeah, I get the reason for “don’t just self promote” that a lot of places on the internet have, but it can be so hard to judge if being active in a community will be “worth it” when promoting your stuff, even if the community is otherwise pretty good.

Example! I used make time to make Let’s Plays and general game videos. When I first started I would post my stuff on Reddit and it was abysmal. Maybe 4 views here, 10 views there. Eventually I decided to check out Something Awful’s LP community, as it was the largest and incredibly active. After getting over the initial shitty gatekeeping (which, while involving literally saying stuff like “delete your videos” , eventually lead to me making much better videos), I found myself getting 500+ views. No where near the big folks, but way more than anything I had before.
I’ve since moved away from that community and now get watch most of my LP stuff on Twitch or in LP.zone.

My game making is similar. I found that unless your game has really striking visuals, it can be hard to get your game out in front of people no matter where you post it. I tired so hard to get my little game out there. Buying facebook ads (I cannot recommend this!!), using hashtags, posting about it in the massive feedback threads on reddit, showcasing it at a local expo, emailing out keys, etc.
The thing that I saw the most upticks from was when I reached out to Heather Alexander over at Kotaku when she asked for links to small games. I didn’t think much of it. Just shot her a DM with a link. Then a few weeks later she had made a short video and posted an article. Now my game finally cleared the 100 minimum payout on Steam and has made a combined total of just under 180 bucks between steam and Itch. A moral success for me, a hobbyist, but I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone who thinks to make a life from it. Hell, I probably spent more than that promoting the game.

HOWEVER! I can’t imagine it would have been easier in any other era to be honest. In fact, it’s kinda just business and marketing as usual. It’s just tough out there for creatives.


#5

Engagement is an interesting thing, because you have to do it on two levels - 1) sell your project to the audience and 2) the actual project. Both have some shared skills but I find myself wanting to focus on the second. Because, like so many before me, I want the work to speak for itself. Yet how much does it really do that anymore in the age of social media?

Waypoint in particular is examining more than just the works but the creators as well, and so are many others. So it’s not like we can just put something out in the world and expect others to find it, enjoy it and understand it.

What’s interesting as a small creator is how there’s the expectation/need that we always be around participating in the conversation to get our stuff out there. Where as more well known people or studios can go into silent mode as the prepare their next work. Of course that doesn’t work for all organizations, because the type of work you’re doing varies.

Work aside, I don’t know if I get that much personally from social media. I’ve gotten annoyed in the past when I ask friends how they’re doing and what they’re up to and their response is to say, “check Facebook.” The impersonal nature of how we’re posting our lives but not participating in others is really off putting. Thank the gods my daughter destroyed my smartphone. Now I’m back to using a Nokia 3310 (new version) which is surprisingly durable, but it also means I’m not checking social media constantly and feeling that distance.

That said, because I don’t have access to it means I’m not participating… or really having the opportunity to. As with everything it’s a double-edged sword.

PS @D_W can you send me a link to your game and videos?


#6

My biggest barrier to social media stuff is that after years of being consistently shit at communicating my views, and often just being straight up wrong because I’m slow as hell, posting even the most innocuous shit feels like submitting myself to The Inquisition. I barely trust my own thoughts on anything for ages. By the time I can feel confident in my stance the conversation’s moved on and I’ve just sat there staring, occasionally nodding at a Good Post™. It sucks, I wanna talk about stuff, but I don’t feel like I’m ever qualified to chime in on anything.


#7

This, to me, is the biggest problem. I don’t really have a lot of friends who are that into either metal or game critique, so I always look for more people to follow / work with and maybe get interested in my stuff. But like you say, most people enjoy the attention, but there’s rarely any reciprocity. I still engage with smaller creators because I genuinely care about good people getting more attention, but it can get very frustrating when it’s so one-sided.


#8

Finding those you match with is hard whether it’s online, in gaming groups, writing circles, etc. Not only do we need to fit in terms of personalities but we have to like the others’ work. What I think doesn’t help is how we come into these interactions with a transactional mindset. We don’t approach friends or people we think could become friends with the idea that there’s going to be a one-to-one exchange - I give you feedback and you give me feedback.

But how can we not approach things in that way when we want to share our work? It’s almost as if social media has made us regress to Kindergarten where all we want to do is show someone our finger paintings.


#9

I definitely relate to that idea of “I don’t have anything much to contribute to the conversation, so why bother?” But even lurking a forum or just liking/retweeting can be… a lot? i

@OneGameDad My game is called Void Wisp, and maybe I"ll make a thread about my gaming channel some time later if I ever get back to posting stuff there regularly.
What’s your stuff? :slight_smile:


#10

I’ve actually been struggling with the use of social media as a creator for the past couple of weeks, so this is such an appropriate topic for me.

I’m someone who works in the film/television industry. While I have worked on major things (that I can’t say yet yay NDAs), I do think that it’s so hard to find a way to showcase your work to the public by using social media. I run a podcast with a few friends who are also in the industry. We go out and shoot commercials/music videos/skits for ourselves and for others. We do get paid, it’s rad, but the podcast is my little baby. I want to see it succeed. I don’t know how to use social media correctly to promote the existence of it without feeling like I’m shoving it down people’s throats. I don’t want to focus on just my stuff either. I feel selfish if I come here to just talk about me. I listen/watch/read what you guys make because it’s SO COOL.

It’s hard to have a conversation on Twitter when your mind is either focusing on the next shoot, the next gig, the next podcast, the next whatever. It’s hard to post something on Instagram when you’re busy editing/writing something. I haven’t even touched Facebook this year. I’m like 3 weeks away from deleting my Snapchat because I just don’t find it appealing anymore.

I think balancing every little social media thing is hard. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m getting older or that I’m focused on my career and want to make every social media post count. I think that you have a really good topic here, OneGameDad.


#11

I love the act of creation so much. Everytime I make something, regardless of whether I put it out into the world, it makes me want to get on with the next thing. But at the same time there’s the idea that I need to be promoting myself, participating in the community (finding my tribe - hate that idea but that’s another post), consuming and analyzing other media, learning new skills, etc.

Some of that I can put into my next creation. But, and this will be a really crass phrase, the return on investment of participating in social media is so low if not negative at times that I struggle to justify it. Not only can it be taxing emotional but take time from creating stuff (and I’m not even a marginalized person). If it’s viewed in terms of a game then the core loop isn’t fun. So I find myself wondering what’s the point.

@OkamiGotFuzz since you’re already in a creative industry do you feel as much of a need to publicize your personal projects? What’s your podcast? I’ve just shifted to focusing on my creative work and that’s where all this is stemming from. Career-wise I need to get my stuff out there but personally I just want to work, with work being the creating bit not the marketing bit.

@D_W To your question, I just launched a new podcast/YouTube series called The Writing Game. It’s about how the rules of writing, storytelling and game design can work in conjunction with one another to make more cohesive and interesting projects.

All of this makes me wonder, since those replying have been older (whatever that means), are you more concern with being concise or brevity in your work? Or have you approached a different attitude towards it? Personally, I find what I’m both consuming and creating I want to be concise without needless fluff. At the same time, I don’t want to obsess too much over it and just want to get stuff out there so I can move onto the next idea. It’s a weird dynamic but one I find works for me… save when it comes to social media.


#12

I feel like I do. I want to be known more than what I do in the industry, but it’s hard because I don’t want to advertise myself. It’s hard because to get more work, I have to advertise myself hahah. My podcast is called The Porcelain Pigeoncast. I’m linking the website but it’s on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher. I want to make it a source of income but it’s hard when no one really knows about it.

I say focus on your work. That’s what I kind of did before I started to get into this industry. I find letting the work do the talk but you still have to eventually show it off and advertise it. It’s a really hard balance.


#13

I think in a lot of ways, social media is performative, and in that sense it is truly impossible to always “wear that mask” that your following expects from you. Different platforms have different contexts and therefore different expectations, but you’re always going to be playing this game of human connection by someone else’s rules.

It can be so toxic, honestly. Say you made some friends and genuine connections by shitposting about depression/anxiety. At first, those posts might have been a coping mechanism, but if that’s what your following expects from you, it might make you seem like someone else if you’re able to develop some control over those demons and then don’t feel the need to post those things anymore. But it’s only natural to want to belong, and it’s only natural to actually care about the people you interact with. You can fall into a trap of your own making so easily.

To me, at least, what it comes down to is just engaging wherever I’m comfortable with engaging. If I’m not feeling comfortable anywhere for a day, or a week, or whatever, then I just don’t engage. I haven’t felt the need yet to disengage for long stretches of time, but even if I did, I don’t think that would be a bad thing. Taking care of yourself is always going to be more important than whatever information you can convey in 280 characters, or a forum post, or whatever.

Also, since nobody’s brought it up yet: Danika actually does a podcast on this exact topic that is extremely good!


#14

I’m gonna say I spent 3 hours writing and rewriting a post about how impossibly hard social media of all kinds is for me to use as someone not established connection on any platform and a whole lot of trauma around social interaction and leave it at that.


#15

Social media typically makes me feel isolated and alone. It feels like everyone else has friends and I don’t.


#16

outside of a couple messageboards i’m completely severed from social media. it feels good. used to waste a lot of time on facebook, never got into twitter, and i’m glad.

i’m glad i don’t have to use it for my job. patrick’s recent article about mini-celebrity-twittering made it sound kinda lame and exhausting, to be honest.

it is weird, i suppose, the feeling that the majority of communication in the world is now happening in a place where i don’t exist. there’s a giant, near-infinite river of text and talk that i just don’t hear, and won’t hear. being a part of “The Conversation” just isn’t worth it to me in terms of time. what i put in, my most valuable resource (time) vs. what i get out (reading the thoughts of a bunch of people i don’t really know). this is one of the biggest time-sinks mankind has ever seen. i understand why it’s popular, but, damn…


#17

Social media is something none of us can really escape. No matter your personal relationship with it, it is out there :alien:and it makes a difference.
I work for a company that resells digital marketing services, so I work a little with social media professionally.
For real, don’t expect yourself to be able to use social media to promote and sell yourself unless you’re a savant. There’s a reason it’s a full time job most places. You’re jumping into a crowded pond:frog: and it’s not enough to be authentic. If you want big returns on social media, you need to incorporate it into a larger marketing strategy which is usually supported by SEO, content creation, and web design.
Ironically, none of that will get you ANYWHERE if you aren’t authentic, and you can’t come across like a company.
So you have to simultaneously be a friendly, approachable face who completes an inhuman amount of work.
So don’t get discouraged if you haven’t had good experiences in the past. Seeing an immediate response to your social media efforts isn’t the goal.
My advice to any creators is: Focus on using it for personal reasons.
Could be any reason, and on any platform. I mostly use social media to keep up with friends, which for me means Facebook and Fetlife :flushed:. I was job hunting a lot recently, so I had to get good with LinkedIn. Wherever your crowd is, go there. Figure out who you want to interact with and then interact with them. One message is worth 100 likes, so focus on quality over quantity. If you find that your natural interaction with social media is “not at all,” then that’s fine.
If you want to transition to the professional social media level, or if you want to better integrate it with your personal life, start by defining what you want out of it. That alone starts you down the right path.:selfie:
Everybody reading this is already doing this to some extent, since you’re lurking on a forum right now. So we’re all at least pretty good with social media.


#18

Thanks @JackLeveledUp for the suggestion of Dannika’s podcast. Didn’t know she had one on that topic. Good to know.

Everyone keeps mentioning Discord, and while I’ve been invited to participate on a couple of servers I’ve always turned it down. Just like I have adding any additional social media accounts. As is I barely touch Instagram and have never touched SnapChat. What’s the appeal of Discord? What’s it doing that other platforms aren’t?

Again it seems like the kind of thing where I could be either talking to the Wife and Kid or to others online. And I’m always going to default to those at home. Not just out of laziness or love… well maybe.


#19

Hi,

I’ve been off Facebook for some time now b/c it was seriously taking a toll on my mental health, so I can certainly relate. I’ve heard this from a number of people, but I still think it rings pretty true: social media acts as a highlight reel for the lives of many others, and one byproduct of that is (for me, at least) a constant feeling of inadequacy - like I’m not achieving all I should be achieving, or that I’m somehow wasting time I could be spent living a fuller life.

More than anything, social media enables and encourages the quantification of experience in a way that other forms of media don’t. In a sense, the “like/react” system is built to encourage users to compare themselves to others, and provides users with metrics to do so “objectively.” I found that system really detrimental to my health personally, and I know a lot of other folks have struggled with similar effects from social media on their self-esteem.

I consider sites like Waypoint as fairly separate from that, as the people I’m involved in discussion with on here I don’t have the same sort of personal connections with as I do on other services. Here, my issue is more with not feeling adequately equipped or able to contribute substantially to a thread, or feeling overwhelmed by the amount of material I have to catch up on in order to contribute some bare minimum to a topic.


#20

Gigantic discords are honestly no better, if not are worse than other social media in terms of giving me anxiety. I can’t go to the Waypoint discord. Just can’t. Too many people, too fast paced.

However, I have a tiny discord with I think about 10 of my online friends plus some IRL ones on it and it’s honestly great. My shelter in the online world. Everyone knows and understands each other so it becomes a bit like a high tech AOL group chat.

But I don’t have a wife or kids soooo my social aspects/“responsibilities” differ in that regard.