Advice to a Millennial Creative: Surviving Social Media and Other Millennials

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The more creative, the more vulnerable. / Artwork by Lesley Oldaker, ‘Shop till you drop’, globalizationicas.com

To be young is a sin in this world. To be innovative and creative is deadening. To push the boundaries of what can be accomplished with modern technology is frowned upon. The generation that came before see passed opportunities in the eyes of their children, and blame them for not seizing it when they had the chance. The youth are products of their predecessors, modern times, and art.

Being a millennial creative in today’s world is both beautiful and maddening. Opportunities to create are endless, but the art scene of today is saturated in Instagram accounts and Facebook pages of people who want the same things you want – to be seen. A lot of what you do lies in what will get you ‘liked’ by the youthful degenerates prowling your exhibition space – social media platforms.

It is thus of vital importance that you, as a millennial creative, stand strong in a digital world that is proving to be more and more against you. You must not only know yourself and what it means to be a creative millennial – sensitive, cynical and determined to be seen, but also know your audience – millennials, considered to be ruthless, entitled airheads with keypads attached to their fingers and quirky Twitter handles. You might differ slightly from your peers, but you are of the same generation, coming with the same baggage and thirst to succeed.

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The support of fellow creatives in an online space is a privilege many do not experience. /Source:  http://alleegory.tumblr.com

Everything happens on social media – Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest will be your exhibition space. Although it can be a fantastic tool that will help you create a brand and grow as a creative, it can also be the 9th circle of hell. Social media is an over-crowded space that suffocate many creatives trying to share their art with the world. When the click of a button determines your work’s value, it can become frustrating. Your craft will be subjected to not only traditional critique from art and literary critics, but the entire world of ‘trolls’ and ‘haters’ who will find pleasure in ripping you and your work apart. Finding balance between promoting and protecting your work on social media is key. Creatives are known to be sensitive, but in a world where social media presence will dictate what becomes of your work, what will become of you? You are able to read every sour, unjustified comment from people who glanced at your work, shrugged and wrote senseless, attention-seeking words. The backbone you need must be made of Valerian steel.

It is incredibly easy for people to hide behind their words in the digital sphere, and ridicule without retribution. This will influence your decision whether you want to share your work on social media. There are, however, other millennial creatives doing the same thing you are, but taking a stand and promoting one another’s work. Spreading positivity around platforms will not only help you grow as a creative, but nurture your instinct to share other people’s accomplishments. You will then be able to step out from under the selfish umbrella most millennials are under, and look further than yourself, for you are not the only one on a journey. You are not the only one navigating the rough and unkind seas of social media. There is life after you! Who knew?

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Be the optimist and positive light social media spaces lack. / Source: http://hipananus.tumblr.com/post/86872290044

Millennials are prone to instant gratification. They cannot wait for the picture to load longer than 10 seconds, or they scroll on. They are impatient if a song buffers, and they get annoyed if they have to describe their feelings in more than 140 characters. They can’t get through dinner without checking their phones, uploading a selfie or texting someone about what they are eating after they took 50 photos of it. There is thus little respect for the time and energy you have put into your craft – millennials don’t care if you spent three hours painting a tree to be just the right colour, or spent countless sleepless nights writing a song that is three minutes long. Excepting more than acknowledgment for a job well done is rare, so don’t expect it. Don’t expect anything. Admire your skill and the time it took to perfect it, bask in the glory of your masterpieces only because you know how many days and nights it took for your work to become a masterpiece – no one else will.

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Self-worth is the life boat that keeps the creative afloat. / Artwork by Kate Powell, http:/www.pinterest.co.uk/digipixture

It has become increasingly difficult to share inspiration with a millennial audience, and in turn be inspired by your surroundings. How can you write brilliant essays of adventuring in beautiful places when you are stuck behind a screen? How can you sing of love when you receive meaningless and unromantic Tinder messages 11 o’clock at night? Go, young millennial, and experience life without a digital cloud. Try looking at the ocean without wanting to capture it with your phone and rather imagine it on canvas. Go on a date, mute your phone and listen to the person rambling about their Snapchat followers. Talk about your favourite poets. At least you tried. Millennial creatives depend largely on topical inspiration, never venturing too deep for fear of the unknown. It is true that people find inspiration in different places, but only scratching the surface of what could possibly inspire you is mundane. Dig deep and experience life to convey your craft truthfully in a space where lies, masks and fake news roam freely.

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Dive into the ocean that is your crazy, beautiful mind and find your creative space. / Source: https://za.pinterest.com/fentonali2018/tumblr/

Building your brand as a millennial creative on a social media platform is often a bragging affair. You need to believe in your craft if you are to be seen – you need to share as much of yourself as possible with the world in order to gain traction.  It is thus important to draw a line between sharing content in a respectful, creative manner or splashing your craft (and yourself) all over social media for the world to exploit. Sharing details about yourself is useful, but be protective of your image. Millennials are not afraid to expose a version of themselves that they like and think others will like as well, whether it be skin, provocative words or simply making your whereabouts known. You must be able to separate your craft from yourself. Be open and truthful to your followers, share as much as you like, but know that your actions will speak loud across the digital space. Be careful not to overshadow your creativity with what you think will attract people.

Being a creative has been and always will be difficult. You see the world not for what it is, but for what it can be. As a millennial creative, you will most certainly experience setbacks, heartbreak and a gross amount of negative and uninspiring words. However, you are a creative – you are a unique voice that cannot be silenced by mere words in digital fog. It is your responsibility to roam the vast universe of social media, receive what it has to offer and leave it better than you found it. Enjoy being a creative, enjoy being a millennial and enjoy being young. The world owes you nothing, but you owe it the truth.

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“From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.” – Kate Powell. /Artwork by Kate powell https://za.pinterest.com
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