His empty hands dripped with sweat as he approached the altar on his knees. The creature with a million dead eyes was waiting, its many orifices watering, towering over the small human.
“I know that you crave constant stimulation,” he said, “and you demand new content continuously,” he put his hands up, “but as an artist, I just can’t do it. I have nothing of value to offer today.”
The beast reared back and howled, pulling taut the thousands of cables running from its body. It thrashed. It shrieked. Drops of saliva rained down. The artist shielded his head and vital organs, anticipating a swift yet painful execution.
But the beast turned away, laughing and gurgling, distracted by another’s offering; something loud, flashy, and viral. That would buy the artist some more time.
He crawled into a dark corner of the temple, where, being enveloped by the whirring of giant cooling fans, he could have a moment to just be human and think.
Going uptown, the F train was packed. With my back to the doors, I stood, studying people’s footwear. A baby wailed. Some teenage girls chittered like squirrels. A garlicky dude was barking into his cell phone.
Across the way, an older man faced outward, his nose pressed to the glass, grocery bags swaying at his sides. As we hurtled through the dark tunnel, he cried out:
“Oh, there they are”—everyone else on the train got quiet—“those teenage mutant ninja turtles. Workin’ on the tracks.”
As a creative person, I think I have a problem with certain types of social media. I don’t have a healthy relationship with things like Instagram and Facebook. I admit that now. It’s good to get it out.
I get into these phases in which I begin posting quite often, maybe giving updates on a certain project, and I become addicted to the likes, to the attention. I check obsessively to see if there are any new followers. I’m a genius right? Shouldn’t I have thousands of adoring fans? Like so-and-so over there?
I begin comparing myself to those others who don’t seem to offer the same quality work that I provide. Or I begin questioning why seventeen thousand people would follow such an account. What do they know? Are they even real people?
I begin thinking up strategies on how to draw these followers to my side. I begin churning out junk that I think could be popular with certain crowds. It usually ends up being subpar and rushed.
I ignore the one person’s opinion that really matters in the end, my own.
It’s like Kurt Vonnegut says: “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”
So, what do I intend to do about it?
I need to step back and have some quiet time, some “me” time, to reflect on the art and story ideas that really excite me.
That’s what I did this past week. I’ve chewed on the subject of this post for days. I also sat down with my sketchbook and thought about social media, these accompanying doodles are the result.
I should not invest so much time and energy in social media apps. I will try to connect with real people on the internet, only when I have a free moment here or there. I’ve joined the community at AbsoluteWrite and I hope to make some new friends, have some good conversations, and learn some things too.
I need to remind myself that Instagram is a tool that I can utilize periodically, like a hammer or a toothbrush. I don’t need to obsessively use it every day.
Somewhere deep in the back of my mind palace, at the end of a quiet corridor, through a small hole in a wall, lives this little fellow, hiding from the world and hoarding his treasures. This is my spirit animal.
This illustration is a combination of ink, watercolor paint and watercolor pencils.