HOW TO STAY SANE AS AN ONLINE CREATOR
Last week my Twitter account suddenly became visible to a lot more people. The same day lots of other high-profile users were seeing massive shifts in their follower count, I noticed a drastic uptick in not only new people, but even people who have followed me for years were suddenly able my tweets.
Someone told me they checked my account a while back and I was, in fact, shadowbanned. Not the case now. But that’s not really the point I want to make here. The point I want to make is this:
You can do all the right things and still fail.
Back in the day, maybe 15-20 years ago, the internet held the promise of no gatekeepers. No big media organizations throttling the average person from getting their thoughts, ideas, humor, and art out to a larger audience. If you stick with your blog long enough, consistently enough, and persevere you will find your audience. “Get on that information super highway, fella! Make a name for yourself!”
Ah, the wild west days of the internet.
But now tech and ideology and a generation of younger people who don’t remember those unfettered digital days have birthed a new phase of the internet. A nebulous and nefarious amalgamation of AI and people that now guard the city walls. The rules are different and largely impersonal and ever-changing. Even the most successful creators can have the rug pulled out from under them at any time.
NO ONE IS SAFE
I follow Dimitri Martin over on Instagram, for an example. He’s funny. He has 150k+ people who follow him. Yet, he posted this week that Instagram has become frustrating and it’s easier for people to keep up with him through his email list.
You know, like we did back in the aforementioned internet pioneer days.
Although that’s a better way to reach your audience than relying on the shifting sand of social media, it’s still not immune. Here’s a tip I learned: Don’t use your main email address as your mailing list address. Google, for example, in their profound kindness will often descend from on high and mark those addresses as spam. Even if you reply to a direct email, your reply will go straight to Gmail’s trash.
I found that out the hard way.
This is the part where ordinarily there would be some “just do this” paragraph where there’s a neat little solution wrapped up in a pretty digital bow. If there is a solution, I don’t know what it is. BUT, I do have some thoughts.
HOW TO STAY SANE ON THE INTERNET
First, keep making stuff and writing and posting (especially on your own site) because that’s what you do if you’re a creator of any type. If even for a brief moment a crack in the algorithmic wall appears you might slip through.
Second, struggling to get an audience doesn’t mean your work isn’t good. I mean, it might be total crap, I don’t know. But, there’s a lot of good stuff that doesn’t go viral or have a huge following simply because the system doesn’t let it get out. Don’t take it necessarily as a rejection.
Third, don’t envy large audiences. Cultivate a small loyal community around your work. Keep making stuff and interacting. Get to know people.
Lastly, don’t get obsessed with constantly looking at numbers and follower counts and likes. Don’t wear yourself out constantly checking your social media pulse like a hypochondriac politician. It’s not going to help you make better stuff.
That’s the state of the union address for the internet as of now. At least as far as I can tell. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to schedule some tweets.7