Attempts At Being a Content Creator

"Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

As an older member of GenZ, social media is a basic part of my social life. When I went to college, I had different accounts but didn’t use them often. Then I met people who act like you live under a rock if you don’t use Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, and literally every other app that allows you to comment on posts.

Many would consider themselves to be “addicted” to social media, which is understandable since the apps are designed to be as “addictive” as possible, but I would not describe my own behavior as such. 

I’ve deleted several apps, and re-downloaded them, several times in the past few years. Recently, I’ve spent more time using social media than ever before and realized I needed to remove myself from platforms for a bit.

No longer sharing photos from campus events or selfies with friends, I was anxious about how I appeared to my old friends and acquaintances as I navigated post grad life.

Using my previous experience managing the Coe College Psychology Club and Coe College Learning Commons social media, I decided to focus on my own.

I was more aware than ever before of how most accounts I followed were posting content I could do myself, and gained interest in social media marketing.

However, there was a serious conflict of interests; as I worked to create my platforms and gain followers, I struggled to remain true to myself by not caring about such things.

I played stupid games, to win stupid prizes, and eventually it wasn’t fun anymore. I chose to delete my apps and spent October focusing on my graduate school applications. Now it’s December and I’ve regained a clear head.

I encourage you to reflect on your experiences with social media, and to help you do so I’ll share some reflections of my own:

Snapchat

Before I joined my sorority, I pretty much only used Snapchat and Facebook. Once I met more people, I wanted to connect with them, so sharing SnapCodes was a must.

I would watch my friends’ stories and feel the rush of dopamine when I saw people watch my own.

Snapchat can basically be a personal vlog. You can create stories to share with any randos who found and followed your account (somehow), and create private stories to rant to those special select few.

Once I got a taste of feeling like people genuinely cared about my hobby of recording any squirrel I came across and aesthetic photos of my desk, it was hard to let it go.

In fact, the main reason I deleted Snapchat is that they kept pushing the Kardashians to my feed. Snapchat used to be simpler. There was a page devoted to all of your conversations with friends, the page to take photos and record videos, and the page to watch stories.

Then, there were Snapchat content creators and you could watch their videos on your phone. Then, all of a sudden, celebrity news took over my feed and the options to say “not interested” or “never show me this again” were gone! It was obvious who was paying them to advertise. 

The filters began to irritate me, because they whiten my skin. Not lighten, WHITEN. The melanin-friendly filters I found were never at the top, even though I saved them to favorites, because the app wanted to put their promoted filters.

The group chats were the only reason I stayed so long, because NO ONE liked GroupMe (apparently). No one responds to text messages, or will simply text you. Sending quick photos on SnapChat seemed to be the only way to maintain contact with the outside world, especially once the pandemic began. 

After graduation, I felt restless and lonely. You grow accustomed to being surrounded by thousands of other twenty-somethings every day. Once I chose to use my social media accounts intentionally and create platforms for myself, I grew angry.

What was the point of using the app if I was just talking to the same three people every day. We can just text. I made a quick Snap about finally deleting the app, and never looked back.

Until six months later, since I hadn’t heard from a few people. I didn’t miss out on anything, the FOMO was a false alarm, so I deleted it five minutes later.

Instagram

There were times where I would procrastinate on work and scroll through Instagram, catching up on life events of peers who I saw in passing.

Consistently busy, most of my interactions with others had a set purpose; this is an important part of being a socially active introvert.

My clubs, work study, jobs, homework, and sorority obligations took up all my time. Honestly, the struggle was creating gaps in my schedule to relax and have alone time.

Being a full-time teacher, all those hours I spent doing a variety of activities shifted to one. While I have many responsibilities, and my days can be quite hectic, I am still on one place all day long. It’s different and took time to adjust.

Becoming more active on Instagram helped alleviate the stress, but it was a temporary solution. My social media usage was intended to replace my previous involvement, so naturally I began to use it as personal homework assignments (a personal project).

I wanted to become a social media activist, sharing resources, and creating aesthetic posts with important information to capture attention and create an audience.

I considered changing my account to fit better into what the algorithm preferred, taking away the personal touches and focusing on quick and simply content creation.

However, this conflicted with my moral compass, so I was unable to do so. This inability to just do it, and design and post and design and post was too much pressure. My perfectionistic habits took over and it was not healthy.

This is not entirely my fault, because as I said these apps are designed to be “addictive”, but also the time commitment necessary was more than expected.

Not only did I need to research content for my posts and design the posts, I had to find suitable hashtags and try to post consistently to gain an audience. Over the summer I gained about 50 followers, however the engagement with my posts was quite low.

Although I spent a lot of time and effort on my account, the benefits simply did not exist. I was essentially trying to enter a popularity contest with creators and businesses who already know exactly what to say and do to make it on Instagram.

I realize now that my main problem was turning my personal account into a professional account when I should’ve created a separate account solely for my platform.

My followers are made up of friends and acquaintances, who grew annoyed with my constant posting about suicide prevention and awareness and my own mental health journey. No one ever told me, but the lack of engagement made it obvious.

The lack of engagement on my non-selfie/life update posts only hurt my account in the algorithm since more engagement early encourages greater reach to the users through the Explore page.

I realized that my main reason for using the app was to create content, and that I didn’t really enjoy Instagram anymore.

I grew insecure about my content, developing imposter syndrome. *“Comparison is the thief of creativity”, and I was unable to continue expressing myself through the app.

Knowing I had more important things to do, I talked to some friends for advice and decided to delete this app, as well.

Re-downloaded two weeks ago, my usage has dropped significantly, as I fight the urge to post the downs of my mental health.

The technical issues I had with the app have not disappeared (I discuss these issues in my Attempts at Being a Content Creator post), however, the occasional weekly scroll suits me better. The FOMO was strong with this app, but I’ve been able to get a handle on it.

*The actual phrase is “comparison is the thief of joy” attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, but I did not remember it this way and created my own phrase.

TikTok

I hate TikTok. It’s also my favorite social media app. Two things can exist at the same time.

I have had the greatest success creating a platform via TikTok, with several viral videos over the summer. However, I struggled to truly speak my mind and say what needs to be said. I compared myself to more popular creators, and even my mutuals (people I follow who follow my account, as well).

I am shadow-banned whenever I speak about the C.R.O.W.N. Act – a.k.a. Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural, natural hair pride, and being a Black woman in America.

My more popular videos include a simple statement about supporting Black creators, a rant about locking the door, opening up about my terrible roommate experience, and describing life with colonizers (called Life With Colonizers, Life With Karens, and something else in the future).

I’m new to this advocacy thing, so it makes sense that I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s okay that I’m still figuring things out.

Despite having enough followers to be part of the Creator Fund, TikTok shadow banned me strongest when I applied, then proceeded to claim I never applied in the first place.

I am resolved in never earning a penny from the app and will return with improved content once I am mentally ready to be brave and speak my truth, with “no hate, just honesty”.

Twitter

This account serves the purpose of existing so that no one else may claim my handle.

YouTube

This is not nearly as easy as it looks. I have no prior experience looking good on camera, and even with practice I am still awkward AF. Even when I managed to record good videos, editing take FOREVER.

It’s a lot, and the dopamine is weak with this one. To make it on YouTube, I’ll have to take my content to the next level, and I am not ready to make the commitment.

Pinterest

I was ecstatic when I first began my “business” account; I gained thousands of views in the first few months. After a while those numbers went down. Sure, I stopped creating and sharing pins, but I also know that simply posting whenever doesn’t lead to engagement.

One of my favorite YouTube creators, Cathrin Manning (formerly known as The Content Bug) shared her experience becoming a successful content creator, which helped me gain insight into the committment I needed to make.

To be active on Pinterest, I must use an application that allows me to schedule pins, and post them continuously. Or, I can do it all manually.

Since it’s not my goal to spend a ton of money on this kinda-sorta hobby of mine, manually is the way to go. Though now’s not the time for such effort. 

Facebook

What can I say? People act like deleting Facebook is no big deal, then act like you’re a monster when you unfriend them. Make it make sense. I started using Facebook when I was 13 years old. Everyone else made an account, so I did too. It was part of the reason I needed an email address.

It’s been almost 10 years (woof!) most of my connection to the site is gone. The accounts I made through my FB account have been removed, though FB has only recently made it an option to remove access easily. I used to search for hours and unlink one by one. Talk about petty.

I used to use Facebook Photos and spent two months deleting photos clicking as many as I could at once. Even now, I still have posts from childhood I need to delete.

Deleting the app is a dream I am too afraid to bring to fruition. There are people I care about who only connect with me through the dang site. I’m getting better at letting people go.

I learned a lot about my own behavior and mental health through my social media usage. I learned too much about strangers. I’d say my experience has been 60% annoying, 40% informative.

Perhaps this time next year, I’ll only be active on one app, and check the others like I do my high school email account (annually).

Habits are hard to change, and social media was designed to form habits. Specifically, the habit of using the app as close to 24/7 as possible. How will I fight this? Well, I won’t feel rushed to post or react to every controversial topic on the internet, and when I do post my content will be meaningful to me.

I can always change my mind, delete posts and reupload as I see fit ;0)

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