Blog / 2024 / Social Media ≠ Community

June 12, 2024

Maybe you don’t have this problem,* but, when I was on social media, I really thought I could do it all.

It’s not like I believed that social media was the complete package in terms of promoting my art. I knew it had to be part of a wider effort that included my email list and sending out press releases. Still, social media made me feel like I was failing if I wasn’t doing everything I could to grab people’s eyeballs with my art. It was as if, because I was in charge of my socials, I felt like I controlled their success to some degree—even though their asinine algorithms made that impossible. I felt like I had to be on all the platforms and I had to push as hard as I could.

In that frenzy of personal responsibility, I lost sight of the one thing that social media claims it’s there to help you with: community.

I mean, I would say I understood it. I’d blog and vlog about the importance of community, and I was truly grateful for the likes, shares, and follows. But I know I didn’t really connect with my community, because it never felt like it does now.

Since quitting all corporate social media a few years ago, I’ve been forced to give up the faux empowerment of that world. I know I can’t just post more in order to grab those eyeballs, because I can’t post at all. I rely on others more to get the word out, and not just through social media.

mental health workbook by Lambertville artist Gwenn Seemel
Everything’s Fine, the coloring book

Like when someone shares my new coloring book with the mental health clinicians at Princeton University’s health center—because it’s where that person works and where he’s been showing a few of my paintings—and I sell a whole stack of books to the program. This is great for my finances, obviously, but it’s also satisfying on another level. It’s professional confirmation that the work is useful.

And though you might argue this could’ve happened if I’d friended the office manager of the mental health center on socials, my feeling is that the passive kind of networking that social media encourages wouldn’t have gotten us here.

Sojourner Lambertville Instagram post
screenshot of Sojourner’s Instagram

Same for this Instagram post and everything it represents. Amy of Sojourner may be sharing about my work on social media, but she isn’t a one-click kind of connection. Our relationship formed without electronic intervention, through the bonds of volunteering together. And now she’s throwing me a book launch party and plugging it throughout her network, including on social media. I’ve got to say: it’s way more fun to make a video for Instagram when Amy directs the whole thing and all I have to do is show up and say a few words!

Tomorrow, for the book launch, Amy will also be making the cookies I’ve been promising in my promotion. If you don’t know Amy and her multifaceted creativity, then I realize my promise of cookies may inspire only a little excitement, but, trust me, they’re going to be delicious!

Come celebrate the book and color with me tomorrow from 6 to 8 pm at Sojourner. Artist talk at 6, with cookies and coloring to follow.

26 Bridge Street
Lambertville, NJ 08530

More info and a sneak peek of the coloring book images are here.

* Though, based on this Vox article about AI deep fakes and how one artist is deploying an AI version of herself that’s trained to deal with her social media workload, I think this is a problem for a lot of people.

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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