Why Social Media May Not Be the Best Thing for Me

The craziest year I remember is drawing to a close, and like most of humanity, I’m questioning what I want to do going forward. One of the things I’ve been realizing over and over is this:

SOCIAL MEDIA IS STEALING MY JOY.

We all have different responses to social media. Some thrive on the interaction. Some have found their community that makes them feel a sense of belonging (similar to how I felt in early days of blogging and livejournal). For others it’s a drain. A game of comparisons. And feelings of insecurity.

It has been all of these things for me at some point.

I’ve taken a break from posting on Instagram since before Christmas, and even though it’s only been about a week, I feel a huge burden lifted from my shoulders.

You see, I wasn’t posting my own content all the time. I would find dresses, vintage images, other things to inspire others and create a little community. And between my own content and the others, it worked. My following grew to 35K this year. All organically.

So why was I no longer having joy from posting?

If there’s something I know about myself, it’s this. As soon as I’m expected to do something- be it and expectation from others or an expectation from myself- I don’t want to do it. It becomes a chore.

This becomes a double-edged sword when you’re a small business owner who does most of the work alone. Because a lot of those tasks NEED to get done in order to support your family. But some of them? Maybe they’re not so important.

And maybe I need to remember why I started doing this in the first place. The joy of making and the joy of discovery. And the joy of learning and then teaching.

Yesterday, as an experiment, I deleted Facebook from my phone as well. I wanted to see if I got an equal amount of peace. And most of the day I did! I spent my last full day of Christmas break with my little girl and my husband and didn’t check my feed because it had become a mindless thing to do while I sat on the couch. Instead I engaged. I dreamed. And in the evening I actually went through and pulled out my pattern boxes and thought about things I wanted to make and learn from and share with others. That joy hasn’t come through in a long time.

By late last night I wanted to show a few friends what I had found so re-installed the dreaded app. And by this morning I caught myself mindlessly scrolling. And mindlessly commenting.

And then it started. The app was closed. The phone was down. And I started worrying about what I said. “Do I look self-centered?” “Was I not sympathetic enough?” “Could what I have said have double meaning and be taken out of context?” Simple things. Things no human in their right mind should even second guess. But the social anxiety started.

You see, for some people, social anxiety doesn’t come only from in-person conversation. It also comes from the online world. And in a world where black and white text has to convey meaning and feeling, it’s not unusal for things to be taken in a way which never would be seen if you were in person and could see faces and hear tone of voice.

And it’s just struck me how much I miss the joyful sound of my friend’s laughter this year. 2020 is hard.

A few months ago, as a challenge to myself, I started playing with Youtube. Wondering if I tried hard enough if I could monetize it and offset my time it takes to make sewing tutorials with some form of compensation. As a small business owner I have to wear many hats, and the tutorials have become so useful when someone has a question. A visual really is beneficial.

But, true to form, I set expectations for myself. “I must put up one a week.” So I did that for a month and a half or so, and- YEP. It’s a chore now.

I really do like making videos and sharing knowledge, though! And what this blog used to be, seems to have moved over to YouTube for many people, as social media grows and expands and people make different platforms.

In reality, it takes me a FULL DAY to make each little 20 minute video. And I’m not even an editing queen. I’m not a videographer or a personality or an artist. I’m just videoing my face talking, and my hands doing. And it *still* takes that long.

With all social media I have to make a conscious effort not to watch videos or posting styles, or sewing creations of other people or groups, because I so strongly want to have my OWN voice and methods, and I don’t want them to subconsciously influence my sewing style or on-screen methods.

So 2021, here’s what I’m hoping for.

Firstly– Stop scrolling. I admire the work of others, but I don’t need it to influence my creative or business life.

Secondly- it’s ok that I’m self-reliant and dance to the beat of my own drum. I’ve always loved to do my own thing. And if I feel like I’m being influenced to keep up with the Jonses’ I need to remind myself my best work ALWAYS comes from what’s inside of me, which is often NOT usually what everyone else is doing.

Thirdly- I’m going to go where the joy is. If I want to make a killer 1950s coat for myself, I’m going to do it. If I want to make a video tutorial for an old or a new pattern, I’m going to do it. If I want to share on my blog, I’m going to do it. I allow myself to sew, make, and create. Because I deserve it.

Fourth- I’m not going to set a schedule for social media, and I’m going to be ok with letting them “ride”. Of course, since I depend on this business, I cannot do without social media altogether. I can still check comments and schedule posts remotely without it imposing on family or personal time. I will still update pattern releases and tutorials on social media, and I will revive my email list.

Fifth- I’m going to keep on working because I LOVE my work, and I LOVE my customers, and my family obviously needs it, but I always do my best work when I do it with joy and inspiration and out of a great desire to teach about technical skill and fashion history.

Sixth- I’m going to allow myself to accept that I’m not only a pattern maker, but I’m a historian and I’m a teacher. My job includes all three things. I know a heck of a lot.

Seventh- “Comparison is the thief of joy” and “self care is also important.” These two are companions. Maybe some live where they can see friends, and I miss that. Maybe someone can make several historical dresses a year. Maybe a pattern seller comes out with patterns faster than me. It’s OK. I don’t know what their life looks like and they don’t know what my life looks like. I need to be ok with moving at my own speed, and doing the very best I can with the task at hand- even if it means I sew dresses or release patterns once every six months or six years! No one else does what I do. And no one else does what YOU do, dear reader.

So that’s it. That’s why social media may not be the *best* for me. Do you relate? How do you balance social media and your personal or business life.

12 Comments on Why Social Media May Not Be the Best Thing for Me

  1. Cali Hicks
    December 28, 2020 at 11:01 am (4 months ago)

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have likewise spent less time on Instagram and FB. I’ve also been dabbling with YouTube, and I’m aware of the “post often” advice and pressure. Your fans and followers will love your posts whenever they show up. As a creator, you have to love your content. It needs to be fun, or it’s not worth it. Life is too short to be miserable.

    Reply
  2. Sarah
    December 28, 2020 at 2:41 pm (4 months ago)

    This resonates deeply for me. I have tried to find information on how to balance social media use as a small business owner, and there isn’t much. Most of it is advice to be authentic, but what if my authentic is “I hate social media”? Thanks for giving your experience, I appreciate your thoughtful and considered post.

    Reply
  3. Quinn
    December 28, 2020 at 5:32 pm (4 months ago)

    Those are great goals! I also find social media to be feel like a chore and be draining (usually that doesn’t apply to my blog, which is good). I’ve made the choice to check into FB only about once every six weeks and into Instagram only when I am inspired to post. I usually check in on everything, post something new, immediately close it, and then don’t look at it again until I’m ready to post something new. Of course, we all have different ways to cope. :) It is hard to feel creative when a task feels like a chore… so I hope your new goals help you focus on the things that bring you joy! Best wishes for a new year!

    Best,
    Quinn

    Reply
  4. D
    December 28, 2020 at 5:35 pm (4 months ago)

    Good wishes for the changes you want to make. I would be happy to see whatever you post here. I don’t use social media, and miss a lot of blogs that used to post interesting projects and information. I have seen people’s time and attention taken up by just looking at social media, and that reinforced my belief that it wasn’t something I wanted to do. It’s probably easier because I don’t have a smartphone. :-)

    Reply
  5. Nicole
    December 28, 2020 at 8:59 pm (4 months ago)

    I can relate to a lot of what you write here! I finally decided last week to delete my Instagram accounts and it has been so freeing for me. I was getting no joy from it and realized that I wasn’t even enjoying the “social” part of social media anymore.
    Since deleting Instagram, I have felt more inspiration and excitement to create; I have started blogging again, I’ve started crafting again, and am enjoying just being creative in my everyday life.
    I hope that for you, coming to these realizations and voicing them aloud will help you to be able to use social media as a tool, but not let it overwhelm other aspects of your life, or add an unnecessary burden!

    Reply
  6. Silke
    December 29, 2020 at 4:22 am (4 months ago)

    Youtube for sewing Persons is in my opinion not so much related to do often new content. If you have good how to content and titles to the point, new people will watch it, exactly when they need it during their sewing process. And this will go on for years, creating a steady income stream.

    Reply
    • Paulette Vieira
      December 29, 2020 at 12:05 pm (4 months ago)

      I totally agree!!! Too many posts often of not so good content. Create good content with how to’s and they will always find an audience. Somewhat of a sewing manual.

      Reply
  7. Virginia Allain
    December 29, 2020 at 4:34 pm (4 months ago)

    I need to minimize my time on Facebook, so I ordered a little kitchen timer to remind me when to quit.

    Reply
  8. Bopeep
    December 29, 2020 at 6:50 pm (4 months ago)

    Yes! I purposely avoided fb over Christmas because I knew it would be overloaded with well wishes and “look what I got” and “look what we did.” It sounds horribly rude, but I just didn’t want to spend all my energy being excited for everyone else and thus losing sight of my own joy. It’s good to take a step back to reevaluate priorities. I’ve long felt that Pinterest, fb, Instagram and Twitter rob us of our time, our creativity, and our confidence. You have a dedicated following now. We will follow you as you follow your passion, wherever it takes you.

    Reply
  9. Bodkin & Thimble
    December 30, 2020 at 12:06 pm (4 months ago)

    I know exactly how you feel. I don’t really “do” social media – and paying the price – my small business is not going anywhere. After all, marketing is probably 80% of success. I’m sure there are other talented makers out there who feel they are languishing in obscurity because they are not on the social media wagon. If you have found other ways to help your business stay afloat, I’d love to hear about your experiences – I believe there could be a niche movement for small creators who find it the pace of social media interactions draining.

    Reply
  10. Kara
    January 3, 2021 at 12:25 am (3 months ago)

    I love this list. I don’t find social media very social, and also want to spend more time doing what is important to me. Wishing you all the luck in the new year, and every year after that!

    Reply
  11. Natalie
    January 21, 2021 at 11:19 am (3 months ago)

    Well thought out plan. Makes me happy to hear that you’ve been able to simply *be* again, and be able to enjoy exploring projects with less of a sense of drudgery. Because social media connects people from all over the world — a good thing — you can begin to feel that you are in competition with, or less than, such a vast accumulation of people. Before the internet, your community would normally have been much smaller, and a national guild or sometimes an international conference, would be the place you connected with many others at once. Or you wrote back and forth with individuals. Now it’s the whole world all the time, and personally I think many of our brains aren’t quite set up for that.

    FB left my world a few years ago, and I lasted just over a week on Instagram. It was like a having a never-ending feast, and I wore out. Because social media is supposed to be a social exchange of ideas and emotions, when you get on, there is the implicit social pressure to talk and to respond.

    YouTube has been a joy so far as learning techniques and sewing methods, but like others in this set of comments, it’s preferable to me, anyhow, to see occasional content I know nearly always will be interesting rather than be the recipient of a weekly video, interesting or not.

    Blogs seem to be different. Perhaps because a blog’s purpose has been to log, to journal, and by extension, to explain, illustrate, explore, it feels, at least to me, less fraught. Or perhaps it simply is a good match for those of us who like to do such things. A log by its nature is primary a place to express something when one wants to, not necessarily to talk. There was a period when bloggers complained of pressure to post, and I feared that the medium would go the way of social media. Those of us who have used it all along, and those who have returned, seem to understand now that one needn’t do it except when they really want to. Absences long or short are understood as okay: if you don’t write you’re not inspired to.

    So, I wish you the very best in your coming experience. May it bring you peace, and enough connection to keep you and the business healthy, and centeredness. You’re much appreciated in the costuming and fashion sphere, and we’ll keep listening when you wish to say something!

    Very best indeed,
    Natalie in KY

    Reply

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