Social Media & The Vine App: Art, Self Expression, Marketing or Exhibitionism?

For those of you who have a smartphone, have you downloaded or started using the new Vine app?  I am totally in love with it and I've only been using it for a few days!  My username is: Moorea Seal if you want to add me.  I really want to follow more people because I am obsessed with it so let me know if you are on it!  Here are a few of the videos I've made so far:

I actually took a video making class while I was at Alt and have been really interested in experimenting with video recently so I think this app couldn't have sprung up at a better time.  I know there are other videomaking apps for smartphones but I am really diggin' this one.  It functions somewhat like twitter but you can only post videos.  It only allows you to make 6 second videos within the app itself, no uploading videos from other sources and it records the sounds happening in the background.  You can record 6 straight seconds of whatever you want or you can splice it up to create a sort of stop motion video.

Now when I was a pre-teen and in high school, my best friend and I LOVED making goofy videos and stop motion videos.  We both must have quite a few tapes stacked up somewhere within the depths of our parents houses.  My sisters and I loved making funny videos together too.  What the iPhone camera is to teens today is what an actual camcorder was to my generation, I think.  It gave my best friend, our sisters and I so much opportunity to create, narrate, come up with story lines, act, and improve and/or simply celebrate our love of comedy and laughter.  Jessy and I were both pretty shy, but when you got to know us we were extremely goofy and were much more inclined to try to make you laugh than to try to act cool.  The only people we would show our videos to would be our sisters and parents.  It wasn't about showing off or trying to get attention or praise.  It was just about having fun, creating, and happiness.

I think for me, when I started playing with the Vine app a few days ago, I suddenly tapped into those feelings of fun, self expression, creativity, and happiness with my little 6 second videos.  A new wave of inspiration and joy hit me as soon as I recorded my first video.  But I quickly heard from the online community that there were problems with inappropriate videos going up on the app.  You know what I am talking about.  Serious exhibitionism and voyeurism.  I guess that is bound to happen within any sort of social media video or photo realm.  But I haven't encountered any of that on Vine.  And I just hope that the folks behind the company can smack down on that crap quickly.

But Vine, Twitter, and social media in general do bring up a lot of questions for people I think.  Or perhaps they bring up questions that I think we need to be asking ourselves:  When are we over sharing?  What is the root of our need to share?  Are we posting 160 character tweets because we crave attention, because we are exhibitionists, for business, as a marketing tool, or just for fun to connect to friends?  Do we make videos because we are lonely, because it is artistic expression, because everyone else is doing it, or simply because it brings us personal and communal joy?

I think we are getting to a point in culture, more specifically American culture, where we are SO incredibly saturated with ways to express ourselves both online and in day to day life.  I myself have a blog, I'm on twitter, I use Vine, I'm on Pinterest, I have a personal a business account on Facebook, the list goes on.  Because I have an online business, I do try to to use most of my social media accounts as marketing tools for my work because let's face it folks, my business is my main source of income and I need to survive and sustain myself just like everyone else does!  But I do also care about truly connecting with others.  And I personally believe that the internet and social media have given me an amazing arena for me to share who I am and to connect with others.

I believe in leadership, in encouraging and inspiring others, in loving others, in honesty and kindess, creativity and self expression.  Reflecting upon the leaders in my family, I feel like I was born to carry on their leadership of love, empowerment for others, and compassion.  And for me, being that I am such an introvert and gain most of my energy from being alone, the web and social media have become amazing venues for me to be my best self towards others.  And I do hope that my honesty and kindess on the web is doing something good for others in this space.

But, the problem with the internet and social media is that while you can pursue the spread of beautiful things like these, you can sometimes get tangled up in self obsession, in exhibitionism, in voyeurism, in an unhealthy kind of competition, jealousy, cattiness, and elitism.  Cliques can form online.  You can beat yourself for not having as big of a following as other people you like or dislike.  You can become bitter and annoyed while investing your time into following other people's blogs, twitter, videos, and what have you online, and really, we all know that is a waste of your energy, heart, and time, investing yourself in spaces that just bring on negative feelings.

So, friends, let's all take sometime to think about how we present ourselves in our online spaces.  Do you feel like you present a truthful view of you?  Being truthful doesn't mean you tell everyone every little detail of your life.  Yikes, you don't have to do that!  Do you feel like you are over sharing?  What sort of personal things that you share feel like they actually are contributing to your community somehow?  And do you reflect and read through what you wrote before you posted it?  How will your words, images, and videos effect others?  And which personal things feel more like just a plea for attention?  Do you share or create online because its for your business?  For personal pleasure?  For creative expression?  For fun and to bring personal enjoyment?  To connect to others on a deeper level?  To try to be better than someone else?  What are the roots of your feelings while you post anything online?

In this age of Social Media, I think it is our responsibility to really take time to think about why we do what we do.  I know that I am very analytical and I always must remind myself after wandering through the chambers of my mind that I need to ease off of myself sometimes.  I have to remember to let myself just experience some things for the sole purpose of being in the moment, not reflecting back or thinking ahead constantly like I tend to do.  For that reason, I try not to get too invested in debating over these sorts of ideas and questions.  But I think that questioning and ruminating on those thoughts are essential parts of being human, as well as learning to not take one's self too seriously.  So I've concluded for myself that I am perfectly happy with how I present myself on my social media accounts, I use them for business, for genuinely connecting with and loving others, and for fun creative expression that brings me happiness.  I've felt differently in the past, and I've had my fair share of criticism from others which is totally ok.  But in the present, I do feel good about what I do online on all of my apps and on all of my bajillions of social media sites.

So, how do you feel about your self expression on the web?  What apps/social media spaces do you use and HOW do you use them?  I'm curious to hear your thoughts!

Something I like to ask myself before & after publishing an image, video, or text on the web: "If this was the first thing that popped up in a google search of me by either someone I know or a stranger, how would I feel about it?"  My goal is to feel fine about anyone I know or don't know getting a first impression of me through whatever I published online.  Do you have a phrase that you think of when you publish something online?


Marilyn (Pulp Sushi) said...

I'm usually super mindful of how much I share online. I use to be more open when I was younger and before I had a business. I know for certain that I hate videos of myself so I'll never use Vine or do a vlog post - it's just not my thing. I agree that it seems like some have gotten TOO comfortable with all the different SM outlets that are out there. Primarily I use it to promote my shop/blog but I enjoy the connections I've made and find that as an added bonus. :)

kelsey bang said...

i love this! you brought up so many wonderful points! i like how you talked about how are we portraying ourselves. I think that is a big deal, and an important thing! I also liked how you touched on why we use social media. I think its a great thing to think about and see what should or should not be a priority in our lives. thanks for the great tips!

Abigail Daggers said...

I agree with your point of view. "to feel fine about anyone...getting a first impression of me through whatever I published online.".
I think too many people have dived headlong into social media without any thought for the repercussions. for example, I have just got a new job and i was told on the interview "We liked the look of your FB', It pays to be conscientious in what you put out there. In 'real life' I have a dry sarcastic sense of humour but I have a no sarcasm or negativity policy on the internet. It can get misconstrued really easily.

I like your outlook and your blog xxx

Kristie said...

I'm on Vine too (Kristie Bringhurst)and I love it! At first, I was a little self-conscious of what I was taking videos of (too many cats?), but now I'm all for just doing what makes me happy. If people don't like my videos they don't have to follow me, right? I, like you, am an introvert and if social media helps me express myself I'm all for it.

I love your videos, by the way. I show my husband like every one you make because I'm so impressed. You go, girl.

tnt521 said...

Love this conversation and have been in the process of setting up a blog. I want to be a place of honesty, but also want it to make me happy. I have a vine (Tammy Thiele) and hope for it to be something that I can play with in a creative way with my girls!

Love pretty much everything you do!


Lexie said...

I am a complete introvert as well, so finding my niche online has been difficult. Difficult because I tend to over-analyze and over-think everything. I hesitate to post things. I worry that I'm putting too much of myself out there. I worry that people I know will see my blog, and it makes me nervous that it's out of my control. It's not that I don't trust my content. I know it is honest, but that's what's so terrifying! <-- And the funny thing is, I don't have "too much" out there yet, because I can't bring myself to post it half the time. I'm still just trying to figure out how to get over my fear of social media and start using it effectively.
I also struggle when I look around at other blogs and start comparing them with my own. My content doesn't seem to be fitting the mold, which ironically alludes to my tangible, real life's struggles! I want to be me, but I also want readers to interact with, and I have hardly any, and none (yet) on my new blog. But ultimately, the importance of blogging to me is to build relationships and love others.
It's a joy to reflect on all of this. I agree so much with this post. Thanks, Moorea!