Episode 103: Rediscovering My Non-Digital Self
My changing relationship with social media
May I present to you my February musings, then read on for my favorite finds (movie, podcast, book, magazine, tv show…) after this. Hope they inspire and delight ;)
Episode 103: Rediscovering My Non-Digital Self
My changing relationship with social media
Are you totally over the endless scroll of social media?
I REALLY am.
I’ve been having a number of conversations with friends who also came up in the “new media/web series” community in Los Angeles in the late 2000s. A large majority of us are fully burned out on social media. I know that literally everyone in the world has had a pretty intense couple of decades with the fast paced rise of tech and how we receive and share information, but there seems to be something especially hard for those of us who were entrenched in the early aughts digital media landscape.
I of course had a MySpace, got onto facebook as soon as it was open to everyone, signed up for a twitter account, tumblr, vine. I periscoped and later Clubhouse-d for a hot second. In 2008 I was part of a year long YouTube series called Musecast where every single Tuesday I documented my journey in the entertainment industry. After that I was a social media consultant for individuals and PR firms. Then came 7 years of running Ms. In The Biz, the blog that was more of an online magazine with over 300 contributing writers and reached over a million readers all over the globe.
It was all about output and connection. Constant output and connection.
Also, being fully entrenched in the entertainment industry, “branding” and “marketing” and being comfortable with self promotion, were paramount. It was important to be out in the online social landscape as a content creator, as an actor.
I loved it all. Until I didn’t.
After years of constantly putting myself out into the digital ether, and 10 intense years of LA, living the toxic “hustle mentality” that I subscribed to at the time, I realized that I was doing so much of what I thought was expected rather than what I actually wanted.
My husband and I were both exhausted from what we loving call the “long con of Los Angeles” (I’ll need to explain that phrase in another post later), and moving back to the Vancouver area in 2017 helped change my perspective on a lot of things.
We now live in Langley in what was my Granny’s house built in 1948. We have trees and a salmon spawning creek, ducks and eagles, herons and owls. When we first arrived I felt extremely disconnected from the life and career I had built. Where were the big red carpet events? the film premieres? the start-studded panels? the constant connection and finger on the pulse of what’s new and vibrant in the entertainment industry? the hustle of moving a career forward?
So, I kind of tried to recreate it here for myself.
I was convinced that the “go go go” career strategies that were so important when it came to social media and self promotion would work in Vancouver. Interestingly, they didn’t. Vancouver is a completely different market, an entirely different vibe. I realized for the first time that a lot of the things I was relying on to keep me moving forward was all just busy work. It was taking me away from REAL life, from important moments, and in many ways, myself.
When I realized that being SO online didn’t matter as much in helping me secure an acting job or a producing gig, I started to fill my time with things that I used to love. I finally stopped climbing up the “down-moving escalator” of the entertainment industry and decided to take that scenic route of “the stairs” instead. Okay, I’m definitely pushing that metaphor, but I can say whole heartedly that when I stopped trying so hard to prove myself, I started to enjoy the artistry in everything around me, and this made me a better creative craftsperson, and in turn I started booking more work.
On the daily, I realized that certain social media platforms sucked the life out of me. I’m rarely on facebook, never on twitter, kind of despise tiktok, haven’t opened linkedin in ages… truly it’s only Instagram that I frequent all of the time and I still have a love/hate with it purely because I would pay a big sum of money for there to be a monthly subscription option that would remove ads. I really really dislike all of the ads.
But for the most part, Instagram has become a happy corner of the internet for me. I have closely curated my feed and who/what I follow so it’s pretty much only things that inspire me artistically, accounts that make me feel good, and close friends.
While sharing and promoting work is somewhat necessary to do as a professional actor, writer, photographer, and producer (as evidenced by the SUBSCRIBE buttons on this post), it’s something that I now truly enjoy. What I choose to share about is what fulfills me as an artist and as a person. I no longer think about how it will “help move my career forward”, and it’s a really refreshing way to be.
Social media for me is now about how I want to connect with the world as Helenna, because I do love connecting. Instagram stories are a way for me to share things I’m passionate about and often leads to great DM dialogues with people. It makes my heart happy, and I’ve realized if something about social media whether it’s a platform or an account doesn’t bring me warm fuzzies, I’m no longer interested in giving it any attention.
Some of the fun things that I rediscovered as I started to cleanse my digital self:
I read novels again, a lot of novels, not just self-help books in being more productive
I listen to music while walking instead of a steady stream of industry podcasts, my favorite genre is Americana
I garden — try to garden (Barry does most of the actual gardening)
I hike in a true Pacific Northwest way, and am not at all thinking about looking cute cuz it’s LA and who knows who I’ll meet on the trail
I think daily about my passions, what really fuels my creative heart and makes my life feel full and I do THOSE THINGS
I take pics with a 35mm film camera because I’m learning to relish in the “not knowing” for awhile
I take less photos with my iphone “to post on social media” they way I did all 10 years in LA
I cook dishes from scratch way more than I used to
I enjoy the quiet of the sunrise with a cup of tea (or 3)
I stopped feeling like “if I don’t post it on social media did it even happen?”, and now feel like the less I post, the more real and significant it probably is.
Over the last 6 years I’ve come back to myself - to the 13 year old girl who enjoyed being alone instead of fearing it, who had “Helenna movie nights” in high school and would watch 2 films back to back, who wrote some of the most ridiculous poems, who didn’t care how her look would be marketed, what her branding was. The freedom of that girl has come back, and the 42 year old me of today is integrating her into a more minimal but meaningful digital presence.
I’m really curious:
has your relationship to social media changed over the years too?
what line of work are you in… is social media important for job/business growth?
is your artistry/creativity enhanced or dulled by social media?
Would love to hear your thoughts.
Throw me a comment here:
My Favorite Finds for February
MAGAZINE: The Atlantic
For lack of a better word, this publication is so freaking “hip”. All of the columnists are very well educated, show many sides to an issue, are not bombastic, and feel like thought leaders on the forefront of ideas. The Atlantic is available via Digital/Print subscriptions, a daily free newsletter, great Instagram account, slick app, and some articles are available via Apple News too). Personally, I love Sophie Gilbert’s pieces.
MOVIE: Women Talking
Women Talking is perfectly directed, written, acted… so many layers upon layers of meaning. It’s a film that shows the beauty of generations of women, the power of women, but also how silence and literal lack of language to communicate perpetuates violence and patriarchy. It’s unbelievably impactful. I feel like I could write an entire thesis on this movie.
BOOK: Financial Feminist
If there is one book I wish I had read in college it’s this one. Tori Dunlap expertly lays out the importance of investing and having a handle on finances, especially for women. This is perfect to read no matter what age you are but definitely if you are raising daughters. 5/5 BIG STARS for this book.
PODCAST: Talk Easy
This is a phenomenal interview-style podcast hosted by Sam Fragoso. And man does he “talk easy” on Talk Easy. He has this beautiful way of speaking with guests that results in deep, meaningful interviews. This one with Ke Huy Quan from “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a perfect example and a complete must listen. If you didn’t feel like we need to protect Ke Huy Quan at all costs, this will absolutely have you convinced.
TV SHOW: The Last Of Us
I know, I know. Not very original but it has to be said… The Last of Us Episode 3 is literally the best episode of TV ever made. If it doesn’t win a ton of Emmys… well, it will. It just has to.
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The glorification of the hustle. I’m so tired. I love you deeply. ♥️
I feel like we may be hanging out at the same emotional/spiritual space, my friend. Here was one of the quote of the days I posted (i’m on social media less, but still more than I like)
“Thus we are busy people just like all other busy people, rewarded with the rewards which are rewarded to busy people!”