Validation, Social Media, Happiness, and Creativity

Today I want to talk about a topic that’s been on my mind for a while and that’s the concept of validation in social media as it relates to happiness and creativity. We live in a world where we’re constantly judged to a certain extent by how likable we are, whether that’s how many likes, loves, wows you get on your Facebook post, how many retweets and favorites you get on your Twitter post, how many hearts you get on your Instagram picture, etc. the list goes on and on. Though it’s fun to share with your friends the important events that happen in your life, your proud moments, your sad moments, I think at least for myself, and maybe some of you reading this, we begin to attribute our self-worth and value based on the validation we receive from others in the forms of these social, virtual reactions. It becomes almost like a game where we try to post things that we think will garner the most amount of likable attention from our friends and Facebook’s algorithm, further propels this idea where rich posts become richer. It’s easy to lose your sense of self in this world where you’re constantly feeling an obligation to receive validation from others and this can often affect people’s happiness or unhappiness.

Source: jumparents.co.uk

Recent research shows that your “social network may have a negative impact on your self-esteem.”   This article further states that,

One recent study examined the links between Facebook use and wellbeing. “We found that the more you use Facebook over time, the more likely you are to experience negative physical health, negative mental health and negative life satisfaction,” says study author Holly Shakya, assistant professor and social media researcher at the University of California, San Diego.

I think most of know this in the back of our minds but in our day and age, it’s such a deep part of most our worlds that it’s not really something we can get out of at this point. Yes, we can minimize the amount of time we spend on social media and that will help but I think as humans, we have this natural desire to connect with other human beings and this is just a very convenient and hassle-free way to do so. For a while now, I’ve been trying to change my mindset and post things that I truly want to post, that I care about regardless of if it receives attention or not.

Validation and Creativity

Related image
Source: kdoutsideart.com


As a designer of sound and music, I think this is also a very critical concept as well. Within your palette of skills, it’s important to know how to create art, sound, music, or whatever form of media you’re working on for others, whether it be clients, projects that caters to the masses because we don’t always get the luxury to choose what we want to work on in order to get paid. However, it’s also important to take on projects for yourself, that you truly care and are excited about, whether those projects be popular and garner a lot of public attention or not. If we base what we do solely on the concept of receiving validation, we’re limiting the bounds of your creativity by only creating things that are fall into the formula of virality. That’s not to say that you can’t create something that is truly innovative that goes viral (which is the best of both worlds) but popular music and media often follow formulas. Just think of some of the most popular songs out there; they probably all follow a similar chord progression. Or if you think about movies, there is a certain formula to Michael Bay’s films that will just naturally garner likes. A lot of these popular forms of media employ formulaic elements to them because in general, people like things that are familiar to them and that are in their comfort zones.

Summary: Screw the System

So in conclusion, I think that whether it’s creating a social media post, a piece of music, a project, try to think outside of the validation bubble we live in. Screw the system. How likable your post or design/creation is doesn’t determine your value and shouldn’t dictate your happiness. I know this is something easier said than done, but like anything, it takes practice to develop this type of mindset and the first step is always to develop an awareness for it. Focus on what you’re actually passionate about and that will naturally make you happier, more creative, and in turn improve your emotional and physical health.


Side note
: I do think that social media algorithms do have an important part in the world of e-commerce and running a business, which I’ve been exploring lately, but that is a different topic, which I will likely save for the next blog post. 🙂

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Human Perception, Media & Bubbles – Post Election Reflections

Photo: cargocollective.com

Note: This is not a post about politics or any of the candidates’ stance on things, but more about processing the events of yesterday and trying to understand more about human behavior.

Most of my blog posts are about audio, but yesterday’s elections was just so shocking that I had a physical reaction to the TV and felt a need to blog about it. When they were nearing the end of the electoral vote count, I started coughing, my nose started dripping, and I wanted to throw up but once the TV was turned off, my health returned back to normal and I passed out from exhaustion. I’ve never had such a strong physical reaction to something I saw on TV and I wasn’t hugely invested in the elections as I didn’t support either of the candidates, so I was surprised by my body’s reactions. And for those who read my blog, you probably have caught on to my tendency and need to analyze why things happen and the need to understand how things work the way they do. This is my attempt at rationalizing all the craziness and thoughts floating around in my head about these elections.

 

Your Bubble

The most shocking thing about yesterday’s events for me was how misinformed I was about America and how America actually felt about the state of things and the candidates. It felt like when you think you know a certain person only to find out that they are a completely different person. I honestly thought that the results from yesterday would have been flipped with Hillary winning in a landslide. I am back tracking my steps to see how I came to such a wrong conclusion as I have never predicted the outcome of something so wrongly before in my life. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that I naturally think everyone has a similar base perception of things and that others rationalize things in a similar way to me. I forget that everyone’s brains are wired differently and that each person possesses very different life experiences and backgrounds. We often surround ourselves with people who are similar or think similarly to ourselves, thus the saying, “birds of a feather flock together.” The problem with this is that your bubble’s point of view may be completely different from the vast majority point of view but since that is all you are exposed to, it becomes the justified and accepted view that you think everyone has. At least, that’s what I felt like happened in my situation. I knew there were others out there who supported Trump’s views but I didn’t know how widespread that sentiment was.

A lot of it we can see on social media as well. Like with Facebook for instance, it shows you things that they think you like or that you have similar viewpoints and perspectives to and that’s a big reason why their targeted ads are so effective. People like it when others agree with them, but often times that’s not the healthiest way to live and grow as a person. Conflict is never fun, but it’s important to have friends who are different from you and to not just cut them out from your life because they voted differently; it’s healthy to have people challenge your viewpoints and make you really think about things and why you believe the things you do. I think that Trump is also going to experience this when he goes into the White House and will have to learn to work with people that he may not like or have completely different stances on things with. It is why diversity is encouraged in the workplace because people with all the same ideas most likely won’t bring anything new to the table versus people with different perspectives and experiences may challenge how you think and create things. Though there has been a lot of division within this election, I think it’s important to accept the fact that people have different perspectives and values, which may be offensive to yours, but it is important to learn how to grow and work with these people who are different from you.  Sometimes the best things are created when this happens. I know it’s a hard road, but I think there is always hope to compromise to make things work.

 

The Media

Another thing that left me a bit perturbed was the media’s portrayal of the state of how each of the candidates were doing. A lot of the articles I read online were showing how Trump has a very little chance of winning or painting the picture of Hillary seemingly having a strong lead. Likewise with the polls as well, showing Hillary being up by however many points and how she clearly won the debates. Those were sentiments that I had tended to agree with so I didn’t think to question if this was actually a true reflection of how the vast majority of America felt, or more so just a collection of opinions of those that live within the west coast bubble. That is why there was such a big shock when I saw the actual numbers from the voters show something completely different. Nobody was expecting the turn out, both Democrats and Republicans, and I think it has a lot to do with how the media painted the story up to now. This is a bit scary because now I question a lot of my perceptions of things that were often times based on things that I assumed were true because it was portrayed in the news on TV, in a news article, or in some other form of the media. There is definitely a left wing bias in the entertainment business and with many artists, writers, etc., which could have affected how the media portrayed certain things. It felt like the media had also fallen prey to being stuck in their own bubble and was out of touch with the actual reality and state of the country we live in as well. Regardless, this really got me thinking about the validity of the things we learn from the media and how tainted by bias the information we receive is.

 

Perception

The last thing I want to talk about is perception. We often forget how important perception is. Sometimes it’s not the person who is the best (skills wise) at what they do who gets the job but the person who people perceive to be the most capable at what they do who gets it. I have seen this happen in a lot of job interviews. When I ask the person making the decision why they decided to go with one candidate over another, a common response is that they went with the person they felt the most comfortable and reassured with, the person that was the most confident about everything, creating the perception that they can handle anything that is thrown at them. The feeling that we get from someone really affects our perception of them. I think this is where Trump excelled. He understood the working class and how they felt about the country and was able to speak in a way that showed them that he cared and understood them and wanted to represent them. It may not matter how inexperienced he is in the political realm compared to Hillary, it is how he made the people he was targeting feel about addressing their concerns, making their opinions heard, and making their perception of “America great again.” He spoke in a way they could understand and develop a trust in him.

Human behavior is deeply affected by perception. We tend to value things more or less based on our perception. Thinking of the law of supply and demand, people often value things that are less in supply because the perception is that there must be a huge demand for it if there are only a couple left. The diamond business for example thrives on this. Even though there are many diamonds in the world, the amount available to be bought by consumers is very few in comparison, so we perceive diamonds as being rare gems that we would value greatly and pay a high price for because of it.

Our human behavior is affected by our perception of objects but also applies to our perception of humans as well. I remember before when I was contracting for music and sound design, I was super busy and would take on many clients at the same time. Word spread and I got a lot of referrals. When asked, I listed out some of the other clients I was working with at the time and they immediately asked if I had time for their small little project. I said of course, and they were still concerned and offered to pay a retainer fee. Flattered, I agreed to it. This basically meant that when it came time to work on their project, I had to be able to drop other things to finish their project. I realized that day that perception is hugely important in the industry and that ties directly into how someone develops a reputation.

So coming back to the topic of the election and tying things up, I think that my perception of Trump was deeply influenced by the bubble I’m in, the state I live in, the friends I have in real life and on social media, as well as the media. Of course I also developed my own views based on his words and actions, but a lot of this was based on the information I got from the media. I think that one thing that Trump has to work on if he is to try to unify America is to work on creating a positive perception from people not just from the working class people that he was targeting but many of the other minority groups that feel shafted based on his past words or actions. It is hard to rebuild your perception of someone as it is a bit like erasing a first impression. There needs to be trust developed first, but it is not impossible. I think for the rest of us, it is important to embrace those who have opposing views from us. I know some may think that they don’t want to have anything to do with people who hate a certain type of people or exclude them but you can’t really put fire out with fire. I think it’s important to be the bigger person and show love to those who maybe in our minds hate others or don’t deserve love. You can’t expect people to change if you constantly hate on them but if you approach them in a loving manner, it is easier for them to take in what you have to say and that is the beginning of reconciling differences and compromise. I definitely need to work on this myself, but that is what I hope I and other Americans can strive to do in the days to come.