This is a question that has been running around my brain since Inspirefest 2019 back in May. Anil Dash spoke about The Web We Make and it’s one of those talks that I keep coming back to in different ways.
If you are a knitter/crafter/maker then you probably have an Instagram account as it allows you to share what you make in a visual medium with the world. Trends within the community follow the “props” of Instagram and often finished pieces obtain more likes than in-process shots.
In a world where indie makers rely on the use of social media to share their small businesses with the world, I’m often pulled in differing directions of thought. We as indie makers need social platforms to share our work, meet new people but also to connect. We follow the trends of our chosen platform and often fall into the linear posting; posting at a time our analytics tells us to, use variations of posts that trend well, using filters that our audience likes so that we can keep people engaged and hitting those like buttons.
But what happens if we stop and think about our content?
The problem with this is how fast-paced our ‘slow making’ has become. The need for content to go out so that we feel seen but the problem with this is we are feeding the platform and the circle continues with the feeling like this is very much out of our hands. Maintenance more than creation. But if everyone in the world stopped posting, the likes of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter grind to a halt.
The very nature of handmade is slow. It’s meant to take time and you are meant to enjoy the process not stressed into creating to have content to post. We have all been stressed to meet craft deadlines either as gifts or knit-along deadlines etc. but it’s a different kind of stress.
As a maker, I enjoy the process of working with wool or paint. I enjoy the new experiences of different yarns and paints/pens. Running a blog and podcast did dull the enjoyment for me but pulling back, reassessing and meeting people in person helped to remind me what I love about being a maker.
And so this thought process leads me to wonder about the necessity of posting and taking back control of slow making, not the shiny Instagram trendy images of ‘slow’ but posts of what we love and why we love it.
It’s not a platform like Instagram’s fault either. We as a community choose what we post, we create that hype, we control the conversations that we have. They created the space and we brought it to where we are but are we creating for exposure, for enjoyment, for the community, for business? How do we as community leaders take back control of our making? Does the frequency of posting cause us to belittle our own creations?
What is the true meaning behind the posts that go out online?
This is a question that I’ve thought behind any post that someone has sent me over the years. How well crafted posts that draw on an emotional response urge us to connect and evoke feelings of love, joy, anger and have us commenting, sharing and hitting that like button in minutes. Often that like button isn’t even truly representative of our actual feelings on the post either, it’s our only option to react without a comment/share.
If you started reading this post looking for an answer then I’m sorry, I haven’t come to a conclusion myself. In one way I feel like the constant stream of content devalues how much goes into each and every piece we make and yet without social media, there is a whole community online that would never have met, never felt supported; whole businesses that wouldn’t/couldn’t exist, whose joy would never have been passed on.
What we chose to connect with online, what we chose to share, be it our own content or reposts of others, has never been more important. By adding our voice to it we feed those platforms and in doing so we shape the future of our community. Whole businesses rise and fall from what we share and post.
If you ever sat back and thought “what’s the point?” or “I’m going to leave this platform” and you follow through. Your voice, one that matters is then silenced from the conversations. Your voice could be the voice of reason, it’s important but I think we could all be more mindful about how we create online.
When you take out your phone to post today, take two minutes to think about what and why you are posting and what it’s effect will be on our community.