Most people, especially those we might consider to be technophobes, would scoff at the notion of social media as art. Yet, if we define art as self-expression, posting is the new painting. Years ago, an artist would create a work of art–be it a painting, a story, a sculpture, or any other medium of self-expression–but find great difficulty in distributing that art. Now, with the advent of social media, production and promotion are one in the same.
You are what you tweet
The messages you send out about yourself–be they Tweets, Facebook status updates, Foursquare check-ins, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, etc.–are an expression of who you are. Tweeting that you love your boyfriend is an expression of the joy you are experiencing in your relationship with him. Uploading a video of you playing with your kids expresses how you value your family. Checking into church signals your religious affiliation. You are your content. What are you creating?
I link; therefore, I am
Social media isn’t just about you and your content, though. It’s about the external content that you identify with. It’s about the “Retweets”, the “Shares” and the “Stumbles.” It’s about what you link. This, too, is an expression of who you are. When you high-five other content, you are signaling that you share the same values. You are what you share. What are you passing along?
Follow the leader
Miguel de Cervantes said:
“Tell me what company thou keepest, and I’ll tell thee what thou art.”
With social media, we express ourselves by revealing who we associate with. Who do we “Friend?” Who do we “Follow?” Who do we “Circle?” Community is a huge part of how people interpret themselves as individuals. Social media, if anything, is all about community. You are who you connect with. Who are you following?
Social media is a platform for art. Now, more easily than ever, you can tell the world who you are. A word of caution, though, for businesses as well as for individuals: you are expressing yourself whether you like it or not. Social media can be either an opportunity or a threat. If your art is degrading, offensive, or embarrassing, you are telling the world that that is who you are. On the other hand, you are also sharing your identity if you are supportive and insightful.
So, ask yourself, “Who am I?” Now, take a look at your Twitter feed. Does it match? If not, maybe you’re not who you think you are. You don’t merely create your art; you ARE your art.