Facebook offers unprecedented personal and professional benefits for creative people. It also harbors some costs…especially for those prone to procrastination and susceptible to distractions or information addiction. This article is especially for creative people who haven’t yet taken the Facebook plunge, those new to Facebook and those who aren’t using Facebook to their full advantage.
When I joined Facebook, I did so kicking and screaming, forced into it by a several work projects. (If you’d like to read more about my particular entry into the FB universe, please read my story in my co-authored book Happiness Awaits You). Since establishing my profile, I’ve been astonished by the experience, particularly the challenges and benefits it holds for creative people. Here are some:
Costs of Facebook for the Creative Person
1. Privacy Issues
There’s good reason to be concerned with privacy issues on Facebook. Unless you take specific actions to adjust your privacy settings, everything you post on FB you risk sharing information with the entire cyber universe. Once published — like anything on the internet — this information NEVER goes away. The potential costs are enormous and frightening. It can be a challenge to sort out the correct privacy setting for creative people who don’t have the patience or inclination to fuss with technological settings — but it’s well worth doing so. If the task is too onerous or overwhelming, ask a tech-savvy friend to help you.
2. Copyright Issues
These are the biggest potential costs: creative people need to be very careful about posting their ideas and work on Facebook. Whatever you post on FB, they claim the rights to — including visual arts, photography, images of creative works in any medium and music. So instead of posting your work directly on Facebook, post it on your own website first. Then, when you want to share something with your FB friends, just post links to the relevant places on your website. (If you haven’t already, be sure to put a copyright notice on your website’s footer).
If you don’t yet have a website, consider changing that. These days it’s quick, easy and inexpensive to put up your own website — and what better way to present your creative works? (Weebly is a good place for non-techies to get started).
3. Risk of Distraction & Procrastination
If you’re easily distracted or prone to procrastination, Facebook presents profound personal costs to your creativity and productivity. Your News Feed provides a constant, unending stream of ‘what’s new’ with people. “Oh, I’ll just take a moment to see what’s on my newsfeed’ can turn into hours of following random threads of information. Then there are the ‘friend requests’ and ‘messages’ to send and receive — never mind the ‘events’, ‘birthdays’, ‘page suggestions’ and ‘notifications’ you will receive. Given all that’s going on, it’s not surprising that some of us find ourselves ‘checking in’ many, many times a day. Alas, excessive Facebooking can stall your creative work, interrupt your progress and otherwise interfere with your creativity. If you find this happening — if you find yourself becoming a FB addict –you’ll need to impose some limits on your FB time.
So given these costs, why on earth would any creative person join Facebook? Because the benefits — personally and professionally — are many and profound.
Benefits of Facebook for Creative People
1. Connecting with other humans.
The creative life can be insulated and isolated. Through Facebook, you can connect with as many people as you’d like. You can reconnect with people from your past — who have you lost contact with? Who have been the ‘gems’ in different chapters of your life? You can probably find them on FB — wherever they are in the world. You can rekindle and deepen friendships. You can make amends and reconcile as needed. You can forgiven and be forgiven, if you so desire.
You can also use Facebook to find brand new friends and colleagues. As you are interacting with people in cyberspace, you’ll find you hit it off with certain people — or that some folks will like your contributions and request to be your Facebook friend.
For most humans, this cyber chitchat is fun! It can be a source of happiness, relationship and community — all of which feels pretty darned good.
2. Networking with other creative people — finding your tribe.
Most importantly, Facebook is the best way I know to find and connect with other creative people. If you’re a business person, LinkedIn is probably better — but there’s something about the nature of FB that attracts and fosters multi-talented, creative folks like you. Enjoy it! Take advantage. Commiserate. Find a mentor. Mentor someone else. There’s no better source of creativity and creative support than other multi-talented people. Find ’em and friend ’em.
As you interact with your creative friends, you will find yourself awash in a 24/7 stream of inspiration: people share their accomplishments, their struggles, their work and whatever they find interesting.
You can also find and follow your creative heroes — ‘Like’ their official fan page and/or ‘follow’ their blog to receive updates on what’s happening with them. (We encourage you to ‘like’ our FB page and to ‘follow’ our blog by clicking on that button on our ‘blog’ tab).
All of this feeds your own creativity — go ahead, take a notion or image from your FB News Feed and use it as a seed to sprout your own creative works.
4. Creative support.
If you need something, you can send up a flare. Maybe you’d like other people’s opinions on your book jacket. Perhaps you’d like feedback on a rough cut of your short film. Maybe you’re stuck on a plot point and need a nudge. Whatever creative support you require, if you ask, you can probably find it on Facebook.
5. Get information you might miss elsewhere.
I’m a recovering news junkie and yet every day (if not every hour) on Facebook, I receive articles or information I would have missed otherwise. It’s like every FB friend you have is scouring the internet on your behalf. It’s such an efficient way of receiving news, it might just reduce your dependency on traditional news outlets.
It’s also a more personal, personalized way of receiving the news. I wasn’t interested in watching any of the World Cup, for example…but for me it was much more interesting to follow the action through the posts of my FB friends.
While Facebook has its downsides, if approached prudently, it offers many potential rewards to creative, multi-talented people. In the second part of this article, we’ll discuss Best Practices — how you can get the most out of Facebook while avoiding its pitfalls. The third article in this series will cover more advanced Facebook techniques.
Activity: Are you on Facebook? Are you protecting yourself from its pitfalls — and taking advantage of its benefits?
Activity: Turn to Part Two of this article, in which we’ll discuss Best Practices for operating on Facebook.
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