Since the early days of July, I’ve been thinking so much about my online experience and the need for some radical changes. There was, and still are, multiple reasons behind this. But a surprising coincidence helped me to clear my head.
On August 7th, I’ve published the 200th issue of the Turkish newsletter about media, internet and journalism I write called “n okuyoruz|”. Which was an important milestone for me, mainly because it turned out one of the most consistent things I created online.
Then, on August 9th, Kai Brach published the 200th issue of Dense Discovery newsletter, which is not just one of my favorite ones out there but the one I also made an appearance thanks to Kai’s kind invitation. It felt like a nice coincidence but things didn’t end with it. On August 13th, Jay Springett published the 200th episode of his podcast Permanently Moved. (I’ve mentioned him and his work multiple times but if you’re still not following his blog and podcast, fix that now.)
Now it was more than a coincidence. All the things I’ve been thinking about creating online, working in public, the situation of the social media platforms started to make even more sense.
For some reason, the mainstream understanding of the online creator generally means accounts with lots of followers on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. There are some obvious reasons for this shift (such as advertisers and platform monopolies) but this also means that almost all of the conversations you see online about being a creator, or simply someone who wants to do things on the internet solely focuses on the analytics, advertisement and algorithms. Meaning that people who wants to create anything online should constantly worry about pleasing the platforms, advertisers and algorithms.
This is the point where you end up with heated discourses forgotten in two days, trends that intoxicate people and posts forgotten in hours until you make a group of internet users really angry. But when you leave this cycle, you can find deep archives you can lose yourself inside, like the ones I mentioned above.
I believe that if you want to create things online in a consistent and sustainable way, you have to stop caring about social media platforms and its demands.
There are several reasons why I believe this is the case.
First of all, making these platforms the center of your creative process means that the things you want to create will not be your priority. Instead, you have to think about what platform and its algorithm demands from you and how you have to make sure that what you create is advertiser friendly. Spending your time and energy to make sure whatever you’re doing is “safe” means that experimenting, following new ideas or expanding your horizon is off the table. You have to follow very strict directions and if it’s not the “new hot trend” on the platform, you have to stick with what you already have.
This is one of the main reasons why we read articles or watch videos like these. Being stuck in this situation is harmful for you in many ways. Unless you have some protective measures —such as platform independent support or additional incomes— ıt’s hard to escape from it.
Another one is that the platform mechanism forces you to give the audience more importance than it deserves. I’m not saying that in an edgy artistic way but more in the sense of how these platforms actually work.
These platforms put numbers on top of everything, especially the follower counts. This simply means that you have to work on finding new ways to gaining more followers and making your content more visible. But this dynamic makes the audience think that you have to do what they say and always create in a way that makes them happy. Because that’s what platforms teaches to them. As a result, you might end up with some really crazy people who thinks that an old item from a video game not returning back is a perfectly good reason to send death threats to the developers.
That’s why the recent Cory Doctorow article “So You’ve Decided to Unfollow Me” is the perfect antidote for this. Because these platforms forces you to put everything into a single profile while giving the followers no way to filter what they want to see. This situation, combined with the audience thinking that you must follow what they say, creates a pressure that’s hard to handle. And if you gave into it, that pressure will crash you.
You have to free yourself from this logic. The best way for that is to openly draw the line that needs to be drawn. Making this distinction open and clear is an important first step both for the people who interacts with you but also for yourself. If you don’t, the pressure will always hang over your head because people will assume otherwise.
That’s why this part of Cory Doctorow’s article has become one of my mottos:
“I relish the freedom of writing exactly what I want to write, and the freedom to read exactly what I want to read. If it’s too much work for you to pick out the stuff of mine that appeals to you, that is one hundred percent fine. I am not required reading. No one is.”
Saying this out loud and making it a part of your approach to the relationship you have with social media platforms is an important first step to break out of this pressure. It’ll not just help you to get back some freedom but can also help with the algorithmic anxiety we all deal with.
Right now, I’m in the process of adjusting myself to this new concept and building the base blocks of it. Alongside with the things I noted earlier, another piece which influenced this stream of thoughts and development of this new personal concept of creating and working online was Jay’s recent podcast episode titled 10 Tips For Creating Online. I highly recommend you to listen and read it.
During this process, one thing I want to achieve is to find my rhythm and start working with it. Since this process is also going in sync with some of my other plans such as Project Lunar Growl, it might take some time. But in the end (hopefully sometime around the next couple months) I’m planning to be in a position in which I’m creating more and working mainly on the things I actually want to.
If you’d like to join the ride, keep an eye around here.
All my work published here and on my newsletter is supported by the readers. If you want to become a regular supporter of my work and help me create more, you can visit my Patreon. If you prefer to give me a one-time donation you can do that over my Buy Me A Coffee page. Thanks!