I jumped on Pinterest yesterday to look for new art making techniques—and three hours later I tore my eyes away from my computer screen in misery. I may have pinned all kinds of amazing ideas and inspiration (I did), but despite the strange pull to find more/see more/pin more, I felt the opposite of inspired. I felt dejected.
My friends say they have the same problem. Not just from Pinterest, but from the internet in general.
When you really start looking around, the place is a freakin’ playground for the inner critic.
You can’t do all of that! Look at all those people! They’re more talented than you…more motivated…more inspired…more creative…more original…
There is so much information and so many people making such great art of all kinds, it’s totally overwhelming.
So what are we to do with that?
I know some people who just stop (or never start). They don’t search out learning or inspiration. They put their heads down, lead their lives and only jump on the internet when necessary (because who doesn’t need an address or a LinkedIn contact now and then?)
They basically squeeze their eyes shut and put their fingers in their ears (“La la la I can’t hear you..”). They don’t want to know what’s out there.
The crazy awesomeness of the internet
But you know what? As I sat with my Pinterest hangover last night (which is what it felt like), I thought about the crazy awesomeness of the internet. In just a handful of years, it’s opened up our lives—even those of us who don’t use it much, because our world is being transformed by people sharing knowledge and ideas and learning—which creates more knowledge and ideas and learning.
And the sharing happens not just in reams of static text blocks, but in interactive words, vibrant images and full color video…
...Suddenly, a memory. I’m about six or seven years old and my best friend Katrina knocks on the door. I throw open the door and she rushes in dressed in her pjs. “Has it started yet?”
We run to sit cross-legged on the floor in front of our new color console television in the family room. The commercial is just ending and the big MGM lion roars. Finally, what we’ve been waiting for days and days to see, The Wizard of Oz, begins.
In black and white.
I turned to my mom, questioning for a moment, but she put her finger to her lips. Shh, just wait. And then…after Somewhere Over the Rainbow and that mean busy body on a bike who took Toto away in her basket, and that terrible tornado that sent the farmhouse careening through the heavens (and by now we’re glued to the screen), Dorothy opened the door…
And we gasped at the living color of Munchkinland!
Slam the door shut on that?
I for one can’t think of it.
The internet can be a scary place
Yes, for all it’s connected, living color glory, the crazy awesomeness of the internet and it’s multiple (multiple) corners poses risks. (I refuse to go further with the Oz metaphor—nope, not mentioning the Wicked Witch of the West or the East).
The unleashing of the inner critic, as I mentioned, is one of the risks. No matter what you’re interested in, business or hobby, you can compare yourself to more people than ever and find yourself less than—which is baloney, but I’ll leave that problem aside for a moment to enumerate all the other potential internet negatives:
- Time suck
- Loss of focus
- Attention deficits
- Multi-tasking hell
- Relationship damage
- Degraded social skills
Oh, and what about all the garbage sites and trolls?
I say: so what!
Just like every invention under the sun, it’s up to us how we use it. Sure, we can gorge on content until we’re bloated and catatonic (like I felt last night). Or, we can surf ourselves silly, consuming on dumb content that makes us stupid. Or we can swear off all internet contact whatsoever.
Or we can be inspired. We can learn and we can grow.
With renewed energy this morning I see now that it all comes down to choice. What the internet gives us is total control and choice over what information we consume and for what purpose.
For those of us who want to create stuff, it is up to us to choose how we use the internet to further our own art-making. Yes, it can be overwhelming, but now we have access to ideas, inspiration and learning that just wasn’t available before.
In case you haven’t noticed, this small corner of the web is bursting with innovation, not just in art —which is amazing—but in concepts about what art has to offer.
Have you found them?
All the people who are creating stuff and sharing it on the web and talking about how creativity has changed their lives? People like me who never considered themselves artists before? People who have always been artists, but never shared their art with anyone before, but now their lives are bursting with it?
The internet did this. Is doing it. The arting party is now open to everyone—you, too—because more of us see (in living color) that we are all, truly, creative beings.
But first you have to open your eyes, take your fingers out of your ears—and look.
Next time: Tips for moving from looking to doing: how to use the internet to enrich your art making
Or go to my "Art Journals" board on Pinterest here.