cartoon of me carrying a bindle and riding a mastodon

 

What’s up?

I made the decision to severely cut my social media involvement in February 2020. I knew what i wanted to do, but not how. It’s November and i finally have it all together. I made this post to explain that:

  • I will no longer receive notifications or check messages/likes/whatever on any social platform except Mastodon & Patreon
  • I will still update Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, but this will be achieved by a crossposting app and not because i am actively monitoring those accounts
  • Why i am doing this, because i don’t have the spoons to explain all of this stuff to everyone who asks me

Some of my reasons might seem like they’d only be truly served by deleting my accounts. That’s true, but i am grateful for and flattered by every person who enjoys my art, and i don’t want to deprive anyone of something that brightens their day. ❥

If you’re the kind of person who feels like they’re being attacked when someone else has opinions, grab something soft to squeeze. Then read this paragraph like, six times. Please understand that i am talking about me, about my reasons for switching to minimum involvement. I’m not judging you. We all have our own reasons for which platforms we use. My mom still uses Facebook, and i’m obviously not going to trash on her–she’s marvelous. (Hi Mom!) 

Social Anxiety

I have moderate to severe anxiety over responding to messages. Therapy and experiments have strongly suggested that it doesn’t seem to matter how many messages–only how many places they come from. Limiting the “inboxes” is the alternative to moving into a remote cabin in the Yukon and wiping my butt with felted bear fur.

illustration of outhouse + a bear with a bald butt going "rawr!"

I Prefer Open Source

I have always been a proponent of open source projects. When i can, i use them, and if i have the means, i donate. Sometimes i don’t even use them, but still donate!

If you’ve heard the phrase “open source” but you’re not really clear what it means, or you think it just means “free stuff,”  please take a minute to learn about it. 

Open source and other data-sharing and crowd-sourcing behaviors are one of the few reasons that i don’t think humanity should be yeeted straight into Europa’s freezing-ass taint. 

animation clip from Futurama of Fry holding out a fistful of dollars and saying "shut up and take my money!"

F U C K  N A Z I S

Corporate-owned social media sites encourage white supremacists and other contentious groups to participate because they increase “engagement.” In their ToS the site will disclaim it, but in practice, they are loathe to actually ban such activity.

The First Amendment is about the government allowing free speech, not private corporations profiting off of volatile bigotry. This isn’t a free speech issue; it’s absolutely about making money, and outrage makes them a lot of money. Merely scrolling past the ads on these platforms is generating revenue for them, and… 

I. just. can’t.

cartoon of Twitter mascot ordering me to argue so it can make more money

[ETA] Nipples

You know exactly what i’m talking about, Tumblr. 

But seriously, social media platforms love selling ad space to companies who attack the female body image. Not thin enough, not smooth enough, not light enough, etc. They’re quite happy to tell women how impossible their bodies should be. And while what’s considered “obscene” is a complex topic, i’m not comfortable with Western, primarily American, parameters as the default.

The standard that nude photography/drawings can be art until a nipple is visible a woman’s nipple is visible is what i personally consider obscene. The only difference between male and female nipples is that occasionally a baby sucks milk out of some of the female nipples. If that is sexual to someone, i don’t want to be on their side in like… anything. Wtf?!

Humans Shouldn’t Be Products

I also can’t ignore companies making humans into commodities, encouraging them to use all their real information in a viewable, sellable, hackable format. The numerous negative effects are well-documented if you care to search for them, but here’s a selfish one that should bother everyone: identity theft is increasing. I dunno, using your full name/birthday/high school/job and being publicly linked with people who have your mother’s maiden name, all in one easy shopping location for grifters, has never seemed like a wise plan to me? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

To be honest, though, the worst part for me is the algorithm sharpening its claws on our personal posts so it can more effectively market to us. This constant refining of the ad machine results in people posting something they need their friends to know, and those friends not seeing it. I’ve missed the deaths of pets, diagnoses of cancer, suicidal ideation, and other really important moments in friends’ lives because they trusted that everyone following them would see what they said, and well… we didn’t.

cartoon of the Facebook and Instagram logos discussing how to make money off of people in distress

The socially irresponsible decisions made by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, etc. weigh on me. I don’t believe in the culture they’re creating, and i definitely don’t want to leave that garbage festival behind for the kids i love, so it’s important to me that i try not to support that behavior. My decision will probably hamper my success, because artists and writers are now expected to do a bunch of PR or no one will find their work, but i’d rather starve a little than stop fighting against this putrid machine. 

 

So why are you using this Mastodon thing?

Mastodon is not perfect, but it is the best option i’ve found so far. 

The big reasons are that it is decentralized (no one “owns” it) and it doesn’t necessitate preying on its users’ privacy for funding. There are myriad other reasons that Mastodon is a great system to support, and since they do a good job selling themselves, i’ll let them (relax it’s like 2 minutes): 

Mastodon officially is anti-Nazi. Because it’s open source software, of course some Nazis have tried to use it. You can read about how that worked out for them here. (TL;DR: servers–called “instances”–that allow white supremacists to shriek their filthy clickbait garbage don’t get listed and most other instances block them).

It’s not for everyone, as this op-ed points out. Then again, if you are someone whose identity is political whether you want it to be or not (like, oh say, a pansexual genderqueer in a 2-decade-long same-sex relationship), don’t you want the option to socialize without constantly being reminded that there are very loud gun-toting assholes hoping for civil war so they can murder you for sport? My adrenal glands are withered husks at this point!

No other social network has such a slick “content warning” tool or the community culture that uses & values it.  If you’re a minority like me, maybe Mastodon isn’t a “safe” space, but it’s certainly a calmer, more respectful one, and bonus, no one is making money off of people threatening to kill us.

Maybe some day i’ll feel differently about all of this, but for now, you can add me on Mastodon @inkshark@mastodon.art, you can e-mail me at gutterkitty|@|inkshark%.)net, or if you want to be a patron of the arts for as little as $1/mo, you can join my Patreon.  ❥

Talent versus Skill

When someone walks up to an artist, looks at their work, and exclaims, “You’re so talented!” they mean to compliment the artist. But it’s important to pay attention to our words and the impact they have. 

Talent is something you’re innately better at than the average person.

Skill is an ability you’ve studied and practiced until you are better at it than the average person.

Many artists do have talent–it’s why they bothered to develop skill. If you notice you’re good at something and you’re proud of it, it makes sense that you’ll be drawn to it.

But complimenting someone on their talent is much like complimenting them on something else they were born with, like their eye color. You’ll never be as satisfied by someone saying, “Wow, i’m impressed by how beautiful your eyes are” as you will by someone saying, “Wow, i’m impressed at how well you can play soccer/write code/draw the human figure.”

It’s also more complex, of course, because there isn’t a way for you to learn to make your eye color even better. But if there was, if you could learn to change the color like an octopus or a chameleon, then wouldn’t it be even weirder for someone to say, “The eye color you started with is so impressive!” It even implies that the work you put in isn’t nearly as impressive as the talent you started with.

Continue reading “What is the difference between talent and skill?”