The energy of social media

Social media has begun to frighten me. Songwriter Huckleberry Hastings talks candidly about his changing relationship to the online world.

Social media has begun to frighten me. When I was younger, and I say this fully comprehending that in the eyes of many I am no more than a child, I was fearless, bold, and unconcerned with portraying exactly who I was and how I felt through the means of social media.

This is for a multitude of reasons. The predominant one being that I am a songwriter, who approaches song writing as therapy. My lyrics are often intensely emotional, introspective and riddled with pain. I do not write to receive sympathy, I write to work through problems, so it is understandable that the image I have cultivated is one of a disturbed, sad lonely little boy engrossed by his own miserable little world.

Realistically, we all go through emotional distress, and we all deal with it in different ways, and my way of dealing with that side of my personality, is to write until it all makes sense to me and I’m able to move on.

When I was younger, I was unapologetic and unashamed of who I was. In fact, I was on many levels very proud of who I was. But I was living with blurred vision. It never occurred to me that at the end of the day… to put it simply, people have different tastes.

In my mind, if I am open and honest people will identify. This is certainly the case in some instances. In a pre-social media world, an opinion of somebody was based on human interaction. How we presented ourselves to each other in a physical sense, and the rapports we built would determine whether or not we took a liking to each other.

But in the current environment our identities are fragmented. Sectioned off into different pieces, different acts, different expressions of who we are. Who is Instagram Harrie? Do I express myself by curating a gallery of things I find interesting, or do I post picture after picture of myself the way I want to be perceived? Who is Facebook Harrie? Do I want to seduce the world with my sharp witty one-liners or would I prefer to share with the world the things that touch and inspire me?

It is such a complicated and powerful medium of expression and like any great tool depending on the hands that its in can be used or abused. I would like to note that I am entirely passionate about social media and social networking. I think that if we allow it, it opens us up to endless possibilities. Knowledge can be shared, friends can be made and beautiful memories can be accessed at the click of a button.

But the power of social media is such that sometimes it is better to ignore the channel and really soak in your opinions and let them stew with you. In this social media world even at the micro-level everyone holds some semblance of celebrity. Everyone is in the public eye, and whether you like it or not, people have opinions about “your life” or the life they see.

Where that used to thrill me it now fills me with an element of dread. As an artist it is important for me to have my work seen, heard or read, partly because I am on some level ambitious (on a good day) and partly as I want to touch people in the way that many artists have touched me.

But something I have developed, which I never thought I would, is a fear of judgement. It pains me very much to say it. I ruminate on it on a daily basis and I think that it all comes down to how I felt when I was younger.

It’s important to be bold, and true to yourself but I think it is also important to really think about what you want to say. Is what you are sharing or expressing necessary? Is it helpful and congruent with who you are as a person or are you seeking some semblance of validation?

The energy of the digital world creates neurosis within the most stable of people, where likes equal worth and followers equal friends. It’s important to remember that you have nothing to prove to your social network. Everyone is different, and the right people will appreciate you for your honesty.

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