My last few posts have touched on how incredibly hard it is to be a creator these days, but there’s a part of it I haven’t talked about yet, and that’s the extra level of difficulty that exists for people who aren’t mentally or socially suited to the way a creator’s life has to be right now, and why we need to change that.
If you’ve read my other posts, especially the one about how creators are stretched too thin, you’ll have an idea of what I’m about to get into. If you don’t want to read that piece, let me try to summarize: Creators can’t just be creators anymore. Like it or not, we’ve been forced to not only get inspired and create whatever it is we do, but we have to learn and master Google, social media, SEO, content platforms, payment platforms, taxes, laws, and a slew of other things. Try to imagine any small business, 20 or so employees that make everything work, and realize that a modern creator needs to be all of them. Now, if that doesn’t sound hard enough, try to imagine facing all of that when you’re neurodivergent, disabled, or an introvert.
The social media aspect of being successful today is one of the hardest parts. One of the things that’s killed my desire to create, and hampered my business, is the need to be on social media if you want success. I’m an introvert, I have anxiety issues, I process differently, and I’m honestly kind of a misanthrope. I tried doing social media, but it caused me so much stress and pain. I had literal breakdowns that took hours or even days to recover from. (There are actually studies out there which show that using social media to promote a business reduces creativity, and increases stress and depression.) I want to just say “I did a thing today” and put a link, but that doesn’t convert well. I’ve never been able to figure out how to cater to the audience and gain social popularity.
I may be able to write well, but I take a long time to do it. I have all the time I want to process it, revise it, re-read it, and make it what I want. I do things long-form, too, I’m not into fast and frequent anything. I don’t know how to make 140 characters grab you and keep you riveted. I don’t know how to make my work be about you. I don’t know how to cater to the world’s narcissism and make my product descriptions give you feelings or do videos that make you like me. I want to do my work, have you like my work, and have you buy my work. That’s it. If somehow you get to know me and like me, that’s great. I’m actually a pretty awesome person, despite my oddities, or maybe because of them. I don’t care about eyes on me though, and I don’t know how to make everything I do put you at the center of it all like so many article have said I’m supposed to do.
As far as I’m concerned, none of us should have to engage with the social media machine. We shouldn’t have to be a “people person” or contribute to “me culture.” An introvert or neurodivergent person has just as much value as anyone else. We can create wondrous things. We deserve to get paid. Unfortunately, today’s culture has put us in a position where we either suck it up and flaunt ourselves on Instagram, while posting clever tweets, and running an OnlyFans on the side, or face obscurity and poverty. It’s a broken system, and honestly, many of us simply can’t fit into it. As a result, our work goes unseen, and we sink into poverty and depression. Our dreams get crushed by a system we never asked to be forced into.
Sadly, a lot of people out there (and I’ve met too many of them in my years as a creator) think you should “just” get with the program and “just” do what you’ve got to do. They make social media sound easy. They act like figuring out how to “engage your audience” is something we can all do naturally. They act like you’re defective if you can’t master Insta-perfection or develop a rabid TikTok following. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re not all wired that way. We don’t all fit that mold. We don’t all have the wealth necessary to hire someone to do our social media for us, either.
For many of us, our love of creating, and our dreams of success at doing what we love, are being slowly suffocated under the weight of these requirements. Being found is a struggle on the best of days, and a near impossibility for many of us. So many of us either can’t engage with people successfully online, don’t want to, or both. Every day we face the harsh reality of never being known, because people who like social media made it that way. And that’s not even taking into account all the other things we’re forced to try to learn and master, that we may have no interest in, or simply be incapable of understanding or utilizing.
I’m not sure how to change any of this. I do know that if you like someone’s work, especially someone who’s not a shiny-happy-people-person, you should help them promote. Talk about them, share their work, do whatever you can to help them gain recognition without forcing them to interact with people themselves. Help them learn the skills they need to succeed. Realize that we don’t all work the same way, but people with different minds or abilities deserve success just as much as anyone else. We probably want it more. Beyond that, we really need to get away from the me-centric social media world. No person’s success should depend on their Twitter following. No one should starve because they’re not pretty enough for Instagram, or don’t want to get on Twitch. A creator’s work shouldn’t have to focus on you or make you feel good. We shouldn’t have to make you like us, or be masters of skills we can’t get our heads around.
There should be room for all of us. There needs to be room for all of us. Maybe someone will make a platform where differently-abled and neurodivergent people can offer their work, pay a reasonable fee, and have the SEO, promotion and “people-ing” done by folks who rock at it and love it, so the rest of us can just do what we love, and make an honest living at it.