Open your digital door
Embracing an online presence is essential
Nobody trusts an entity that they can’t find personally or professionally online.
Do you remember when it was cool to be mysterious; to not show up to the party; to leave something to the imagination?
Centuries ago, the Renaissance brought us from the Dark Ages into a bright new era of modern thought, modern art and modern technology.
In the 2000s, we are participating in another renaissance — formerly creatures of mystery, humans have been reborn into an age of social omnipresence, as a product of social media.
You may be thinking, “Here we go — another hipster millennial whining about the defining characteristics of her generation.” Au contraire. I believe it is time for us to embrace social media for the gift that it is, especially at a time when decidedly vicious job markets are pushing more and more young people into entrepreneurship and self-employment.
In our vibrant city of Hamilton, the culture of creative and business independents is thriving and growing.
When Facebook was in its infancy, I had a distinctly love-hate relationship with any type of social media. I likely have a few unattended accounts floating in the Internet ether — a partially constructed MySpace, a Tumblr with no blog entries — and as for Facebook itself, I opened and deleted accounts for a few years before becoming a stable participant in 2010.
Before then, I was uncomfortable with the blatantly voyeuristic feel of Internet profiles.
However, as with any other controversial novelty, with familiarity comes the neutralization of contempt. The more I have accepted that social media just is, the more I have come to appreciate, and vocally support, its attributes.
Presently, in the realm of young independent professionals, eschewing social media out of fear of overexposure is far more harmful than it is self-protective.
I believe that any of those pursuing independent career goals are placing themselves in a position of significant disadvantage by clinging to the notion that veils of mystery are still valuable.
They aren’t. Nobody trusts an entity that they can’t find personally or professionally online.
It is expected that any functioning person with a healthy social life and aspirations, and any moderately successful business that exists as part of a community — in other words, the one we want to support — has a social media presence. Those without will be dismissed as underdeveloped and amateur.
I, personally, am far less likely to try a new restaurant that does not have a presence in the triangle of social media heavyweights: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Social media equals branding, and for independent professionals, personal identity is their brand.
This is why my Instagram account is set to “open,” and many, though not all, of the posts that can be found on my Twitter or Instagram are also publicly accessible on my personal Facebook page.
Five years ago, I would have considered it self-indulgent and tacky to have my social media posts visible to the public, as though I had left my front door open for any random passersby to take a tour of my life. Now, however, I believe it to be smart and advantageous.
The more I leave my door open, the more doors will open for me. The more my community recognizes me, the more opportunities their recognition will provide. As an independent artist and writer, there is nobody else responsible for my success except for me, and so vigorous self-promotion is a necessity. Perhaps, had the great creative minds of history had access to social media, they wouldn’t have had to wait for death for their work to go viral.
Laura Furster is an independent fine artist, literary writer and journalist living in downtown Hamilton. She can be found on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, and at laura-furster.com