Write Robinson began long before the days of Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest or Snapchat or Periscope or any of the other myriad platforms in which current conventional wisdom dictates I participate. In the beginning, my method of telling people about my work was through email or writing to them directly (imagine that, a stationery company actually writing to people on paper in the mail!). My online presence was cultivated by writing blog posts about stationery in general and my work in particular when I felt like it or by asking bloggers to review and write about my work. It was simple. And then social media happened.
Social media, for me, began as a way to meet people, talk to them, share my work and learn about theirs. I collaborated and commiserated with other designers. I learned and shared tips. Some of my earliest social media friends have become valued long-term customers and others became close, personal friends. At some point though, it all changed. Social media morphed into creating more and more content with no context of reality. It became about selling, selling, selling all the time with no concern for other people as people. It became about creating carefully stylized facades of perfection meant to promote the brand. And EVERYTHING is the brand. The brand is no longer the product and reputation or the experience of the company. The brand is now the owner as well and the owner’s children and their vacations and their home decor. Pretty soon we all had to have social media strategies and clever hashtags. I found myself not talking to people anymore. We weren’t being social. We were just scheduling humble brags about ourselves on a 24 hour loop. I only saw links to their websites and they only saw links to mine. I had enough. Get me off this crazy train.
So, I let it go for a month. I didn’t let it go consciously at first. I didn’t make a formal declaration or announcement. I just woke up one morning and knew that I didn’t want to post a damn thing. I didn’t want to take pictures for instagram. I didn’t want to write a Thought of the Day blog post. I didn’t want to find a reason to write a mundane tweet about how great my day was. I didn’t want to create or watch another Periscope live stream. I didn’t want to add to the noise. So I didn’t. And then, I didn’t do it the next day. It became easy to not do it.
Eventually a month went by with hardly a online peep from me. I talked to people when I wanted to. I commented on other people’s instagram posts when I felt compelled to if I opened the app at all. Twitter was just a means to communicate privately with my clients or participate in a chat or two. In the meantime, I designed for custom clients. I created more designs for the shop. I worked on my wholesale line sheet. I did the things that make me happy and build Write Robinson. I did not judge my daily success in likes, shares, and retweets.
I did not die. My world did not crumble. I didn’t feel left out. I didn’t feel uninformed. What I did feel was an overwhelming desire to STOP CREATING SOUND WITH NO RHYTHM. I realized during my month of creating no content that I had unwittingly joined the club that posted things just to post them with no real connection to my ultimate goal. I have always wanted to be a stationery designer and business owner. Period. I don’t want to be a motivational speaker. I don’t want to be an internet celebrity. I don’t want to go viral. I don’t want to publish my innermost thoughts online. I don’t want to buy things I don’t need in order to get unrealistic, styled photos of my stationery. Most importantly, I don’t want to “be the brand.” I want my work to speak for itself. I want my interactions with my customers to speak for the quality of my company. And from this moment forward, that is what I plan to do. I will do my best to remain true to myself and to the core of what I believe and to my creative spirit. When I write a post in this space or post a photo on instagram or wherever, I want there to be a clear intention behind it. I don’t want to clutter your day with more social media noise.
I had to give up social media to come back to what it truly means to be social.