In the early 90s, I had a little page at an online community and figured it was a great way to meet people around the world, be self-expressive and broaden my horizons. Instead, I received an inappropriate request from a guy on Wall St. (or so he said) who worked in mergers and acquisitions. It was the first warning of the internet not being the most fun place to be.
The internet has been a wonderful catalyst for grief. From a parent who is occasionally extremely angry about my creativity/individuality on anything I post to, to finding out I'm being cheated on ad infinitum.
I've fielded communication from strangers, a couple of stalkers, anonymous emails/texts from people who think that just because I'm accessible online means they can invade my privacy and ask whatever they want or project their crap on me. The best way and most fun I've ever had dealing with stalkers is stalking them right the fuck back (hello, Ryan and Colleen).
As for the the vanity of my site, I wanted a place where everything I work on exists with a glimpse of personality. I like that there aren't any likes or comments because there's not a sense of external validation. It's a little uncomfortable when I see people liking or commenting on a picture of me elsewhere and in the big scheme of things, I don't care for their opinion but social media makes you want to care. I ask myself, "Why am I posting this? What do I want?" which usually results in not posting or deleting the post sometime after. The psychology behind obsessive selfies is also very, very negative.
I'm a serial Instagram account deleter. Before deleting my previous IG account, I went person by person and found a solid chunk of the followers were bogus, random overseas accounts which were barely used or used only once or sketchy private accounts following a bunch of people but with few followers. Occasionally, I'll block bogus follower accounts. But the more followers you have, the more popular you appear, the more "organic" interaction you'll have. Smoke and mirrors. Someone could be a complete piece of shit but hey, as long as they have a lot of followers, they must have value.
Recently, I stopped following anybody on Instagram because I started seeing people's behavior patterns I otherwise wouldn't experience in person. Their obsessiveness with certain body types or features. Bigotry. Violence. Anti-Semitism. It was too much information.
My agent had me take over their account in February and it has been growing steadily. I received a message from a mother of a blurry image and the caption, "Hi. I'm so and so. I'm a 7 year old boy. What do you think?" Creepy. I wrote back that I couldn't see anything because the account the photo was posted from was hidden. Once she made it public, I understood and had to gently put her off from trying to land her son an agent via social media. People want to throw their kids into acting and they don't understand the business, the repercussions of it and maybe they want validation out of it, too. I wanted to ask her, "How's your son with rejection? Does he understand he's not special and will he be okay walking into a room where there are 20 other boys who look exactly like him? Will he crumble in a group audition when another kid is performing better than him? Can he work on set for hours a day with strangers telling him what to do and do the same thing over and over again without throwing a fit?"
Technology is also training us to be disposable and lazy. Don't like your phone, TV, or significant other? Trash 'em and get an upgrade. Keep upgrading until you get exactly what you want. Until you get perfection. YOU can have the perfect thing that responds in the way YOU desire, in a way that makes YOU comfortable. You don't have to work hard for anything because something better exists and it's tangible and it's easy and it's not messy. YOU no longer need to experience discomfort. It's all about YOU.
It's important to have self-esteem and confidence without external validation. Otherwise, you lose a sense of individuality and when things get tough, you'll have the courage to do what's right rather than fall in line.
Anyway. I'm currently reading "CONSUMED" by Benjamin R. Barber, "How markets corrupt children, infantilize adults, and swallow citizens whole".