5 Questions on social media today with Ana V. Martins of Amsterdive

What’s your relationship with social media? It’s a question lots of us are asking ourselves today in this age of digital saturation. Most of us recognize that social media can be both a positive and negative force which is precisely why navigating its role in our lives can be so tricky. How do we find the balance between enjoyment and mindless addiction? How do we manage our social presence and interactions so that they are an uplifting source of inspiration and not a digital suck?

To think about these questions, I brought in my friend and fellow blogger, Ana V. Martins, the brains behind the wonderful cultural and personal hub, Amsterdive. In five questions, we delve deep into Ana’s personal relationship with social media, discussing her approach to her Insta-feed, her harrowing view of where she thinks it’s all headed, and much more.

I hope you enjoy, and after, meet us in the comments to share your experiences managing your relationship with social media.

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Social Media Today_How to deal with digital overwhelm_Your relationship with social media_Amsterdive_Elizabeth Sensky1. To start off, tell me about your relationship with social media. When did you become active on social media and on which platforms? How has your relationship with it evolved over time?

The first social media platform I engaged with was a sort of Facebook precursor called HI5, back in 2003, or sometime around then. Around that time I also opened a Photolog account to share photos of my friends and me partying. Soon I realized the silliness of all the ‘ego-show off’ displayed there, and I quit social media altogether until 2011 when I decided to move to the Netherlands. Because I was moving countries, I realized that having a Facebook account was very useful to keep in touch with everyone. I was already blogging by that point as well and established blogs were starting to connect their platforms to Facebook. In 2016, I started Instagramming for my blog, Amsterdive – that’s when social media became a tangible work asset for me. I started to view social media platforms as valuable tools that enabled my work to reach a wider and more diverse public at a steady pace. However, I consciously made a decision to share very little on my personal Facebook account, and nothing blog-related (except for achievements). Because I think even though it is my work and I am passionate about it, it doesn’t make it okay to spam my friends and acquaintances. I have a separate Facebook for the blog and those interested in it can follow my work there. Once I was able to draw the line between my personal life and work and what I would share – and not – on each account, I finally became active on social media guilt-free and with confidence. That said, as time went by I started to own ‘my voice’ more and more. There are very few times when I doubt if I should post this or that. If it’s relevant for my audience, I’ll post it. If it has elegance in the way it’s put, I’ll post it. If it’s creative and surprising and doesn’t expose/exploit the people I interact with, I’ll post it. If I put myself in a vulnerable position but I’m ready to own that vulnerability and I feel that it breaks a taboo, can be useful, or uplift others, I’ll post it. If I feel it’s just my ego talking and there’s no relevance/story to a photo, I don’t post it.

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2. On Instagram today, one ends up seeing a lot of the same content. This redundancy in imagery and sentiments can be draining, eye-rolling, and perpetuate the notion that social media is fake and superficial. But at the same time, if you want to grow a following to promote your work, it’s true that certain aesthetics and types of posts are much more effective at gaining followers. How do you view this?

Do you feel the pressure to conform your feed or posts, or pursue certain tactics (i.e. hashtags, following people, paying for ads) in order to gain a following for your blog?

I don’t feel pressure to conform to posts that bring easy likes and followers because I don’t live off my blog. This is a conscious decision. I don’t want to have the feeling that I’m selling my soul. I don’t want to prostitute my personal life either. So I’m willing to wait and go at a steady pace that allows for control over my decisions and my creative processes. I want to grow on my own terms and that takes years/decades of work. These days people are wired to race. Despite being caught in the race at times, I’m not a rat. And I consciously try not to resemble one. Everybody wants instant everything, but as much as I search for instant gratification too, I know that “instant recognition” comes at a cost. One of the dangers is that you get hooked to the adrenaline of success and, before you know it, you’re creating content you don’t feel aligned with, feeling shame in secret whenever you need to post, or just feeling empty. I don’t want that to happen to me. I want to create stuff that I’m proud of, and I want it to come from a place of honesty and creativity. I want to add something. It is extremely difficult to create honest, creative content that you wholeheartedly feel identified with when you’re under constant pressure. That means you need to make a few concessions. Besides choosing to grow slowly, the main concession I’ve made on Instagram was the use of hashtags. I find they create noise in your content. At the same time, it is a smart way to reach like-minded folks so I try to use ‘meaningful hashtags’. Let me give you an example: I wouldn’t use the #doitforthegram hashtag. It is a very popular one that could augment the visibility of my posts but, in my opinion, it sends the wrong message. It promotes the pursuit of beautifully perfected images which are totally disengaged from context, concepts, or any sort of idea, whatever that might be. I oppose that mentality so I try not to use hashtags with funny messages no matter how strategic they could be for visibility. I don’t do ads, use bots, or pay for promoted posts either.

Social Media Today_How to deal with digital overwhelm_Managing your relationship with social media_Amsterdive_Elizabeth Sensky_53. How does social media impact your personal life? Is it something you have to work to limit? Alternatively, do you find it also enriches your life in tangible ways?

I’m extremely grateful for the existence of social media and the Internet in the way that they are the mediums that have allowed me to pursue my own professional path, create my own project from scratch and make it reach people that have a genuine interest in it. Blogs and social media allowed me to connect with numerous people that became good friends, or work partners, or who simply provided great help along the way. However, I’d be lying if I said social media doesn’t impact me in negative ways.

First of all, I feel it is a very addictive medium and if fuels compulsion and a need for validation. The addictive nature of these platforms is studied by now so we need to employ strategies so that, at the end of the day, we remain in relative control. I say ‘relative’ because we don’t live in bubbles — we are affected by everything we see and everything that takes place around us affects us in certain ways. I totally understand people who quit social media altogether because they find it just adds noise to their lives. I’d totally quit Facebook if my work didn’t depend on it. For instance, I do a lot of cultural events research on it so I can’t possibly dispense with it. At least, not yet. Instagram is easier for me because I follow only accounts that interest me, meaning: content that drags me down is very limited in my feed. I’m always trying to balance this tension but I feel I’ve been ‘succeeding’ lately.

“I want to create stuff that I’m proud of, and I want it to come from a place of honesty and creativity. I want to add something.”

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4. Where do you think social media is headed? Do you think we’re gonna look back and think “wow, we were all obsessed lunatics” or do you think this is just the tip of the iceberg?

For me, what we see now is just the tip of the iceberg. Video is going to become the new photography in the sense that’everyone’ will be doing it, similarly to how everyone does photography today. Social media will function even more as a parallel reality – people will be sort of ‘enforced’ to be on it, the same way everyone is ‘forced’ to have a bank account nowadays. Digital nomadism is going to become the new normal among the more educated. I risk saying that because people’s online presence will see its importance strengthened, ‘live presence’ will become more valuable and people will be able to pay (more) money for it. Some specific sorts of work will become more expensive if they have to be done ‘in presence’.

Social Media Today_How to deal with digital overwhelm_Our relationship with social media_Amsterdive_Elizabeth Sensky_7We will learn how to cope with all the platforms but the most privileged will be able to outsource tedious ‘mandatory’ online activities and take better care of their sanity. Working behind a computer for hours on end is going to be the new ‘modern slavery’ and being offline is going to become a luxury not many will be able to afford. We will develop new sorts of technology-related addictions and I believe that, in the future, there will be a lot of programs for social-media-addicted people. Social media is going to be the new smoking in terms of how complex it is going to be to ‘treat’ in cases of heavy addiction/compulsion, with two extra factors making it worse. 1.) We are not born smoking but most of us will start using devices as soon as we can coordinate our movements (a trend that you see happening already). And 2.) it will be difficult to get off social media completely as I believe that it will more and more become a part of being a ‘legal citizen’ in developed societies.

5. Finally, in the spirit of keeping our feeds uplifting and enriching, who do you follow that always adds something nourishing to your life (whether it be humor, beauty, career advice, perspective, etc.)?

I will focus on Instagram here. In terms of uplifting content, I like to follow the poet Rupi Kaur. I also like Jedidiah Jenkins mainly for his thoughtful, well-written captions. From Netherlands based Instagrammers, I love following the photography of Nina Bergh. Finally, I got hooked to an account suggested by yourself; Blue Star Guidance! I love her mini daily spiritual lessons. :)

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Social Media Today_How to deal with digital overwhelm_Managing your relationship with social media_Amsterdive_Elizabeth SenskyThanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us, Ana!

Now, we’d really love to hear your thoughts on this one! What’s your relationship with social media? Have you forsaken it altogether or how have you made it work for you?

Oh, and if you haven’t already, be sure to go check out Ana’s blog and Instagram.

*All photos are from Ana’s Instagram feed.

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1 Comment

  1. Ana Seas July 4, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Dear Elizabeth, thank you so much once again for your thoughtful questions. It was a pleasure to put my views on social media into words. Keep up the excellent work, girl!

    Reply

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