Balancing Creativity with Social Media Algorithms

Thoughts 18 June 2017

How can social media engagement tactics coexist with authentic creative expression?

Amidst the hectic onslaught of university deadlines, I’ve spent the past month reconfiguring my creative process in an attempt to crystallise what precisely differentiates my photographs from others’ and, more importantly, whether I was creatively fulfilled with the content I was pushing out. In attempting to answer these questions, I’ve reached the conclusion that any attempt to clearly define one’s aesthetic is somewhat futile because creativity is such an inherently elusive concept. While creative processes vary from person to person, the purest works of art are the byproduct of creative liberation. In an increasingly homogenised industry, it has become crucial for me to focus on concepts that I consider to be absent from today’s society. The repetitiveness of the content permeating the art scene today runs against the objects of art-making, which ultimately affects the overall quality of information shared online and decreases the ability to innovate beyond a #like4like.


This brings me to the core of this post: what happens when so much of the same material keeps circulating the creative space that it effectively undermines the very fundament of art-making? How can social media engagement tactics coexist with authentic creative expression? What ever happened to creative tendencies that were born in an environment where individual expression was the paramount motivation, rather than the focus on reception of one’s work by others?

Then there’s the issue of the information bubble, whereby the results yielded on search engines and newsfeeds are largely dictated by what the user has previously viewed, which is supposed to provide a personalised experience. Problematically, this is furthered by the ability of users to selectively follow the works of their favourite publishers through subscription. Optimistically, if users are consciously subscribing to publishers that create content extending across a wide categorial spectrum, this could potentially mitigate the issue of restricting oneself to a select few genres of interest.


Contrarily, however, since personalisation is such an integral factor to the enjoyment of the application, most users only follow those who inspire them, which goes back to the bubble effect of recycled concepts that circulate social media and the impediment on exposure to a wide range of content. Perhaps the problem rests in the fact that our generation has become too dependent on online outlets as sources of creative stimulation, or maybe the main issue is the increased commercialisation of influence and the general appeal of being a self-made business. Whatever the real defect is, I hope this post acts as a reminder that art is more powerful than statistics on an app.


Self-portrait by yours truly