I like receiving hearts and likes on my social media feeds . It’s a little burst of acknowledgement and affirmation that often feels essential when one works mostly in isolation .(This sentence would not have been in my vocabulary ten years ago. )
I would have never considered the possibility that someone would view my post or art and offer an instant reaction via a heart (Or thumbs up).
But I confess that now it is no longer enough .
To like, to love and to follow and “friend”have taken on a whole new meaning. Over twenty years ago I would have to be thrilled if visitors shared their comments in a guest book during a gallery show . Sometimes it might be the only way other than being present at an opening that I could gauge personal reaction to my show. I would read those cryptic and kind remarks in varied scripts over and over -the guest book was a treasure .
Feedback helps when making and showing and selling art. Of course selling my art gives me a pretty clear feedback-someone likes it enough to have it in their home. . I also know that it takes about a second to put a heart on a post of my art. Impressions do help to propel me forward but often I will make a piece I truly am pleased with and know it will not accumulate hearts . This is an age old dilemma for artists and makers-as I believe one still has to make art that comes from a deeper more satisfying place.
Knowing our patrons helps to understand what they need from us too. So hearts can help.
In a love /hate kind of way I appreciate the response -yet not always sure what it means..
the viewer likes (or loves!)me..
the viewer likes my art (or loves it)
the viewer likes (or loves)what I said in my post..
the viewer knows me and feels obliged to add a little heart (haha I know this happens ;-) and it’s ok too!
What I am missing (and I know I am not alone) is the connection and commentary. A small note to say..something more than a symbol.
I know it takes a minute or so longer but that is my point.
For my part I am trying to say the smallest thing now rather than just plunking down that heart or thumb . I know it becomes automatic (like the scrolling) and I want to behave differently.
When I was eight years old our teacher asked us if we wanted to become a penpal with someone who lived in another country .I was excited beyond the moon and for many years kept in touch with my “Friend” from China . This dates me of course but the thrill of receiving a handwritten letter made my heart sing!
my first penpal :-)
Of course it was the only way to connect with someone far away as long distance calls were expensive. When I travelled I always sent postcards home .
Emails more recently used to be the quick and easy way to connect replacing lettermail (and the telephone) -and now writing letters to each other via email has diminished greatly too. (I still revere my email /letter writing friends .)
postcards and letters provided connection with far away others in my past
When was the last time you had a social phone call with a friend ?
Sometimes I find that people do not respond to emails anymore either.
Texts seem to be the most normalized form of communication with others.
Who has time to talk or write? I do fear we are losing the art of authentic expression and conversation.
I enjoy and treasure long conversations with friends and people who love to converse . The type where you know that each person is listening carefully and responding with depth,insight and connection. It feels especially reassuring to have these kind of meaningful dialogues with so much rush and hustle surrounding us.
Yet where I live in a small rural community in Ontario Canada there is a phenomenon I will call the country wave. It is a simple waving of hand and arm directed at a driver when walking and a vehicle passes..It also occurs when one is driving and passing another driver..Just a simple all fingers wave while holding on to the steering wheel . This never fails to bring a smile to my face.
What it does is render us visible to one another. This simple gesture is a connection. It is as simple as a “heart’ or a “follow “ but it communicates friendly in a big way !
How do we create better and more authentic connections with each other ?
Writing here and belonging to this online community feels like a start. We can communicate with each other. We can comment (we can also heart /like too) and we can express our thoughts! I will continue to appreciate your hearts, your follows and friending . I will try to expand on my hearting to you with a few words..
I will also endeavour to respond in a more wholehearted human way to your comments -or ..if you are so inclined ..your country wave !
Your words reminded me of a poem by a favorite portuguese poet. I'll try to translate it:
I need others to recognize me,
to say Hello
and good morning.
More than mirrors,
I need other people
so I can know
that I am me.
Hi Heather, I'm a new subscriber, and I'm so happy to have found you recently. You've quickly become one of my favorites here on Substack. Like Cathy, what you wrote resonates with me, also. I'm originally from New England, and know that country wave you're talking about. People do tend to keep to themselves these days, even online. Me included, so I'm happy to know the country wave is still alive and exists up north. I like your idea of just a few words, and I need to practice that, starting now. :) Hello, it's wonderful to "meet" you here on Substack. I'd like you to know I'm enjoying your posts very much.