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Careful With The Submissions & Social Media Overload
By M. Alouette
Maybe you've seen one of the increasingly popular memes about busyness on your favorite social network. Or maybe you haven't because you don't use social media, at least not often. It could be that you're "too busy" or simply cannot be bothered. If it's the former, you could be falling prey to one of our society's most dangerous traps: the cult of busyness. (And if it's the latter, please don't be too smug about somehow being "too good" for social media, either.)
While it may not actually true that every American works two jobs, we are a nation of side hustlers. Apparently, about 4 in 10 Americans have a side hustle. We are a country full of people struggling to make ends meet. We are also a country faced with high levels of anxiety and plenty of digital distractions. To quote the American Psychological Association, "our digital lives may be making us more distracted, distant, and drained." Just ask yourself how many times you checked Facebook or Instagram on your phone today. If you feel like you are always busy and always tired, you're not alone; you're just American. We shouldn't be proud of our constant busyness, either individually or as a nation. We should be concerned. People shouldn't have to work so much and so hard all the time. It's one thing to have a passion project; it's another thing to feel obligated to monetize every single hobby because your rent is so damn high.
There is a lot we cannot control as individuals, which makes it easy to feel overwhelmed. None of us can singlehandedly solve the affordable housing crisis in our city or ensure that everyone earns fair wages and humane benefits at their jobs. That doesn't mean we should lose hope or stop acting in ways that can amount to a difference, collectively and over time. We should still vote. We should still sign petitions. We should still help our communities by showing up, volunteering, and supporting others. But we also need to rest. Burn-out is real.
And when we rest, we should really and truly rest. This can be extra hard for writers, artists, and other creative people to remember because so many of us do not earn a full-time living from our craft. In order to paint or make films or write plays, we do our best to carve out time before or after office jobs or in between dog-walking or babysitting or waiting tables or doing whatever it is we must do to survive. All of us deserve time to dedicate to our art. We just have to find time to relax, too. For a bunch of us, cutting back on social media consumption—especially of the competitive, jealous variety—could be the perfect start.
You don't have to be the most published poet to be worthy. You don't have to be the most exhibited photographer to be worthy. You still matter even if you didn't win the competition you yearned to be your "big break." Sometimes, instead of sending out five more submissions, you need to take a nap instead. Don't feel guilty for distancing yourself from Submittable for a spell. Take a bath. Call a friend. Drink your favorite tea. Read a book. Life is not a scroll of to-dos. It is every moment that you notice and do not notice—so notice and enjoy as much as you can, while recognizing how far our world still is from an ideal place to live. It's a delicate balance and social media only complicates it. At least, scrolling (or not scrolling) through your frenemy's Instagram feed is something you can control, though.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.