Social Media / by Pleasant Folk

I’ll jump right into it…I don’t care for social media. I understand it’s importance as a marketing tool for a company. However, on a personal level social media is the equivalent of fast food and reality TV. In fact, I believe social media is structured as an extension of the reality TV boom of the 90s and 00s. Everyone is a reality star and it can turn the brightest person into a petty, shallow, attention seeking bimbo. The rules of social media are driven by brattines and jealousy.

Many influencers are people who love attention above logic and do not have actual products to sell or talents to share. Anything you say beyond blind praise and adoration is considered ‘hating’ or ‘shaming’. This EXACT same bratty behavior is seen in the art world from artists and critics, to curators and office administrators. Social media and the arts foster environments of worship towards prodigies and populars. Online bullying is as real as you allow it to be and criticism is not hate…it might just be the reality check you need.

Put your profile on private or disable your comments if you cannot handle criticism. Otherwise, just don’t put anything online in the first place if you don’t want it criticized. I do not allow comments on my posts at this time which is fair to EVERYONE. I’m not cherry picking voices to silence. If you want to send me feedback, please do so via email or fill out my form at a live event.

As someone who writes and illustrates picture books, I do not support influencers who use their children as content for an adult audience on social media. Social media has also bastardized the feminist movement to underwrite horrid behavior by refusing to take responsibility for reckless actions. The powerful message of protesting has turned it into a selfie flash mob because of social media. I am making a commitment to myself to never rejoin social media unless it is a Black owned platform or one specifically designed for entrepreneurs or artists.

Think about this…Amazon allows for a review of every product they sell. You can find thousands of one star reviews on thousands of products. There is someone who hates any given product for sale on Amazon! Yet, Amazon is not a toxic online space. You can go to The Gap and have a tantrum while returning a sweater and, when I used to work there, we never blocked or banned people from the store! We did not surround customers and call them haters for returning the sweater and we made compromises for people with complaints. With every receipt, out pops a customer satisfaction survey and no matter how much you complain, you will get a coupon for participating. Yet, The Gap is not a toxic place to shop. It is not about appeasing complainers, it is about confronting criticism like a mature adult and growing from it. As long as you are monetizing your platform, you have a responsibility.

I have been on and off social media for years and have never taken it seriously enough to do it ‘right’. Social media has been mildly effective when I complain to a company about sexual harassment, discrimination, or cultural appropriation. These companies (European Wax Center, Madewell, and Dallas Museum of Art specifically) only responded publically to repair their image, not to resolve the situation. They NEVER follow through in real life with a tangible resolution about my complaints. In many cases, I was blocked or my comments are deleted.

Anything I have ever said online is what it is and I do not apologize at this time. Feel free to bring up old tweets, chirps, clicks, or comments and my stance will be indifference. It’s in the past, please get over it and move on. I have experienced real issues of bullying, sexual harassment, burglary, and discrimination offline that were NEVER resolved by the schools, companies, or the police. You can always turn off your computer if things feel too toxic online, but you can’t just turn off LIFE if things are getting rough. Therefore, real life issues are of greater concern to me. After years of racism and bullying, I am allowed to have a bad day, to lash out, blow off steam, or vent. In the age of cancel culture, I am bracing myself now with courage and honesty.

I have never or will ever do anything on social media that is worse than seeing the murders of Black citizens on my Instagram feed, seeing celebrities and politicians in blackface, or reading jokes about child abuse by famous directors. Any hypocrisies or flaws you find in my wandering thoughts about social media are fine by me. Audrey Gelman, CEO of The Wing, was in a relationship with a well-known predator, Terry Richardson, for YEARS. Lena Dunham had risky portraits photographed by Terry Richardson during this time. These things happened in real life. Both are now feminist icons with huge social media followings and all they had to say about Terry’s allegations and their proximity to him was ‘Lena and I both have regrets.’ Nothing I have ever typed will be worse than Audrey’s and Lena’s real-life hypocrisy.

I appreciate being featured as an artist on the social media pages of companies and talented individuals, so I will continue seeking professional collaborations for marketing purposes and outreach only.

Have a Pleasant Day
-Rae Pleasant

These topics will be further explored in the Place Mat: Spellbook series.

*Please do not steal these ideas for your diversity seminars and blog posts without credited me.
Feel free to email me and invite me to speak at panels, lectures, or conferences about the topic.

MLA format:
Pleasant, Rae. Newsletter: Social Media. Dallas, TX: Pleasant Folk LLC, September 2019. www.pleasantfolk.com/newsletter/hardlessons