Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Flow: Finding Creative Balance in a Socially Networked Environment

Flow is the term coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihály to describe "the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity". Today's post is based on yesterday's tweets tagged with the #flow hashtag.
Most of our emotional pain comes from clinging to the past, fighting with the present or dreading the imagined future. It is born in the gap between what we believe should be true and what is. There's a world of difference between the thought "this sucks" and the idea "this SHOULD be different." Although flow is often thought of as requiring great expertise in the associated activity, it's usually the frustration with one's less-than-stellar skill that blocks flow, rather than any actual deficit. That said...

After enough practice, tools disappear. Then the artist disappears. And then finally all that's left is the emergence of art.  Someday I would love to have the time to master the full scope of the tools I use to create images, music and video. But until then, I've found that making full use of what I currently know is usually enough to channel the muse's voice and vision into shareable reality.

It's often better to surf across the waves than to swim against the tide. For those with an artistic passion, all experience can be used as grist for the mill. I've found that when I let go of how I think something should be, work emerges that is as good or better than what I originally envisioned.

The SocialNet can sabotage the intrinsic Joy-of-Being when we trade fully enaged activity for reporting opportunities. This can be a really grey area for net-centric creatives. The relationship between artist and audience is much more pervasive, real-time and personal in a socially networked environment. The need to be seen can overshadow and subvert the flow of creative expression.

Smugness isn't a virtue. It only feels like joy because it numbs your hungry heart for a moment. What is the relationship between page views, followers, retweets and happiness?  Doesn't it seem silly to use such metrics to quantify self-worth or the validity of one's work?

I nominate the fear of boredom as the eighth deadly sin. A lot of the compulsive behavior associated with social networking and media consumption stems from the fear of boredom. Boredom is the gatekeeper of creativity. Don't let it turn you away.



Raven Haalan said...

Amen. I love this. It's bookmarked for repeat reading and contemplation.

For myself, I know I'm flowing when the art is dictating what it wants to be. Rare, but there you go.

Botgirl Questi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Botgirl Questi said...

Thanks. I loved your recent post on Virtualism.