I’ve made it no secret that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Twitter—its mere petty existence tests my sanity on a daily basis, but I still use it to find artists to help me on projects and test if my art has “mainstream” appeal (it doesn’t just appeal to other artists or people who understand the process).
However, I am increasingly starting to believe skeptics (cynics?) that are convinced that social media platforms are actively starting flame wars so they can get that sweet, sweet ad revenue that apparently comes when a post gets a lot of comments, knowing fully well they are damaging their user’s mental health, making the world a meaner place, and even possibly paving the way for the next Donald Trump—don’t let their attempts to slap political trolls on the wrist long after the damage has been done fool you.
Whether or not that’s how platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube work, I have noticed that I can’t remember a single time that Twitter’s “Trending” tab has shown anything positive that doesn’t make me absolutely furious at a celebrity, a politician, a country, a state, a TV show I had no plans on following, anyway, etc. I have also given up on Facebook and Instagram entirely after being told my political rants and memes there are more likely to get noticed than my art and I should focus on that instead, at which point I wisely decided that getting a few more followers on Facebook was not worth saying controversial stuff all the time that will cost me a higher-paying job, particularly in animation.
All in all, this is just a long way of saying that I will post more often on Newgrounds, Ko-fi and ArtStation and let my Twitter and YouTube accounts shrivel up, as 1) Clearly their algorithms are now massive risk/reward systems that incentivize you for being an asshole online, even if you risk being “cancelled” or even starting actual real-life fights when the rudeness of the Internet inevitably gets to you, and I no longer want to be a party to that, and 2) It seems incredibly difficult and naïve at this point to think I can succeed on mainstream platforms with innocuous or even uplifting content, and the pressure to keep up with their algorithms for meaningless likes and comments is resulting in me rushing my art and potentially hurting my chances of getting a paid job in animation—I know now that succeeding in social media and succeeding in getting paid to draw (so that I can leave my lousy job working at a grocery store) are mutually exclusive goals in my unique case. If I become a famous artist, I could just return to Twitter or YouTube anyway and get far more attention with almost no effort simply by being well-known (though I promise to not become a Butch Hartman)—the days of getting famous on the Internet without already being famous elsewhere are long gone.
With Newgrounds, Ko-fi, ArtStation, and any other art-only sites (I’m going to pretend Newgrounds’ freakish Forum section doesn’t exist) I don’t feel as pressured to produce a huge quantity of art at the expense of quality, and in fact it seems like my art is more likely to be noticed and even promoted to potential employers if I spend the extra months polishing my art to professional levels. So while I can’t give up entirely on YouTube and Twitter (both are still great sources for tutorials and artist help), I’m going to do what I should have done a long time ago and simply make quality art that will get me a better job without trying in vain to compete with people who can easily post quality content on a daily basis, all for likes and comments that won’t pay for the roof over my head.