COLUMN: Our digital facade

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It is widely accepted that the “highlight reel” phenomenon on social media can combine with our inherent social comparison mechanisms to make a pretty spectacular mess of our self-esteem and mental health. Only posting the good stuff creates a glossy front built on half-truths and image insecurities. This phenomenon is greatly exaggerated on artist pages, where nothing bad ever happens and all is going exactly as planned. I am guilty of this. We all are to some degree. So in an effort to deconstruct my carefully curated digital façade, here’s a heavy dose of behind-the-scenes reality…

I have been fortunate over the years to release my music and video work through many avenues such as record labels, film festivals, and websites. When I post about this, it undoubtedly appears as though I just snapped my fingers and made it happen. What I fail to share is the countless rejections I receive each time I want to release something. My newest album is approaching 10 rejections from record labels. I paid 15 different film festival submission fees last year, only to have my music videos rejected by all of them. The label and film festival rejections pale in comparison to the number of rejections I get from press websites and premiere platforms. Even still, if I added up every rejection email I’ve ever received for all of my numerous projects and ventures, the total would be miniscule compared to the number of submissions that never get a reply. Literally thousands of them sit unanswered in my “sent” folder. Many will say this is par for the course, but it does not get easier, at least for me. In fact, it gets exponentially more frustrating every time. I will admit to feelings of depression, self-doubt, and anger. Many times I’ve wanted to give up and focus my energy elsewhere.  I am constantly second-guessing my abilities, and rejection just fuels that flame.  

This is (my) reality, despite how it may look when perusing my pages. If you’re an artist or a writer, you’ve likely experienced similar trials, and you probably aren’t posting about your failures either. The reasoning behind keeping things positive and shiny on social media is understandable. Controlling our own narrative is a powerful and relatively new option we have in this ever-expanding digital universe. We want to feel important and successful, and we want others to see us that way. But omitting the rough parts of our stories isn’t healthy for us as individuals, or as a society. Being transparent about our struggles in the digital world does not make us any less successful. It makes us more human.