This is something I’ve been saying to myself a lot lately. I’ve created a lot of content over the past few years. It’s always nice to hear people say they enjoyed reading a blog post or watching my last episode of Creepy Basement. When people genuinely enjoy the things I create, it makes all the hard work worth it. I’ve invested a lot of time, money, and heartache into everything I do and I know there are a lot of people in Philadelphia doing the same.
My dad messaged me last week. He’d been watching Creepy Basement.
“Could I…send them to my friends?” he asked.
Uh–hell yes dad! That’s the beauty of the internet. When you find content you love, you share it with your friends. When your friends create content, they share it with their friends and then they share it with their friends. And so on. And so on…..
Sharing isn’t something new.
It’s been engrained in our DNA for a very long time. In the past, humans primarily shared for self-actualization, higher self esteem, or a sense of belonging. Now we live in the digital age and there are still so many reasons to share content. In fact, because we’re so interconnected via the web, we actually have the tendency to share more content more often.
Why? Because it’s so easy.
Sure, it’s easy to hit “like” on Facebook, but the “Facebook Like” feels like a passing wave on the busy streets of the information super highway. You’re on your way to your next Tumblr binge and you mustn’t dilly dally! Hey, how long does it take to click that link all the way on the left? Why not move your curser a few inches to the right and click “share” instead? Sure, you might have to write one or two sentences based on your opinion, but come on! It’s not like you’re being water-boarded or anything.
There are studies online dedicated to the psychology of sharing. They all say the same thing: the reasons we share content online are pretty similar to days of past. According to these studies, there are five reasons people share content online:
- To give value and to entertain
- To nourish relationships
- To promote causes
- To get a sense of self-fulfillment
- To define their identity
When you share something online you do it with the full intent of achieving something. Most of the time, you share content for entertainment purposes. You want to entertain your friends. Why not entertain them with something that they might not regularly see from an independent artist? Many people wish to portray a better sense of who they are and what they care about through the content they share online. They also want to feel a great sense of self-fulfillment when sharing content that makes them feel more involved in the world. Why not show your support for a lesser known non profit by sharing their event? Sometimes we forget that the internet has given us a huge voice and we can use that voice to give attention to independent artists and causes doing what they do best.
As an artist, you want people to share your content. In a survey conducted by The New York Times 73% of people said that they process information more deeply when they share it with others. Eighty-five percent of those people said reading their friends’ responses helped them to understand and process that information even further. When people share the things you create, they become more connected to your content and start to understand and discuss it more deeply.
Remember what it was like before the internet as an artist?
It was terrible!
You had to walk up and down city streets stapling show posters to telephone polls. You had to go to every open mic night in the tri-state area in order to get people to hear you. The internet has changed the way we promote our creations. We just need a little help from our friends.
So when people come up to me and say they like what I do, I want to encourage them to share it.
If you like it, share it.
It’s that simple! If you’re seeing content, particularly independently created content, don’t just like it, share it! When you share something awesome, you’re not only practicing your engrained need to share information, but you’re also helping independent artists spread their work around the web. When you scroll down your Facebook timeline and you see posts from Gawker, E Online, Lady Gaga, and Mashable, that’s because they pay a lot of money to get that content in front of your eyeballs. Independent artists don’t have those kinds of resources. They can’t utilize Facebook as well as Viacom can.
We don’t need to share content that’s already on the news or in the paper. The internet should be a place where we share content that’s not widely seen. So stop sharing everything George Takei posts on Facebook, and start helping independent artists reach the success they deserve. After all, YouTube was such a sensation because it gave nobodies with stupid dreams the ability to become self involved post-pubescent douchebags. We need to give the internet back to the people!
In order to cultivate an art scene through our interactions online, we have to do one more important thing–get out from behind our computers! Sure, liking or sharing something on Facebook is a great way to get the word out about something you care about. When it comes to art, you have to actually participate in the community in order to let it flourish.
In conclusion, I’m going to practice what I preach and share something with you. My friends Erin Davis and Nathan Edmondson of Reel 9 Productions packed up and shipped out west about a year ago. I miss them dearly, but I’m very happy to see that they’re constantly creating. Here’s something they posted awhile ago. I love their avant-garde approach to comedy, and if you love it too–share it!