How social media validation throttles an artist’s growth
The key component in helping any artist grow, be it art, music, or any other skill, is feedback on one's work. A great way to get feedback is to share your work with the community, which in most cases in Bangladesh, is through social media. But social media feedback is a sword that cuts both ways.
Imagine starting as an amateur graphic designer and sharing your digital artwork, which might require some improvements. If you're popular enough on social media and a people person, chances are your comments section will be flooded with strings of appreciation. While the initial inspiration is definitely necessary, what's important for you in the long run is for someone to point out the areas of improvement.
Being connected to people who share the same interests or those who have more expertise in that particular field can be of great help. Professionals in that area will generally give you their honest feedback, considering they want the field to grow as well. A professional graphic designer can give you their take on the colour palettes, alignments, and other design features they believe you can improve upon. This can also help you build relationships with the community and let you personally ask them for feedback. With no personal affiliations involved, you can expect brutal honesty in their feedback. Brutally honest feedback and constructive criticism, however harsh they may sound, are most important in helping a person develop their skill set.
Having no-nonsense friends who are willing to give you their honest unbiased opinion is also helpful since you can expect unbiased feedback from them. They need not be experts in the field because any form of art is also for the non-artists to appreciate. Getting feedback from the audience's perspective helps you get an idea of how your piece of art might appeal to the general public, as long as the feedback is honest.
On the other hand, receiving a constant stream of praise can be quite validating, but it can be harmful for an individual looking to improve at their craft. Getting flooded by exaggerated words of appreciation for the tiniest of achievements or the merest display of creativity might easily quench your thirst as an artist. The thirst to learn and the hunger to refine your skills start to disappear and you become creatively stunted. One can become easily satisfied with their current level of skills, since they're surrounded by praise that can be hollow at times. This ultimately leads to a sense of self-satisfaction that can stop budding artists from improving.
A good place to start would be to find platforms on social media, like a Facebook group or a subreddit, where you can connect with other fellow artists in the same field. Try to connect to someone who's been working in this field longer through a mutual friend and ask for regular feedback. It is crucial to not let social media points get into your head since the only thing that can stop an artist from growing is a false sense of validation.
Hasib Ur Rashid Ifti is an undergraduate student at BUET.