Growing up in an 11 child household, there was something i took for granted. Creativity and invention abounded. I felt an obligation to not only participate but to contribute and keep it going. All kinds of paper games and sports leagues littered the house. Each one unique and a progression on others. For individual consumption or for group enjoyment, these creations always had an audience.
That was the key. Not only did you have an audience, you had people with near identical upbringing and full knowledge of the root of your aspirations for your creation. The depth of discussion and potential iteration was maximized in this environment. Few ideas were dismissed as crazy. Because playing ‘golf’ on a paper grid, or football with cans of beans was normal. I took that for granted. It was a whole universe of energy and free time.
Architecture School was a pretty good replacement for this. All of us were there to study design and buildings. We were shaken from our comfort in first year and allowed to delve into the absurdly abstract elements of building components that were quickly becoming more than nouns.
At times it was much better than home, you had people from all over the world and professors of all ages with fresh eyes taking in novel ideas and quickly fielding critiques from the hip. And it was almost always understood that even the harshest of criticisms were not to beat you down, but to make your thought process stronger. The feedback loop was pretty watertight if you used it correctly.
That is the important aspect of culture building that I haven’t spent too much time thinking about post graduate. Coming out of school, you are now weaponized. People rely on you for quick design decisions without too much iteration or deeper question. You are released into general population where everyone has a different expertise. This is great. But what about the culture building feedback loop? Shambles. If you don’t have colleagues tapped into what you’re trying to achieve.
I’ve been curating a pretty hefty list of creatives in Charlotte in Instagram, peeping likes, comments and replies. The shocking thing to me is the like:comment ratio. Comments are very few and far between. And the comments that do show are usually one liners and light-hearted. It’s pretty interesting to me.
I think the importance of nuance and tone absent from mere text on a screen are to explain this. The theory is that internet comments are nasty and bolder than real life. But in my experience they are lighter than real life 90% of the time. Reduced to one sense instead of 5, it is tough to navigate communication.
I’ve talked to a colleague about this a couple years back about attempting to introduce crisp, brief college pin-up style critique in Insta. Sounds easier than it is. Social currency is real and you never wanna appear ‘nasty’ or arrogant online. So how to navigate that? How to helpfully critique a creator you follow to help their process? Because the feedback loop online is skewed. It is so fuzzy and warm and any creator knows this won’t get you anywhere. They need to know things that their tapped-in eyes can’t see from an outside perspective.
Now you can argue that you’ll just have to get concrete friends in real life. That’s fine but the lure of the modern world is the chase that is Creator Instagram. You build connections and alliances with people you only communicate with 1 sense with. And much of the connections you are able to make are determined by a ‘smart’ algorithm. So you’re generally left with fuzzy buddies.
How can the feedback loop get meatier? Is it persistence? Does it go down in the DMs? Is Instagram structurally not for that? Should i just go outside? What does our increasing physical isolation mean for culture building?