Don’t get me wrong, I’m a creative person. Obviously, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to be a writer. But sometimes the words, images or sounds that someone else produces speaks more to my heart than my own thoughts.
You know what I mean: when you’re reading a book or poem and you discover something that’s so pure and true and so you that you just have to put it down for a second and take a deep breath.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I post on social media. Most of my Tweets and Facebook posts come from my own words, but I also like to share and retweet and reblog and curate a digital collection that mixes my own thoughts and photos with those of others.
Much of social media is based on this idea, especially Pinterest and Tumblr. Think of it as a series of museums and galleries with the opportunity to make infinite copies of each piece: you see something you like in one gallery, pop it off the wall and another one immediately appears. Then you’re free to put it in your very own gallery that, while it may share some of the same pieces as other museums, it’s its own unique collection. It’s yours.
Before I ever knew about Tumblr, and likely before Pinterest was even a blip on its founders’ radar, I followed this practice. In high school, we read Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” for my English class. At the time, I absolutely hated that class and how my teacher made us try to find meaning in “Doctor Zhivago” or “The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.”
But the stars aligned in some cosmic nerdy way, and John Green’s “Paper Towns” came out just as we started the Whitman unit. If you haven’t read “Paper Towns,” part of the plot revolves around a character using lines from “Song of Myself” to create a sort of scavenger hunt. (You should read it.)
It was then that I realized parts of the poem really fit with my life, and my feelings about the universe and love and, on a smaller level, hats. So I took those parts and remixed it to make my very own “Song.” I’ve found it to be a useful practice every once in a while, because it helps to see how my feelings have changed and what things are important to me now, in this moment.
Sharing on social media is essentially remixing and condensing everything we see online (and whoa, do we see a lot every day) to what we find the most important, to what speaks to us the loudest. If you’re an avid Facebooker, Tumblr-er or Tweep, take a look through your posts. What does your curated museum look like? Go back to a time where you were happiest — and where you were at your lowest. What articles, songs, videos meant the most to you?
Remixing and curating can tell you a lot about yourself and help you find what’s most important at different times of your life. Whether you do it by writing it down in a journal or sharing it with the entire internet, it’s a practice I’ve noticed becoming more common, and more meaningful to people looking to learn more about themselves.
Jessica Ryan is a community manager and recent CU grad. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan.