Hopefully, we have all realized that we aren’t using our platforms to our best advantage. Small business owners and big brands certainly thought so. Look what they have done some platforms are one constant pitch and… that’s a better evolution than a sea of inert selfies. On Instagram in particular, I feel like selfie masters did level up. I’ve seen more professional looking model shots and, yet it does nothing but promote beauty. As our Earth cries out demanding we start paying attention to what is really going on around us, I think we can do more. For those that already consider themselves Humanitarian or Earth Warriors, yo! — We can do better. Especially those of us posting selfies that clearly have taken some time to create.
I was already under the influence of my superhero muse (Raver J) when I became interested in yoga. It was “Her”, after all, that led me to the yogic path. And it was my mythophrenic belief in superheroism that attracted me to the karma yoag or seva aspect of yoga (we can call this “the path of service” or “giving back”). Perhaps it is not coincidental then that not long upon my yogic journey I would start a nonprofit led by the mantra of Gandhi’s quote “you must be the change you wish to see in the world”. The quote reflected the inner-knowing that modeling behavior would be important in any change I wanted to see in the outside world.
Initially, I embarked on what I would consider a normal green living or eco-journey. I did my best to question everything I came into contact with. I adopted the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink model. Slowly, day by day, I completely changed the trajectory of my life. Although there have been moments when I have worried we are collectively not moving fast enough, I have reminded myself that I see (and continue to see) the world around me transform. Basically I arrived at this realization, that what we do in the world matters. Like… everything… or that it could….
Social media really started taking off around the time of my transformation and, I immediately saw it as an opportunity to give causes a platform. Very early on I did not think it was being used to its potential. Sadly, I feel the same today. So often I see people I know that do care genuinely about certain issues and yet all they can figure out how to put on their feed is another party selfie or another post of food. Our profiles reflect not just our life but how we think. I believe we are less shallow than many people (possibly unintentionally) project themselves to be.
What is the solution? Art + activism aka “artivism”. Have a message or something you care about? You don’t have to post something all the time (like I tend to do) but geez… can we get something meaningful at least once a week? Instagram happens to be my favorite platform (so this remaining post will focus on that platform), but please let these ideas seep in and influence how you might do something similar on your favorite platforms.
INSTAGRAM ARTIVISM: When you come to someone’s profile, you now see IGTV. This is a great place to actually make something meaningful and I have seen people create message-based stories here. For instance, I have one titled “Trashtastic” and it is mini-education on how I recycle and upcycle various forms of plastic and waste at home. Aside from IG Stories and whatever you might want to video yourself talking about or showing on IGTV, you can actually create clever artivist-based posts within your normal IG posts that are not necessarily taken over with words that make it look like an educational meme (although I have no problem with this as can be seen by my own profile and some of the profiles I follow).
Artivist-based posts can look like standard selfies or shots of you. How you make it more meaningful is by saying something in your comments. You can do a whole blog post in your comment (kind of like I did above) or keep it even simpler. When I mean simple, I still mean it has some sort of “call to action”. Make your curious circle of influence go on a journey and do something. You could leave a link! — Tell them to visit your saved IG Story (on whatever you are messaging about), or if you have LinkTree, tell them to go to the link in your profile to find out more. You can do something similar in your daily IG story by posting a picture and then providing a profile or hashtag to visit (as seen below).
ABOUT THOSE MEME POSTS:
If you want to include a meme post and make it more active than the statement the image makes, then again, include a “call to action” in the comments. Again, this could be providing a profile or telling your peeps to visit a link for more information (about what you are messaging about).
Although convenient, I get it. Some profiles are messy looking, and you have a beautifully curated page. Word. I’m sure we have seen how some people are dealing with this. They have some sort of formula of a regular post, then word-based post, then… whatever it is their formula is. Usually, people doing this are selling something a product or themselves in the capacity of some service. If you don’t sell anything formulaic, pages like that might also seem too much but let me provide another idea, so you don’t look like you are completely shallow on first glance. Make some sort of words based or title post on occasion. It will depend on your level of comfort. I personally like the idea of having one post be visible every time someone sees my profile on first glance.
Depending on how often I am posting (which isn’t a lot for me right now) it could be weeks since I have created a post like that. On first glance and depending on screen size of someone’s smartphone, they would see between 9 to 15 posts. So there you go, there is your regularity formula.
If you are familiar with Instagram, you will know that the little boxes on the right-hand side of the images mean that there is more than one image. This is yet another way to potentially message. You can keep your profile even meme-free and of limited commentary by telling a story through multiple images. Rather than explaining at length all the ways you can activate yourself with that strategy, I encourage you instead to go see for yourself.
Now if you want to really take your newfound love for artivism to another level, trying embodying it. Put the message on or into your own body. As you may have noticed throughout this post, I have been showing off the artivism dedicated to a program I am passionate about, bringing back the Scarlet Macaws.
Because examples can be helpful, let me explain my process. Last year I became involved with the Scarlet Macaw project town. These birds are iconic. They are flying rainbows. Seriously. Posting pictures of them is basically showing off the art of Nature but, I thought why not make art around the program that is interactive and inspiring? In March of last year, after Envision Festival, a dear friend of mine and superstar performer came to stay with me. I basically talked her into a photoshoot idea I had that I was initially to self-model for. It wasn’t hard to convince her. She loves animals, so she loved the idea.
As you might notice in the actual picture I took of Katyibunny, she ended up looking more like a Blue Macaw. So I contacted an artist I admire, Chandan, and asked him if he wanted to be part of this artivism campaign too. He agreed and is the reason we have the beautiful watercolor fine art print below.
Now, embodying art does not have to be this elaborate. You can make a sign and hold it in your hands (which are energetic extensions of your heart — think about that). You can paint your face with a message. You can simply dedicate your fashion, makeup, styling of the photo symbolically to a cause. Of course if you do things that are symbolic, you will definitely need to make some sort of commentary on your process. Of course the final and appropriate artivist touch is to include some sort of call to action.
Why bother talking about any of this? Well, what if everything we did mattered? What if any behavior we decided to display or take part in perpetuated into infinitude? What if you thought you were capable of “being a superhero”?
Many people will continue to “awaken” going forward (especially in the rave and festival communities). Often when that happens, we want to feel like we have more purpose in our life. So this post is really dedicated to those that are looking for ways to infuse more purpose into your life. And let me remind you…
You ARE “that important”. We all have the capacity to be superheroes of something. F the selfies. Let’s embody art and save the world. What will you create?
J I V A N A — an experiement in art and activism