Featured Follow: Tara Mann

Please tell us a little bit about yourself, what do you do, and how do you like to spend your free time?

I’m a designer at Basecamp, where I work on our iOS app. In my free time I see and watch a lot of comedy, go to museums, wander around the city with nothing in particular to do, and write. I’m currently searching for new hobbies.

In your December post ‘Learning to Just Be a Person’, you described a proactive effort to alter how you relied upon and used various social networks. Has this continued to be a focus for you and if so, are there any additional tweaks you’ve made?

It’s definitely continued to be a focus, but I’m less strict about it. I still have notifications turned off for all networks, except for DM’s on Twitter and Snapchat in general, because I realized I was missing a lot of personal messages. I’ve become much less obsessed with the success of my content though, I think as a result of simply checking notifications less often. I no longer have “a win” or a perceived failure forced upon me by a push notification or lack thereof.

Telling stories across a variety of platforms is something you’ve been passionate about exploring and experimenting with. What network captures your attention most these days? Do you ever feel you are missing a different outlet for a specific type of content and context?

I love the performative aspect of social media, and the idea that you can be doing one long performance for a number of years across various networks. I like reinventing parts of myself online, creating hyperbolic versions of my real self, it’s something I’m always thinking about and experimenting with. While I love Snapchat, it’s been interesting to see how Instagram has co-opted parts of it with a more intuitive user experience. That being said, I still think Snapchat allows you to be a more authentic version of yourself. It’s the most casual of all networks and I find that intriguing, it’s also just so damn fun. I do want to write more long-form, but I don’t know where to publish that kind of stuff. Medium feels too formal and personal blogs feel dead. There’s so much pressure associated with writing online these days, it’s like everything has to be “a piece” and can’t simply be “a post.”

In the Design Details roundtable, you mentioned the pressure of maintaining a personal brand online, especially as a designer in the tech community. What types of things do you share with or discuss with colleagues and friends that don’t make it into 140 characters?

I do feel pressure to be a Designer™ on the internet. I go through phases where more or less of my Tweets and/or writing are related to design, but for the most part I don’t like presenting myself that way. I remember I used to think it was strange when people didn’t put where they worked in their Twitter bio, as I used to see Twitter as an essential part of networking with people in tech. While I do still believe that Twitter is extremely useful for connecting with others in tech, I often think about what it’d be like to not “brand” myself as a designer at all. I am a person who loves design and is a designer, but I’m also just a person. I have tons of varied interests. People make fun of #personalbrands but they’re real, and they can be fun and even complicated to manage at times. I enjoy it unironically.

What are 2–3 things you are currently thinking through, and that you’d enjoy have a conversation with others about?

In the past couple of months I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to live my best life, and talking to friends about what their “best life” means to them. I’m curious what people love and hate, what they look forward to, and what makes them most happy. It’s cool to work at a company that is remote, because people live where they want to live. They aren’t tied to a particular city because there are more tech jobs there. I lived in San Francisco for a while and it was only because I felt like I had to, like that’s where you had to be if you wanted to “make it” in tech. I like to know why people make the choices they do in life, and then discuss those in detail. I’m obsessed with social interactions and how people move through society, I think that’s why I like comedy so much.

What idea would you like someone to be working on, that given a lack of time/energy, you cannot commit to work on yourself right now? #WhatWouldYouLikeToSeeInTheWorld

I would love to see a crazy cool new airline that totally changes the way we travel. Something that offers things like super last minute tickets, a flat rate for multiple flights, crazy flexible booking options- stuff like that. Airlines are one of those things that have slowly been updated over the past few decades and while they’ve definitely gotten better it’s usually just surface level changes, like they make an app or they refurbish their planes. I wish travel was less of a hassle in general. I want to buy a ticket today to go to whatever city tonight and I don’t want it to be 4x the price because I booked it day of. I sort of hate committing to things ahead of time, it makes me anxious. I love last minute tools like Hotel Tonight, Amazon same day delivery, Everlane’s 1 hour delivery option, etc.

In the past month, what is an article, book, or video that’s made your mind go whoa?

This piece on why you should stop caring what other people think really stuck with me. Like most people, I’ve spent way too much time overthinking, obsessing, caring. I’m sort of a neurotic person by nature and I don’t see that ever changing, but trying to care at least a little less has had a positive impact on my overall attitude and sense of self.

You can learn more about Tara on Twitter @taramann and on her personal site.