Green Shirt Studio

How Social Media Can Hurt Your Acting

Social Media

Actors, we have a problem. Our neediness and our vanity is being fed by an insidious monster named social media.

Recently, in a Facebook group, I learned of an actor friend on Facebook taking down a post because he was insecure about the amount “likes” it received. I casually mentioned this to a friend of mine in a face-to-face conversation, and she told me that this was actually becoming a type of modern-day psychosis — people are actually becoming addicted to “likes,” and their sense of self-worth is plummeting or billowing with the likes on their posts (or retweets/favorites on Twitter, or “loves” on Instagram).

Don’t believe me? Read this article on NyMag.

I have long known that Facebook, specifically, is a place that I either go to feel terrible about myself or to shamelessly self-promote, two things that I am really not proud of. As actors we may have to self-promote from time-to-time, but I implore you not to put your self-confidence in how many likes you get, and resist the urge to incessantly check your social media sites for your own popularity.

Our online presence is a needier version of ourselves, and also a lie, because we don’t post the whole truth about ourselves, we only post what we choose to post. We must resist the lure of social media because this is exactly what we are looking to get away from in our acting. Our craft as an actor demands that we stop putting the attention on ourselves — rather, we work to put the attention outside of ourselves and onto the world around us, and specifically onto our scene partner(s).

Andrew, my husband and a teacher at Green Shirt, has said it beautifully: “It is impossible to be self-conscious if you are partner-conscious.” Our mentor, Larry Silverberg, talks about this in great detail, and I love this image that he talks about trying to avoid, which is “holding the mirror up to oneself.” As soon as we hold the mirror up to ourselves, we immediately get back a reflection of ourselves, and this feeds our self-consciousness. I cannot think of a bigger mirror than that of social media.

With that being said, here are a few simple things that we can all do as homework to get us into better contact with the world around us:

  1. Shut it down
    Take a break from social media. I have a close friend who shuts his Facebook account down for several weeks at a time as a sort of online cleanse. When he feels ready, he will open it back up. See if you can take a 3-day, 5-day, or 7-day challenge of this. Maybe you’ll like it so much that you’ll do it for longer.
  2. Leave your phone at home
    Try leaving your phone at home for a day and see how you do without it. Or, if you want to have it for emergencies, try turning off your phone when you are out and about.
  3. Feel your feelings
    When you are out in the world without the comfort of your phone, how does that make you feel? Acknowledge it and turn your attention outward. Try to notice how other people are around you. What does their behavior say to you? What kind of a day is this person having right now?

Strengthening your ability to put your attention outwards will help you not only to become a better actor, but also to become a better human being, which are essentially the same thing, because our acting is not a separate thing from our humanity.