Allana Reoch is a comedian and writer from Toronto. She has a BFA in Acting from Ryerson University and is one half of the character-based sketch duo, British Teeth, winners of the 2011 Tim Sims Encouragement Fund and nominees for the 2012 Canadian Comedy Award for best Sketch Troupe.
Allana is also a graduate of the Second City Conservatory Program. Currently, she co-produces a bi-monthly show with British Teeth and can be seen performing solo-sketch and improv around Toronto. Allana really likes her hair, according to her biography on popular Toronto blog She Does the City, where she often publishes her writing.
In early September, I read a piece on the aforementioned blog that Allana wrote about how she de-activated her Facebook account. We’ve all been there – overwhelmed by endlessly scrolling and learning that our ex-partner’s brother just got a cat and has a really cute new girlfriend who’s great at taking photos and is even more great at holding a yoga headstand. Then you’re there, just creeping and feeling completely bummed about how you can’t also hold said headstand.
I reached out to Allana to chat about the era of social media. It was a wonderful experience to converse with her via e-mail and I’m glad to share our fun interview with you all. See below!
- How many hours a day do you spend on social media for personal use?
My joe-job is in an office, so I constantly have all of my social media tabs open on my work computer, no matter what. I would say that I am connected to social media in some form for eight to 10 hours, at least five days of the week, and most of that is just scrolling through my various newsfeeds.
- How many hours a day do you spend on social media for professional use?
I use social media to promote shows I’m doing or share articles I’ve written. I also use it to write jokes. This takes mere minutes out of my day to do.
- How does social media benefit you, personally?
I’m not sure that it does, if I’m honest. It’s nice to know that I can connect with my friends/family at the drop of a hat, but we all have phones. I could just as easily give them a phone call (a terrifying prospect, really).
- How does social media benefit you, professionally?
I think that we’ve all really gotten into the habit of connecting through Twitter and Facebook, so I usually book and promote shows this way. The readership of my articles is also higher when I’m able to share them to my various social media. If I didn’t have a social media presence, I don’t know how anyone would ever find me and read my stuff or make a plan to see my shows, except maybe by chance.
- Explain the disadvantages using social media can bring, if any.
Oh God, it just makes me feel awful about myself sometimes. For instance, Saturday night was kind of a low night for me. I stayed in and watched Dawson’s Creek (the prom episode where Pacey and Joey break up; devastating). I did a quick scroll through Instagram and saw EVERYONE enjoying the last long weekend of the summer, and I instantly felt like I didn’t have any friends (not at all true), and like I wasn’t living my life properly because I was under the covers in my air-conditioned apartment, instead of in a crop top at the lake. It’s a terrible way to feel.
- Why do you think there is such a fine line between using and abusing social media?
I think we’ve all developed a dependence on it, as well as a perceived “need” to use it for professional use. We’re terrified to separate ourselves from it completely for fear that it could mean the death of our careers and social lives. The problem lies in being TOO aware of what’s going on in the lives of others. I don’t need to know that the ex-girlfriend of my ex-boyfriend just put together a dresser today. But I do know.
- As a writer and a comedian, social media is a huge part of your career and your online presence. Why is it important to have an online presence, which includes social media, in 2015?
I think Twitter is great for letting people know I can write jokes in 140 characters or less, and Facebook is a great platform for keeping people up-to-date on my projects and to let people know I can write jokes in more than 140 characters (I’m much better at this). In order to stay connected to the comedy community and writing community, I need to “plug-in” to know what’s going on.
- What are some important pointers to up and coming professionals using social media to build their brand? What can they do to stay professional?
To be honest, I really do think the answer to that depends on your brand. I think there are some professional comedians and writers that share EVERYTHING and it’s hilarious, and then there are some that only write jokes, and that’s hilarious too. At the end of the day comedy and writing is about connecting with other humans about being human, so that’s sort of up to the discretion of the “brand-artist” (lol).
If you’re running a law-firm through Facebook, don’t do any of the above.
- What should young professionals avoid when using social media and other online tools to build their brand?
I would avoid taking pictures of bodily functions, at all costs. Unless, again, your brand demands.
- What is the worst/most hilarious (perhaps both) social media encounter you’ve ever seen? Perhaps between two of your Facebook friends or a Twitter argument…
Everything that happens on the Toronto Stand Up Community Facebook page.
- What is your favourite social media platform?
- As per your piece on She Does the City, you have deactivated your Facebook. Do you feel you are missing anything? If yes, please describe.
I FEEL LIKE I’M MISSING EVERYTHING. I ran into someone yesterday who told me he tried to get in touch to book me for a last minute show on Saturday, which was a bummer. I also feel like I’m not able to share my writing and shows with as many people. In general I’ve convinced myself I’m just on the outside of what’s going on with friends/family in general.
- What have you realized since deactivating your Facebook profile?
That I have a real problem that is affected deeply by spending hours looking at other people’s lives. It’s VERY hard for me to avoid the urge to compare my life to others’ lives when I’m spending hours scrolling through their vacation pictures and posts about achievements. I will reactivate Facebook, but I have to learn to separate myself from the urge to look at it so often before that is a worthwhile idea.
- Was this the first time you deactivated a social media platform? If no, which other platform did you take a break from?
It’s always Me vs. Facebook. The deactivation in the past has lasted for as long as three weeks and as little as one hour.
- Do you have anything to add?
I think it’s insane that we are so scared to delete our social media platforms completely, for fear that people won’t be able to get in touch with us. Someone referred to deactivating Facebook as “courageous” to me the other day, which is ridiculous and makes complete sense.
A huge thank you to Allana for answering our questions! Share your experiences with deactivating social media in the comments below.