VENI: It took me years and a lot of prodding to sign up with Facebook. Finally, in April of this year I decided to take the plunge and try it, more as an experiment and learning experience than anything else, I was determined to post as little of my private life as possible, having been horrified – as I still am – how much people post on facebook. The general idea that propelled me to open an account was to use this social media platform as publicity for my websites and publications, reaching out to people who can’t be bothered to visit the sites independently and or detach themselves from the clutches of Facebook.

sail7 blog
Time to leave ©MTHerzog

I’ll be blunt: in this day and age, like it or not, there is no escaping from social media because it has unfortunately institutionalised itself as the primary networking platform. Facebook stands for everything I detest: public display of private life that takes on dimensions that you cannot control, regardless of what they tell you about safeguards. If someone tags you in a photo or shares your post that’s the end of your controlled world and everything just snowballs from there on, for the worse.

My daughter helped me set up the Champagne Trails page and from then on I put up pages for this blog and the photography site. The results, I must admit, were stunning, and there is no denying that the traffic to my sites multiplied significantly, more that I ever hoped of achieving. With it, however, came an onslaught of posts from everyone else, all the friends, “friends” and relatives who discovered me, and whose shared posts inundated my timeline. It was very easy to understand why social media is so dangerously addicting, but also how it is the ultimate time-waster. I have enough trouble keeping my life together at the moment, and don’t need to be informed about what one family had for dinner, or where another person checked in. Too much information, way too much, and it reached a point where I felt nauseated and disgusted just looking at my timeline. There were days I couldn’t make heads or tails of it anymore, and that was before all the Christmas celebrations.

Maybe it’s the divorce that makes me bitter and anti-social at the moment, and I have read how others have coped with loneliness and depression through facebook. With me the effect was the exact opposite. It just made me even sadder and there were days I feared opening facebook because I dreaded seeing all the happy family photos. Needless to say, motivation ran out the door faster than I could blink.

VIDI: Yes, the dimensions that Champagne Trails reached (over 7600 followers), as well as the noble achievements of the other pages, was something to smile about, but I failed to see the purpose of it all. I certainly didn’t end up selling any additional books, nor did I receive any project offers. So as far as I am concerned, the great Facebook experiment failed, and made my decision to deactivate my account so much easier.

Do I miss it? No. Not at all. Other photographers will disagree with me, but the quality discussions that I sought for a photography group or forum never materialised. The blog may have a acquired one or the other new followers, but nothing substantial that I can put my finger on and say “these are regular readers”, because liking a post is not tantamount to reading it.

The facebook culture is social masturbation. Yes, it is a crass term, but that is exactly what Facebook is – self-gratification and the illusion of a achieving a high for the briefest of moments. Quality is overshadowed by quantity, and if your post is not something that can be absorbed or understood in the two seconds allotted to it while scrolling the timeline, then you can forget about any substantial interaction. As a result, you have an entire social cluster that has developed a massive attention deficiency, and people will posts things intended for speedy mass consumption. It is a virtual world where you can fake happiness, stage perfection, give completely false impressions, and manipulate other people’s thoughts, without even leaving your chair.

What good does it do me to check out who is online for the the messenger or see what XYZ posted or where ABC had dinner? Why should I give a damn about that information? The real photographers on facebook use social media to draw attention to their own professional sites, where the true quality exists, not in the fake halls of low quality facebook resolution and popularity contests on Instagram.

ARRIVEDERCI: Sorry folks, but facebook has failed to impress me, but at least I can now justify why, based on personal experience. Yes, it will definitely cost me several thousand followers, but at least I know that those who visit my blog or photography website really mean it, and didn’t just click “like” while scrolling. The irony of it all is that I left Facebook 10 days ago and to this day only one person noticed. Those who give a damn know where to find me.