What has changed since September 2020 in my social media? Basically almost everything. I stuck to my personal goal of decluttering, fully aware of the risk I was taking by reducing my exposure as author and photographer. I have the pandemic and #lockdown to thank for this, as it became clear to me what despised about Facebook & Co. Earlier this year I took more concrete steps towards distancing myself and decluttering my social media to the desired bare minimum, which lead me to leaving Facebook at the beginning of April. This was a piece of cake but one must not forget that Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, which still held me in their grip.
What bothers me most about any social media platform is the incessant system of rewards and punishments. You get rewarded with likes for clicking on every godforsaken image posted, but get immediately punished for overdoing it, or get censored for language and the kind of image you may or may not upload. Under the guise of privacy protection and protection of minors, certain trigger words have been embedded in the programming to flag anyone who my pose as a potential danger. This, however, does not stop the trolls, creeps and self-proclaimed influencers from ruining your experience nor does it protect you from security breaches either.
The algorithms built into social media to chart the followers, number of likes, and the timing of your post in order to make the greatest impact is virtual bullying and gives certain people an unfair advantage over others, often times overshadowing the real talent. I’ve spoken my mind about “influencers” before, and have not budged from my position about them being delusional narcissists who think they have additional rights to the world simply because of the number of followers on social media or having the magic blue check for a verified account.
One of my very first experiences with social media and photo sharing was back in 2013 with NatGeo’s YourShot, followed closely by 500px. Talk about eye-openers! This bizarre mix of professional photographers and camera owners and phone photographers made my head spin because I failed to understand at the time how followers and algorithms worked. Eight years later I am much wiser, a seasoned veteran of so many platforms that I have joined along the way and left for one reason or another. It all boiled down to the same thing – the pressure to post regularly, if not daily, in order to keep your posts among the current feed. This was the first alarm bell that went off in my brain. Why do I have to keep up and give in to the pressure? Why should I have to keep up with Tom Dick or Harry who post twice or thrice a day?
Then came the concept of stories on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Good grief, I suddenly felt bullied into a corner and had bouts of insecurity. Should I be doing that do? Should I be bending over backwards to sell my soul to every freaking follower that might, just might, see my post? Is it morally correct to impose on people to view your story within the next 24 hours? I don’t agree.
It may have taken me well over six months to figure out the concept and direction I wanted to take my photography and writing, but as I said, I had the luxury of time to figure it out thanks to #lockdown. And flooding the internet with my presence, work and words is definitely not the path I want. I value my self-esteem, privacy and peace of mind far too much to continuously sell myself online just for a few measly likes. I’m at an age and stage in my life where I don’t need validation, false promises and empty praise from strangers or people who claim to be “friends” but won’t give you the time of day beyond “great shot!” Enough is enough.
I thought disabling the comments on Instagram and not commenting on other people’s posts would do the trick, but then I was overcome by this sense of hollowness and lack of purpose. To what end am I still posting on a platform that brings me no joy, satisfaction, professional advancement or business network building? In short, I fail to find the intellectual challenge or be motivated to try harder and aim higher. Today (April 28, 2021) I posted my last image on Instagram before disabling my account at the end of the month. It is an image that makes me feel that I have truly come full circle since I shot it.
Where does that leave me? Curiously enough, I have found two outlets for my creativity that also satisfy my need to grow my professional network. Mind you, not platform is foolproof and whatever you do online comes with a caveat of nothing is 100% safe, so be careful about how much you expose.
The first is LinkedIn, where I found my tribe among active professional women photographers who know what the blazers they are talking about and not just blurt out “great colour”. It is a place where people don’t mince their words if you spew bullshit and it teaches you to be mindful and sensitive, while also developing a business network strategy. Yes, of course there are trolls and I’ve been approached by my share of creeps who think that LinkedIn = Tinder and an independent and confident businesswoman can be hit on with a slimy, unprofessional question. However, this platform addresses all my hats as writer, photographer, translator, blogger, political scientist, and human rights / anti human trafficking advocate under one roof. It enables me to compartmentalise, but not have to deal with the shallowness and insignificance of the “likes” like on Instagram or Facebook. It doesn’t work for everyone, as one woman posted earlier this week, going on a video rampage on how the algorithm was working against her and therefore she was going to stay on TikTok.
The second outlet is a completely new direction for me and it is still in its infant stages. Nevertheless here are the first results, which I have to say I am rather proud of considering I am not trained for creating videos at all. It’s all intuitive, and a hell of a lot of trial and error, but that is exactly the point of learning. Creating these short video allows me to create a collection of photographs that fit together under a particular theme but have depth and soul. What bothered me about the other social media platforms is that you just post one image at a time, and posting a series over a period of time gets drowned out by the billions of other photographs posted. A slideshow / video encapsulates the message and emotion better, and gives the viewer a much better impression of your work and direction. This ties up a set of photographs in a neat little package for anyone can’t be bothered to visit my website, and I don’t have to sacrifice quality or dilute the message for the three-second scrolls on the home feed on Facebook & Co.
©FrogDiva Photography is now on Vimeo (the quality is far superior than YouTube, which I don’t trust with a 10-fool pole, as are the privacy settings controls):
Thank you for your patience with this ramble and I’d love to hear hear from you if you are also experiencing a social media burnout!