Choose Life

May 14, 2021

INSTAWHO?

WhatalottaTok

Remember when Instagram was fun?

It seems like forever ago that I posted my first picture to Instagram. A Porsche 918 blatting down the pit straight at Goodwood on a track day. I was doing nothing more than panning practice. It was a lovely day, big puffy clouds and Goodwood on a sunny day, does take some beating.

At the time, I didn’t know what I was doing with my photography. All the gear, no idea really was applicable. I had seen and met people in real life who were using social media to show their work, their life and generally meeting other like minded people. I was on Flickr (remember that) but I was still trying to work out the technical aspects of photography. As usual, I dived in. I posted a pic. I had a like. I searched for a few people I admired the work of and so began that regime of shooting, posting and networking. That was fun.

Under the influence

I didn’t know what an influencer was back then. I just saw people on the platform and then would meet them in the real world. On the whole, they were all nicer in real life than online where they were still amazingly nice too. It all felt right.

Then a few things happened. I’d take a shot or two at an event and someone would ask for a copy. Then, you’d see them post but not credit you. That sucked. Then you’d get the few trolls sending you a DM. Mostly harmless, the occasional bot but I’m a thick skinned idiot who doesn’t do subtle so unless you directly say something, inferring something is lost on me.

Then I was asked to help out someone who had a ‘channel’, a ‘following’. It would be good for us both I was told.

It wasn’t.

I helped out, shared some knowledge and then got promptly left behind when things took off for them. No worries, karma will get theirs. (oh, and it really has…)

The people within the community were and still are, really great. We help out, share and talk at events. Some have become friends. But I’m kinda done with the app.

Alternative universe

The dreaded word that keeps on being bandied around is the ‘algorithm’.

They tweak it, they change it. People post billions of blog posts on how to cheat it, beat it and be the best at it. It is a competition that damages people who put a lot of faith in the platform, their feed and the comments they receive.

Like a lot of life, it should come with a warning.

It used to be about photographs. Today, it is possibly about video. It certainly isn’t about you though. It isn’t about quality. I actually no longer care what its about. I’m not entirely sure I ever did. I try and treat it mainly as a marketing tool for myself, or rather, I did. I think I’ve posted twice since the UK opened up a little from the pandemic. I look at other people’s work and I genuinely love what some people still do.

But lets get it said. It isn’t real life.

While some have said that they have struggled through the last twelve months or more with their social media, I can only offer this; if it isn’t making you happy, don’t do it.

Go for a walk

Go outside and leave the tech behind. Just a walk around the block. Take a road you’ve not been down for a while. Or ever. Find some green space be it a canal path, a city park or even a friends garden. Be still, think of the people in your life that mean something to you. Listen to the world around you. In amongst the noise, find a silence. Listen to yourself. Your heartbeat. Breathe deeply for ten breaths.

Imagine if the world was suddenly out of electricity. You’re unplugged. You are free. Free to do something simple like walk or talk to someone. Listen to nature. Find solace in the simple pleasure that is just being alive.

I know it sounds like I’m off to hug a tree, but sometimes, the noise of modern life needs turning off. Or at least down.

Annnnd back in the room

When you go back indoors, see how important an algorithm and its followers just was to your life?

I have signed up to some of the newer photo sharing apps and sites. Most don’t offer what I really feel I want, which is a community of people just sharing what they know, doing what they do. VERO didn’t do it. VSCO gave me many people in bobble hats on mountains and lots of filters to play with. Glass is the latest in development and I’ll see what comes of that.

The real world though, is full of lovely people. Twitter, for me at least, offers a nice place to chat and you can block out a lot of the things that make it a pit.

Tik Tok isn’t for me and I hate everything about Facebook. Maybe that’s why I don’t like Instagram that much seeing as that is now just another Zuckerberg silo. Maybe, and I think this is the main thing, maybe I have hit middle-age properly and I just like the simple things. A book, a pint, a chat.

As the news reminds me that politics is still the main thing that will eventually kill us all no matter how much we think we can change the world, maybe I’ll just go for another walk. Life can be too depressing if you don’t seek out the better sides of it more often than you allow it to creep in and upset you.

And if all else fails, tell me a knob gag.

Life is never better than with a stupid knob gag in it.

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