On Social Media
Unfortunately there is no better way to publish photos, writing, or other personal content without using social media. The corollary is also true, there is no better way to follow content from someone you are interested in than using social media.
The open web and RSS were not successful enough to escape out of the tech crowd in the way Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have. I’m a firm believer in owning and controlling your own content. However, even if I publish all my content on my own personal sites, which I do, no one will see them unless I syndicate them out.
I try to use Twitter as a glorified RSS reader, both as a means of publishing links back to my content and viewing others. The problem is Twitter is also a communication platform, filled with all the problems of the internet like nowhere else. It is rarely an enjoyable place to visit, so I find myself doing it less and less and less.
Instagram is quite a bit better staying out of the gutter, especially if you take the effort to cull your follow list to quality people. However, a few things happen on Instagram:
- It feels that everyone tries to stay consistent and “on brand” because that is supposedly the best way to build your followers, so everything gets stale. After browsing Instagram over a period of time, it just feels like seeing all the same stuff over and over again.
- This may be related to above, but the recent feed changes away from chronological order make me feel like I’m always missing stuff. It removes any sense of timeliness which is especially profound on posts that are around events. It’s confusing to see things out of order. Plus, in trying to be smart it is showing me more content from people I interact with, and less from others I follow, which only reinforces that I won’t see all the content from who I follow.
- Instagram has tremendous lock-in which as a photographer I quite dislike. You are locked into their format, limited links, no control over presentation and how sets are delivered. I find myself thinking how do I transform my work so it looks good on Instagram, which is not the same as how do I make the best work I can.
Unfortunately, there is not much choice. Instagram has the biggest and most engaging audience, particularly for photography. If I post to Instagram I’ll get a dozen likes and a few comments - more if it’s a popular cliche shot. If I post the same content on my personal blog, I’ll be lucky to get a few views and maybe a like or two, definitely no comments.
Likes and comments aren’t all that important, though the platforms really suck you into the popularity content aspect. I’m not posting for the popularity, but as a means of sharing and connecting to other. There are numerous family and friends I want to share my photos with who wouldn’t see them otherwise.
This is the great catch-22 of social media. It is hard to live with, and living without just leads to isolating from other’s work and obscurity for your own.