When I came off social media for a few months, last year, it wasn’t long before I realised that like it or lump it, it’s where people consume content nowadays.
Although my attempt to effectively cancel myself was fairly successful in terms of reducing my screen time, in terms of getting my work in front of eye balls, it was a resolute disaster. Admittedly I didn’t put as much time into getting work published on other platforms as I’d hoped I would - in part because hitting upload on social media is a breeze in comparison to reaching out to multiple magazines and organisations.
My reason for attempting to escape the social media rat race was, in part, because I don’t agree with the ethics behind it all (and I still don’t). The companies that run the platforms have proven time and time again that they can’t be trusted; with our time, our attention or our data. In fact, I’m not sure there’s much I would trust them with. I think most people would share this sentiment - at least in part. Yet, en masse, we continue to scroll to the beat of their drum, either oblivious to, or uninterested by the dysfunctional relationship we’ve found ourselves entangled in.
I felt like my role as a content creator was even more complicated. By regularly contributing content, I was providing material for these platforms - that we’ve already established I’m not a fan of - to use (for free), to capture and monetise people’s attention. Yuck. It just didn’t sit right, that images I create - which were meant to be positive (surfing, nature, sport) could actually be having a negative impact. Or at the very least, there was a better way to do it.
So why am I back? Well firstly, it’s not all bad. I’ve only talked about the negatives above, as they are what formed my decision to depart, but there are plenty of positives; from the potential to build connections and communities to the fact that by publishing positive content you can improve other people’s experience on the platforms.
So I’m back with the intention to focus on these aspects. And I’ve taken some steps to negate some of the detrimental ones. Firstly, I follow no one. So please don’t take it personally if I don’t follow you anymore. It’s just a tactic I’ve put in place to stop me from sliding into accidental mindless consumption. I also do not have Instagram on my phone (or Facebook or Twitter for that matter), so if you want to drop me a message, do it on Telegram.
Secondly, I’m posting less frequently. I used to try and post daily, in a quest to please the algorithm. I know by nothing bother I’ll reach less people, but I’m reaching more than I was whilst not posting at all, so let’s call that a happy medium.
Finally, I’ll also be posting slightly different content across multiple accounts and not all my best photos will make it to social, some will be saved for print and some will be saved for others platforms. Like this.
I think platforms like Substack and Telegram offer great solutions to the problems I have with social media: I can use them to get my content to people who are interested, for free, without forcing them to engage with addictive technology to keep up-to-date. They get a simple email or message when I have something new. They look when they’re ready and get on with their day. No slipping into addictive feeds. So I’ll continue to use them and hope that in time, others with similar feelings will see the benefits in these platforms too. But for now, it looks like the big players are here to stay.
How else to round this post off but with some shots from a recent swell that won’t be in a gallery on my website, or on social media any time soon. I’ll chuck a couple on my Telegram too. 🤙