Are you a social media slave? I know if I am not careful I run the risk of becoming one. The signs are already there! Like all addictions it takes you over without you even noticing. Until the behaviour just seems part of everyday life. No different from having a cuppa or brushing your teeth in the morning.
I’ll be honest, before I embarked on my wildlife and conservation journey. Social media had absolutely no attraction to me whatsoever. To me it was an excuse for people to walk around glued to a tiny screen and ignoring the world around them. In fact I used to comment to colleagues. “I swear to god, aliens could land three feet away from these people and they would not notice as they were too engrossed in “liking” someones Starbucks or Pret”.
We feel our lives are not real or seem dull unless we comment, like, tweet or pin on every single aspect of our daily routine. That and we feel the need to keep up with whatever person X, Y and Z are doing. Just in case they are having more “fun” than us.
Life before social media- yes there really was such a thing!
Before the days of the internet and mobile phones, getting your work out there was, and I speak from experience here, a bit of a chore! It meant having to phone agencies, company ad departments and marketing companies. And try to get to see the person who called the shots when it came on who to use for their marketing material.
It could be a soul destroying job. If you think dental receptionists are tough, just try agency ones! If your genre of photography was more artistic then you could try to have your work displayed in a gallery. This too is hard work and the cost of having images printed, mounted and framed not cheap. If you were fortunate enough to sell one, then there was the often eye-watering gallery commission.
Social media is born
Then the internet came along and with it platforms like, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Overnight, well maybe not literally, photographers had a free medium where they could reach a potential audience of 7 billion! What’s not to like?
Well, it is a very useful way to reach a new audience, but to my mind there are a couple of drawbacks to this new way of showcasing your work. Firstly is an image on the internet ever as good as a print? With a print, file size is of little consequence and you can control the output so the end result is as close to perfect as you can get. Images for internet use are subject to the constraints of relatively small file sizes. This is necessary to facilitate images to load quickly. Our need for instant everything means people will not wait for more than a few seconds.
Then of course compressed images means loss of clarity and detail. Although in fairness modern software does do a pretty good job. And of course every phone, tablet, computer screen and for that matter smart TV all display differently from your device. Colour temperature and user preferences vary a great deal and obviously this affects how your photograph is displayed to the viewer.
Here’s the trap I and I suspect many others fall into. The chase for likes and followers/friends etc. If one is not careful it can become an obsession, constantly checking to see how your latest image is doing. If it’s not performing as hoped, then quick stick another image up. Gradually you become that social media slave. Soon you can start to forget why you got into wildlife photography.
Was it to capture the pure beauty of the natural world or gain 500+ followers? Do you find yourself checking how your latest image is doing across all social media platforms? Do you feel the pressure if someone likes one of your images, you feel obliged to return the favour? Do you feel annoyed if someone unfollows you? I’ll level with you, I noticed I was falling into this trap, I was becoming a social media slave!
I calculated I was spending nearly 2 hours a day checking and updating my social media! That was 2 hours I could of spent editing, in the field, with the family or reading a book. I have now decided to greatly cut this time down. So now I try to spend no more than 20 minutes in the morning and the same in the evening. That’s 80 minutes a day back, or just over 6 hours a week, that’s a whole day a month to do something more productive or fun.
The funny thing is, since adopting this habit I can honestly say it has made no difference to my likes, followers, pins or anything else. Why not try it for yourself and claim back some of that precious time. And to quote a popular kids TV show “Go and do something less boring instead!”
PS don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Obviously only when it’s your social media time 🙂