The Post Motive: Evoking Envy or Sharing Your Art?
Lately I've been reading a lot of articles regarding the fakeness of Instagram and social media feeds in general. They've been criticized as being highlight reels. A curated collection of the images that an individual wants to share. A collection that creates a select, intentional image to your friends, your family and everyone else in the internet world. It's how you want the world to perceive you.
But is that a bad thing?
You can express yourself in many ways. Through your career choice, your style of home, your clothes, your art and so on. All of which are acts of self-expression. How you want to show up in the world. So, now with a virtual world, you also need to determine how you want to be perceived on the internet and all the platforms you subscribe to. How you want to show up in the virtual world, if at all.
I think the trouble comes, both in person and online, when it's not authentic. When it doesn't come from a place of self-awareness and mindfulness. When its intention is to create a fake image and to evoke negative feelings in others. To evoke envy. To evoke needs and wants. Or to evoke inadequacy through comparison. But it's hard to know where the line is. As almost any photo or post could evoke these negative feelings. So should I not share at all?
I'm selective about what I share. I share some aspects of my life and art (writing, photography, painting) through Instagram, Twitter and now this blog. And I love doing it. And this to me, is valuable. Because for me, art is meant to be shared. It allows me to be vulnerable, to practice and to grow. So not sharing at all, might not be the solution.
The onus isn't just on the publisher. It's a two way street. The publisher needs to be authentic. But the viewer needs to be social media smart and responsible. They need to acknowledge that many of these highlight reels are just that. Just reels. Not real. You even see Instagram accounts and hashtags like @youdidnotsleepthere popping up. This account points out the illogical places people place their tent for a photo. Places where it's not even possible or comfortable to camp. The tent is merely there for that Instagram photo.
The whole act of liking and social affirmation of your shared art work has taken its toll on creativity and authenticity as well. How many shots of the canoes at Lake Louise can you really get? In the article the Big Business of Adventure on Instagram, Paul Ziska, a photographer based in Banff speaks to this. He says "why is everybody coming here and shooting the exact same trophy shots?" Referring to the Banff National Park he adds "ninety-nine percent of the images come from the same ten locations."
It can be challenging, when certain images are motivated by the number of likes. Now, your image on social media can turn into a career. Young girls endorsing beauty products (I have issues with this). Or retired extreme athletes that can continue to have a revenue stream by sharing their everyday life through photos and strategically placed gear endorsements. As technology changes, so does the way we market. There's really no fighting it.
So in short. I don't yet have the answer. Sometimes it's obvious if I should or shouldn't post something, and whether it's aligned with my values. But other times, I'm left confused as to whether I want to be on social media at all. Sometimes I want to delete Facebook. Other times I want to share more photos on Instagram. It's likely another case of finding balance, being mindful and intentional with what I'm putting out there. And really, just being authentic.