It's been awhile since I've done one of these "answers to emails blog posts"...now seems like a really good time to get into that. One of my regular readers who emails me every now and then recently asked why my social media presence isn't bigger and would I like her assistance in building engagement on my instagram profile. So...my answer was "no, I'm good" to the last question. No reflection on her, based on what I've seen of the work she's done for others it seems to me that at the very least the social media thing is something she mastered very early on. Read On to find out how and why I answered the first question.
I follow the work of fellow photographer who's more of a fine artist in my opinion. I love his outlook on photography and the way in which he views it as a craft. Check out his on-line home ROBERT RODRIGUEZ JR.
He writes in a recent BLOG post "I’ve grown to see social media as a potential black hole of distraction for me, one that I want to avoid". My sentiments exactly, though once upon a time I was convinced otherwise. In fact I'm gonna show my age right now...I started on the internet before there was anything close to social media. When the "idea" of social media came around I started using ICQ as my chat application on my computer and then MySpace...oooh sh*t, remember that??
I'm not easily distracted. When I'm doing something my entire focus is on that task and you would have to drop a hammer on my toes to take me away from it until I'm ready. I've never had trouble tuning out social media but it came with years of practice and I know it's something I want to avoid spending too much time on each day.
Right around the time I was setting up my personal MySpace page something happened that soured me on sharing too much personal information. My identity was stolen and it happened because I allowed it. I filled out a long form once and placed it in a cardboard box like all the other young people in line ahead of me did. Somewhere along the line that cardboard box was intercepted or shared with others who promptly opened up credit cards, bank accounts etc. I didn't know a thing until years afterwards when collection companies started sending me letters. Quite a shock to me since I'd never even bought anything from Danier Leather let alone applied for one of their store credit cards. Long story short...it took years to clean that up. To this day I sill have one telecom company asking for repayment for internet services at an address I never even lived at. I was lucky.
That experience taught me a hard lesson about trusting people you don't really know with your personal information. In the best of circumstances it takes a lot for me to trust anyone. The people that have it, earned it over many years of showing me true friendship. Nothing, not even disagreement breaks that trust once earned. How then would I square sharing with people I've never even met.
Lately I've noticed a real shift where social media is concerned.
In the not too distant past everyone and their cousin were writing articles about increasing social media engagement. "It will help your business" blah blah blah. Guess what... some person in Hungary liking one of my images on instagram will not increase my earnings a single bit. They will never likely be a client. Frankly, if it's strictly about the images it will be stolen and used without my permission anyway. I've had that happen more times than I care to count. That's why I've stopped placing copyright info on my images...what's the point. Thanks for the "Like" though.
Then came the big revelation recently that Facebook "SELLS" it's user data and makes no distinction to whom. You have money? They will sell it to you. So all the personal information you feed into the platforms over the years is in the hands of people you likely wouldn't approve of. Had a difficult point in your life and poured your heart out on-line? Guess what...You may have moved on but it's still there ready for someone to exploit. I've curtailed my use of Facebook years ago and that was the main reason. I wouldn't give someone I know fairly well a whole lot of sensitive information about myself let alone a person I've recently met.
Interestingly I logged into my bank account to pay a few bills and greeting me on the main account page was a breakdown of how I spent "MY" money over the past month. That chilled me to the bone. Why does my bank need to know how much I spend on wine and rum, taxi services and entertainment. I don't even recall giving them permission to collate my personal business in that manner. Some may not mind all that...maybe it helps them keep track of their spending but I resent it.
I'm an increasingly private person but I like sharing images and video on-line. The only goal is for someone to enjoy them, maybe even learn something and while they may generate income or interest in my work, that's just icing on the cake. I balance that with keeping too much personal information from seeping into that process. The world is filled with people who don't have your best interest at heart and they will use anything you provide them to harm you...often for no other reason than "They Can". That harm can be financial or maybe your information used to influence others...as we saw in the last U.S.A elections.
The real risk as I see it: Social Media robs the unaware of living in the moment. I would rather go outside and take a walk, camera in hand than swipe through someone's instagram checking out every image and seeing who their followers are etc. To me, those poor souls who's life only exists in the latest smartphone are missing the point...it's just aspirational, meant to inspire them to live the fullest life they can.
My tried and true method has worked for me for many years...pick up the phone and call someone who I think needs my services. Every now and then one of these contacts will connect me with other entities outside of my base area...that's always cool when it pans out. I like seeing new places and cultures. I maintain a high level of engagement with past clients because of the established relationship. Even if they aren't hiring me on a project for whatever reason, they ask my opinion or even recommendations for third parties.
One or two people recently have referred to it as me..turning on the charm. Ok, I'll take that, it's better than being sour and going about my job wearing an "I'm not happy face". What some people do on their instagram page to win followers is a thing I employ in my daily life. Call it charming but I expect to get in front of clients because they like my attitude, my work and the relationship with me.
To be frank...I haven't seen a social media platform that can replace that. Not for me anyway.