The social media trap

Facebook
Google Plus
Twitter
Flickr
500px
Pinterest
DeviantArt
Pixoto
Linkedin
StumbleUpon
Digg
Reddit
Tumblr
WordPress
del.icio.us
Scoop.it
+ some forgotten one’s.

If you’re like me you probably get fed up by only looking at that list.

Being a passionate photographer and blogger / person that likes the idea of social media is a lot of work. It takes a lot of time and energy to maintain all the services that we usually use to spread our word, our work, our photographs, ideas and creative thoughts. There are some fantastic tools out there that can get your work visible for the rest of the world, but they all lack proper integration with each other.

Working a fulltime job that I love and trying to maintain my hobby (photography mainly) is a lot of work. A few months ago I got tired of it all. But only recently did I notice that it isn’t making photographs that I got tired of. It was the constant work and time required to maintain all of the social media services that I used to show my work to the world.

Social media basically took the fun out of my hobby

The list you see above is all the services that I used to publicize my photographs and articles online. On some of them you have to enter tags and titles manually (StumbleUpon: I’m looking at you). A few of them offer some automation, and some of them integrate some what well with each other. Publicizing the work is only half of the work though. You also have to maintain users, friends, acquaintances, user lists, etc. on all of them – separately.

I recently decided to slim down on my own use of social media and websites to publicize my work. My list now looks like this:

  • Facebook. I mainly auto-publicize new articles and images from my WordPress blog to my Facebook page. That’s it.
  • Twitter. I automatically share Facebook posts and WordPress blog posts on Twitter without having to touch Twitter manually.
  • WordPress. My blogging platform. My blog is my primary platform for showing my work and articles.
  • Tumblr. I never go to the Tumblr website. But I have a Tumblr site that I auto-publicize to from my WordPress platform.
  • Google Plus. I usually never use Google Plus at all, but again, I auto-publicize to G+ from WordPress.
  • Flickr. My main photography hub. I upload all my images here, and organize them in collections, sets and groups.
  • LinkedIn. Purely for work. I stopped publicizing any personal / hobby related articles here as I plan to start a separate technology blog related to the technology I work with which I will publicize on LinkedIn.

That’s it. The list is a bit shorter and I stopped using many services. I also configured auto-publicize in WordPress so that it automatically does a lot for me once I hit “Publish”. I love it.

Let me explain why I ditched a few services that I previously used:

  • 500px. Looks good, nice interface, lot’s of images. But the curators at 500px favors extreme photo editing / retouching and manipulation above what I call photography. Most of the featured photographs are landscapes and HDR images that just look fake and over-cooked in my eyes. The website just didn’t fit my style of photography, and there are no community on 500px. I find that Flickr is much better at everything, so why maintain two websites? 500px lost this one. My profile will stay but I won’t put any effort into it.
  • StumleUpon. Only about 0.5% of my hits came from StumbleUpon. It’s not worth spending time to manually enter titles, tags and comments in addition to having to select categories and stuff for that small amount of publication.
  • DeviantArt. Very artsy and was very good a few years back. This is actually the only service I have used where I actually sold some prints. It doesn’t fit my style of photography any longer though. Otherwise a great service for creative people.
  • Scoop.it. Horrible interface. Slow curators. It’s just not worth the time.
  • Reddit. I haven’t received a single referer hit from Reddit.
  • Digg. Same as Reddit.
  • Pixoto. Seriously. I am not into photography for the sake of competing with others in “photography knock-outs”. Personally I find the idea stupid.
  • Pinterest. I got a lot of hits from Pinterest in the beginning but lately nothing. Not worth the time.

Lately I also stopped caring about how many comments, favorites, views, hits and what-not I received on my photographs. I realised that I enjoy photographing for me – not for you. I really appreciate nice comments and feedback on my work and I am truly happy if you like some of my work but that isn’t why I walk around with my camera and make pictures. I do it for me and me only. I have no ambitions about becoming a pro photographer, and I have no plans trying to sell any of my work at any time.

My only motivation is to have fun and enjoy what I do

If the social media aspect of your hobby or passion is feeling more and more like work, and your hobby is becoming less fun because of it – do yourself a favor and shorten the list of social media services that you use. Focus on publicizing your work on the top five services where your work is appreciated and dump the rest. It’s liberating and it will make you focus more on what you love to do.

  • Refreshing read! In large, it corresponds to what it has boiled down to for me too. My list of social is even shorter than yours, and consists of Google+ for social photosharing, Flickr for sets and collections, Facebook for family and relatives and Twitter…for no proper reason, actually 😉
    I haven’t discovered your blog before now, but I look forward to following you! I’ve actually been thinking of making a “photography manifest” on my blog, and inspired by your post here it will probably become my next posting 🙂

    • Thanks! I really appreciate your feedback 🙂
      I am trying to shorten my social networking list more in the future as well. I just need to find out which services to keep.
      Looking forward to following your blog as well!

  • You’ve articulated something I’ve been feeling for ages (and just blogged about myself) – maybe we should call it techno-ache. I’ve noticed that even the blogging world is getting as bad as Facebook in terms of randoms liking a blog seemingly just so you’ll go look at theirs and like it back. It’s like the empty friend phenomenon on fb. (Apologies to anyone who has actually read my blog and genuinely liked it!) I find it soul-destroying to have to trawl around the blogosphere and hit like dozens of times to just to increase traffic to my own blog. Surely it is better to speak to a few people deeply than just barge about aggressively looking for popularity. Great photos and thoughts.

    • Thanks for your great response!

      It is really annoying. I have seen so much shit that gets much more attention and appreciation than truly talented people ever do. I guess talent doesn’t matter that much any more, it’s more about successfull marketing. I mean, just look at Justin Bieber.

      • Yeah, and to top it all off it’s become almost cool to be as fake as possible. Facebook is so blatantly about faces, about how we want to appear to others, so people inevitably end up obsessing over how the rest of the world sees them, without really aiming to be happy within themselves. It should be renamed Fakebook. Or Facevalue. Happily there seems to be a backlash happening. Glad that we are a part of it!

        • Many people expect other people (or things) to make them happy.
          In my experience very few people understands that happiness comes from within.
          Another person or a thing might make you happier but it won’t make you happy.

          People obsessing over shopping this and that, buying this and that, doing this and that, being in a relationship with him or her, etc… Unless a person is happy with himself he won’t be happy even though he marries that girl, gets a porsche, gets that dream job, or whatever. Fakebook and and the obsessive Likes mentality is usually an extension of a sad mind.

          • Couldn’t agree more! All that primping and fussing seems like so much insecurity. I just hope that amid the deepening fakeness crisis across our species there is a parallel awakening to exactly what you mentioned.

  • Pingback: The 5 Most Important Websites your Photos Should Be On | Sarasota Tim()