Saturday, 6 June 2015

Social Media: Land Of Make Believe

So I updated a picture on a couple of social media channels recently, a rare personal one, and it sparked-off a few convos with many people curious as to where it was taken.
Image credit: LoboStudioHamburg

It’s funny seeing people pounce/start up a conversation as soon as you upload a picture, almost as if they’ve been waiting eagerly, bless 'em.

I don’t flatter myself though – I think it says more about their social media addiction than their fascination with me.

We all have that one social media outlet we favour. For me, it’s Instagram.

I go through phases with social media, though. Sometimes I’ll post regularly but when I start to find it exhausting, I ghost on there and find more useful things to do with my time. Because creating the perfect post, posting it online then dealing with the notifications… it feels like work.

Whenever I do post however, I post general lifestyle pictures - views, architecture, nature shots etc. The odd personal picture/selfie does make it on there sometimes but I guess because I don’t post those types of pictures too often, it piques people’s interest when I do.

It got me thinking how easily people are duped by social media and how curious they get when the story behind a picture is left a little ambiguous, or you stop posting as much. It’s strange how people want/expect to know every detail about your life.

The thing is, it’s so easy to construct an image on there. Even if it’s not an accurate portrayal of your life, people buy into it. I could be a manic-depressive, but you would never know judging by my posts.

I’m one of those odd types who is quite tech savvy but simultaneously a bit of a technophobe and about two years behind everyone else when it comes to joining social media and actively engaging in it, not to mention updating gadgets and downloading apps.

So when I first joined Instagram, I thought if I’m going to do it I might as well do it properly. Let’s see what the fuss is about. What’s so enjoyable about it? Plus, working in digital, you can’t really escape it.

And I must say, I’ve ended up finding Instagram quite enjoyable. Adding nice pictures, sharing experiences, playing around with filters. I can see how people find it a fun pastime.

You can also get creative with hashtags, which I try to have fun with and use to help tell the story behind a pic, especially if there's an odd/interesting vibe to the picture:




Usually though, I make use of hashtags to categorise and describe the location, because it allows people who might be interested in that place as well to find your image. You can get quite nostalgic viewing other people’s pictures, which can be a great reminder of some of the places you’ve been.

But I’ve noticed people hash-tagging the absolute SH*T outta photos, with tags that are often irrelevant to the pic. For example, #PolishGirl #Russian #Girl… on a pic depicting a view lol.

Prostituting "Polish girls" for likes? Nice.

Other hashtag offences include conceited hashtags (#PrettyGirl #Beautiful…just say so yourself) or hashtags pointing out the obvious (#sky #house).

It’s odd how thirsty people are for likes and followers – things that in a real-life context, don’t actually mean anything when you really think about it.

It’s obvious people just do this to get more likes on their photo. So I decided to see if this actually works. Call it a social experiment.

I went on a hashtag generator and copied and pasted a bunch of spam-like hashtags. I uploaded a pic, not even one of my best ones to be honest, and pasted the hashtags…literally, within 12 minutes that picture probably had the most likes a picture on my whole Instagram feed has ever received.

I felt a bit bad to all the people who liked the pic, almost as if they had been duped…so much so, I liked their pics back since it obviously makes them feel better.

I guess I can see why people play the game if they have genuinely stunning shots they want to share - it’s justifiable if you’re a photographer or promoting a business, brand or other online venture/blog. Because it does get your stuff out there and more people view it…even if it’s just long enough to like the picture, it catches people’s attention.

For narcissistic, self-absorbed people though whose self-esteem relies on it, I’m not sure it’s such a good thing.

Like I said, I try not to make my Instagram TOO personal as it’s a public page - online privacy etc. The millions of pictures of my adorable nieces and nephews are never going to find themselves on there, for example.

Most of my followers I think I acquired from sharing old pictures of my travels. Thus, it’s generally these shots that get the most likes on my page…the self-portrait pictures of me generally have the least likes. And rightly so, I mean why is a random on the internet going to give a sh*t about my mug? The handful of real-life friends I have on there though, or people I'm no longer friends with but still like to silently stalk, I'm sure appreciate the life update :P.
Three are sorry for all the holiday spam...

I think, if you’re going to be a social media whore, try to at least put high-quality stuff out there which justifies your frequent use. I mean I’m a blogger so I get it to a certain extent - there’s no point putting your stuff out there if there’s no-one to see it. But if you’re a heavy user just to show the world how gorgeous you are, to brag about your recent purchases, how many holidays you go on a year or how often you go out to eat, give it a rest.

Because that means you're the type of person giving people a real-time update of what you're up to. Which means you’re not truly living-in or experiencing the moment. And for what? To brag to everyone how exciting your life is? To check-in at an exotic location to make all your friends jealous? To select the right Instagram filter? It can wait, at least until the experience is over or when you're bored/waiting/killing time.

Don’t purposely interrupt a fun moment just so you can update social media, especially to brag about how much fun you're having... live in the moment and enjoy it instead.

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