424 weeks ago I wrote this blog post about Instagram. I read it yesterday, mainly as a stimulus for me to write about Instagram today. Instagram has changed much in the past 424 weeks, and my relationship with it has too. And seeing as Instagram is where I go to get my fix of photography, both to consume and share, my relationship with photography has changed as well.
I am bored with photographs, but not with photography. If that makes sense.
I have for a long time been a little troubled with the consumption of photography and how it contrasts with the production of photography. I have a time limit set on Instagram for the amount of time I have the app open each day. 35 minutes. Just over a half hour I allow myself.
On the days I post a photo to Instagram that 35 minutes is taken up with thinking of a title to match the photo (and – as the saying goes: if it comes, it comes; if it won’t, it won’t), selecting the tags I think might result in best return in views and then once posted, I set about scrolling, tapping and commenting on the photos of those I follow. The scroll is swift. I tap, tap and the heart shoots off. I like to comment on the photos I like. I feel it is courteous to do so, but when I click on that little speech bubble, Instagram separates me from the photo I am commenting on. I would like to be able to see the photo as I am commenting. Very soon the 35 mins up notification comes. Do I close the app? Very rarely.
If I don’t post, I still use up the time limit each day swiping up on the feed and swiping through Stories, and through a recent change on Instagram, when searching for a contact or a type of photo I want to see, the Explore page pops up and I can find myself catapulted into a rabbit hole. While both the feed and stories are infested with inane ads, I prefer the experience on Stories. It seems more authentic and spontaneous and less packaged to return faves and likes in the way that posts are.
This year I have posted 58 times to Instagram.Years gone by I would have posted almost every day. The fun has gone out of it for me. Yet, the app just sucks me and keeps me beyond the 35 minutes I set myself most days.
Recently, in conversation with a good friend I was talking about how much of a cesspit Twitter had become. He asked me why I had Twitter. I found myself unable to give a good enough answer as to why. Three days later I deleted the app from my phone. I still have it on my laptop, but to my surprise I have rarely checked in on X on the laptop, as it is now called, since it went off my phone.
I have been thinking about doing the same thing with Instagram. But that is scary. I have seen photographer friends who got off the platform return soon after. The fear of missing out with Instagram is big. That dopamine hit it shoots you when you see that little red dot appear on that little white heart on the top right of the phone screen is just too rewarding. Throw into the mix the metrics and you are even more hooked. It is hard to grow followers on Instagram. I am hovering on the 8.2k number for about a year now. If I left, would I lose more?
But would it matter? Why should I care? Instagram may have started out as a photo sharing platform, but truth be known it was really just a photo viewing platform. It was all about the eyeballs. It has moved on so much. Latest talk is that to get an ad-free experience you will need to subscribe. Pay about 10 Euro a month for that privilege? I don’t think so.
I have been saying to myself for many years now that I want to stop, take stock and make sense of the work I have created over the past decade or so. I have tens of thousands of photographs that I have shot. But I keep shooting. In this year alone, I have shot at least 10K images.
I started back out on this blog as a promise to myself. It began as a new year’s resolution in September of this year. Maybe I should make another new year’s resolution and get the hell off Instagram and into my own work before it is too late.
Photographs or photography? I am bored with photographs, but not with photography.
Dublin Street Photography Workshop – Saturday, June 29th (Pride weekend – will be brilliant for street photography)