Cindy, my mom, Cindy's mom huddled around laptop. Lisbon, 2018

Why I’m Anti Facebook and Instagram

Blogging: in my opinion, one of the best ways of artistic self-espression:


What’s a blog?

First question: what is a blog?

A blog is a web log. Essentially an online log (record) of your activities, creations, ideas, pictures, videos, etc.

In the early days of the web (when I was high school, using Xanga to blog my thoughts), blogging was two things:

  1. An online diary of what you did that day and
  2. A platform for you to write articles, essays and share your own opinion about something

I remember my first encounter with a blog was Maddox; the first epic online viral blogger. Super politically incorrect (I still remember his post on the benefit of beating your kids, and wholly agreed), and his use of humor and intellect (how he used the word “inane”, and others were dumb enough to think he misspelled “insane”).

Anyways, consider blogging like the first Facebook or Instagram. You could post whatever you wanted; whether photos, text, audio, videos etc. Except the great thing about blogging in the early days were:

  1. You could customize the design and flavor of your own website/blog (Geocities). Even you could hack the HTML to design your own MySpace; whereas Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat, no real option exists (besides your profile picture).
  2. You could program, design, and build your own website/blog with HTML, CSS, etc. This allowed more novel creativity. More people used Adobe Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop to design and build their own website/blogs.
  3. You could build a blog on your own FTP server/platform, which means your blog was on a decentralized platform, where you couldn’t get censored. For example, one of the reasons I deleted my Instagram and no longer use it was because after one of my posts got removed; I realized Instagram was bad for my creative self-expression (and I think bad for all creativity for all artists in general, because it traps you into their box, literally).

Anyways, I look around myself, and feel a bit worried for humanity. More and more power is getting centralized into Facebook, Instagram, and Google. This means, there’s a monopoly over the control of information, which ultimately means that you as an individual creator have less power, because of the overarching “hegemony” of Facebook/Instagram, and these other tech behemoths.


Let me give you an example:

For the most part I’m anti Facebook and Instagram (Instagram is owned by Facebook). Why? In some ways, you’re strong armed into using their platform. Because they’re so dominant, you’re shooting yourself in the foot by not using their services. I’m lucky because my blog platform is strong enough to not use Facebook and Instagram. But if you’re a newbie digital creator/entrepreneur in today’s age, you’re going to have a really really hard time making a living from your passion if you don’t use Facebook /Instagram (although it’s still possible!)

Anyways, this is the problem: you optimize your creative output and sharing to cater to the algorithms of the “Facebook News Feed Algorithm” to optimize and maximize your “engagement”, likes, comments, and “reach”. If you post too often, you’re penalized. Also if you write controversial topics and share them, their algorithm isn’t going to favor your content.

Which is fine; but it becomes a problem once it subconsciously causes you to optimize your own creative output for Facebook and Instagram.

For example, photographers optimize for the single image; to maximize their likes, comments, and exposure to their work. Instagram adopted the Facebook news feed algorithm recently, which means that whenever you post something, not all your followers will see it in their stream/feed. In the past, Instagram showed your post to all your followers. No longer anymore.

Now, there no longer an emphasis on storytelling in photography through photo series, photo essays, or photo stories. I’ve been studying the work of the old school Magnum photographers like Robert Capa, David Chim Seymour, and Phillip Jones Griffiths and was amazed by the strength of their photo series work! Their work was powerful because of both the power of their single images, and the power of their series as a whole.

But today, photography is just a single image contest; who can make the most interesting single image, that will get the most likes? We’re living in a society where we feed ourselves on random single images; we listen to hit single songs (no longer full albums); almost like eating meals with no appetizers or desserts.


Anyways, the reason all of this is bad is this:

We become disempowered as individual creators.

My practical suggestion: make your own website and blog, and use an open source platform like WordPress.org or Drupal. And host it on your own FTP host, like bluehost.com or 1and1.com.

This is also beneficial because you can get “indexed” by Google, which will benefit you the long term. Also, you will have so much more creative freedom in terms of how to design your own website/blog, how to display and share your content, and you have the power to disable comments, disable advertisements, disable statistics, or enable them!

Realize with Facebook or Instagram; you cannot control whether people see advertisements when your followers are looking at your stuff; doesn’t that suck?


Boosting posts

I have close to 100,000 likes on my Facebook fan page, but I must pay Facebook money now to “boost” my posts, to reach my followers. The like numbers are pretty abysmal; a post I do might only get 10 likes. Of course I could get more if I “optimized” my posts for Facebook.

But the bigger danger is this:

What if one day, you must pay Facebook $100 to even have 10% of your followers see your post on either Facebook or Instagram? You’re gonna be screwed.

Right now we’re lucky that Instagram has good “organic” engagement numbers. But 10 years from now, it’s gonna just be another Facebook; polluted with advertisements and spam. Already now you see Facebook trying to incorporate more of Instagram into Facebook. Who knows, maybe one day both platforms will become merged into one mega app (just Facebook). It’s not implausible; remember when they made Facebook Messenger a standalone app? They might turn Instagram into Facebook, and only give you one option.


I can go on and on, but my practical suggestion is this:

  1. Don’t delete your Facebook or Instagram unless you want to. The less radical thing is to just use it less, and focus 90% of your efforts on your own website and blog and only 10% of your efforts on social media.
  2. If you don’t have your own website or blog, make one today. Use bluehost.com and use their easy WordPress 1 click install, and take the power into your own hands!

ERIC

To learn how to build your own website, blog, or platform, check out my “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Photography Entrepreneurship” course >

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