I have been spending more time on Instagram in the past few months than on any other social media. I enjoy the visual impact and the brevity it entails. I also enjoy the debate it often generates. I enjoy following those people who react against the trends, who speak up against the pretty but unrealistic styling, against “personal branding,” against curating our lives to death, etc. These people think beyond what’s being served to them, beyond the rules that we’re told work, and they care more about their own personal stance and view of the world than about making it big by following in the footsteps of those who already did.
That being said, I can’t really do what they do. I can’t really speak with the same conviction because although I see the fault of trends, I also see their allure, and although I understand how they suck you in and make you “inauthentic,” I also value the aesthetic they often bring along.
I got sucked into minimalism. I like flat lays and tidy object arrangement photography. I like black and white. Uniforms. I don’t mind a good photo of coffee. Next to a book. Next to a pair of glasses, that obviously should rest on the photographer’s nose, not on the table. I admire clear, well-defined, well-constructed, honest (when I can tell) personal brands. I like a good photo of any kind. If it tells me a story.
It’s not all bad, is it? Obvious, painstakingly styled images are aplently, sure, but that’s the risk. I can recognize from afar a formulaic Web presence. Even then I sometimes cannot stay away, if it’s well done, with just a small dose of individuality, effort and intelligence.
There are always many followers of anything that has worked for someone at some time. Not everyone does it well. Not everyone succeeds all the time. And when we’re online, none of us is authentic. We’re someone we want to be. A construct. We’re always selling something online, in exchange for money or something else (I prefer the money, much more straightforward). We always have a purpose online. And I think it’s wonderful, especially since so many of us lack purpose in real life. But that makes us deceitful at times. At least by omission. And that is fine too, I think.
Curate and style all you want, I say, as long as you have a reason for it and that reason is apparent, so that I can make up my mind quickly if I’m interested. As long as I can tell that you strongly believe in what you’re selling. I don’t need much more than that.
I don’t have many pet peeves. Maybe none. But I know many people who do. They are opinionated, wonderful people, probably with tons more personality than I can handle. I find myself more often than not understanding all sides of a debate. Well, sure I do have my limitations there too, but they are pretty basic and common. I am not one to raise my voice on one side or another of a debate, usually, because most times both sides make sense to me. Sometimes it takes some work to reach there, but I strive for it. However, I am quite taken with people who can take unfaltering stands and defend their position as the only one of merit while deriding all others. How sparkly and fascinating they are! A bit judgemental, sure, and can put me off sometimes, but then, they can’t be perfect, or I’d probably hate them.
P.S. I am not making an argument here against taking stands. That is always a good thing and we should all do it. I just don’t know how necessary it is to try to prove that I can be right only when others are wrong. My voice might not be as thunderous when I don’t disparage others, and I might not get as many applauds from the crowds hungry for an adversary, but I hope I might stay closer to the truth and more humanistic, which is always my aim.