Netbarf and Other Ills Have Me Logging Off Social Networks


As a photographer, artist, and mature adult, I am slowly tiring of social networking sites. There are just too many of them; they consume too much of my time; and they do little for me as a promotional tool. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, on and on; it’s endless. There may be something of value in them for some people. But for me, there are just too many problems.

Problem No. 1: Netbarf

I invented this word. Netbarf is the spew of networkers who seem to have to say something every 5 minutes. Don’t these people have lives? Do I really want to know what they are doing every 5 minuets? Frankly, I don’t care. For one thing, I personally know very few of my online “friends;” and even if I did know them, I am not interested in what they are doing every minute.

Go back to the Age of Telephones that ended 10 years ago. Would you have a friend who phoned you constantly to tell you what he or she was doing? At some point you would tell them to get help and hang up, never to take their calls again. I make it a habit to drop any contact who posts more than twice a day—and that is very generous.

Problem No. 2: The Cause

A lot of networkers use these sites to promote their politics, charities, friends, and businesses. Since I am politically aligned with most of my “friends” who post on these sites, there is no reason to preach to the converted. Those who promote their friends’ work are of no interest to me either, for their comments lack sincerity. (I promote you if you promote me: big deal.) As for charities, I have my own list of favorites.

Problem No. 3: It’s All About Me

The balance of networkers seem only interested in telling me what they are doing and do not care what I am doing. That is not interaction; it is self-promotion. People who are not well known (including probably myself) want to be recognized by those who are. It only makes sense but it seems to me that those people who are well known usually have very little time for anybody else.

Simple test: Contact a well-known Facebook friend and ask a question about your career. You probably will never get an answer. Ask them a question about their career or technique and it’s 50/50. Ask them to meet you for coffee and it’s 100% you will be ignored.

Facebook frustrations, Pinterest pinching

I actually am on Facebook (dsaxe). I usually post a photograph of mine once a week and write something brief about what I saw or felt when I took it. The only personal responses I usually get are from those friends I know personally. From the rest of my so-called friends I might get a few clicks of the Like button.

I am on Twitter but I hardly ever look at it. The reason is that I cannot read it because it is always updating with new tweets and so the screen keeps jumping. Perhaps in the wee hours of the night, fighting insomnia and drinking cognac, I might open my iPad and see what is going on. I have more than 150 Twitter followers, but I really have no idea who they are. They are mostly connected to me through photography but I have no idea what kind of photographers they are. There are just too many of them to check it out in detail.

I joined Pinterest (rhymes with plagiarism) a while back and posted a few photographs of mine. A week later I noticed that they had migrated to other sites and there was no credit. No credit means that any cheapskate looking for a cheap image can grab one and not pay for it. It might have happened to me but it’s unlikely I will ever find out. Tumblr is interesting when I am in a mood to just look at pictures — pictures of anything. But as a business tool I find it somewhat useless and no longer upload my pictures there.

What about a real relationship?

Have you found yourself sitting in a restaurant and gazing over at the next table to see a group of adults sitting together, all looking at their cellphones and ignoring each other? Are they relating to each other? Not! They are hiding, taking refuge in their telephones and tablets to avoid what a lot of people fear more than anything: face-to-face contact.

I managed to build a successful advertising and communications business without using social networks. I found that the best way to connect with people is to actually meet them — by going to meetings, cold calling, and hanging out in the right circles. In my case, I found that a better way of connecting with people was by learning to play golf.

For any of you aspiring photographers who want to build your businesses, consider this advice: Talk to people directly. When you address someone directly in conversation, there is a good chance they may be listening to you. If you do it via social network sites, they might read you but they will rarely respond. If you look at your Facebook “friends” list” you might notice that a lot of these people have thousands of friends. Do they really have time to see what you are up to? Do they really care?


13 Responses to “Netbarf and Other Ills Have Me Logging Off Social Networks”

  1. So then why did you send out a tweet about this blog post? Isn't that "self promotion?"

  2. I did not send a tweet. The publisher/editor probably did. In fact I never Tweet or Facebook any of my posts on this site. There is nothing wrong however with self-promotion as long as you understand that is what it is. Lets just not call it "making friends".

  3. I can't figure if this post is a pun of for real. Maybe if the author follows up with another on the evils of digital & how good the film days were, I'll get it ;)

  4. I'm with you here David. The real work you get comes from real interaction, not a blast of meaningless 1s and 0s into cyberspace. I know of one guy, a beginning shooter, who got so wrapped up in all of the social media stuff that he almost gave himself a stroke. And he didn't pick up a camera sometimes for a two week stretch. That's sad. I told him he should get going on a small promotional mailer for some clients he wanted to target - they still work for me - all of that went out the window in favor of "free" tweeting, tumbling, FBing. He spent entire days with that crap and got nowhere with it. Now he's ready to sell his cameras - wife's orders.

    What bothers me about the photo world of blogs and social media is the constant regurgitation of press releases and stuff that others have already done. It seems that the desire to "go viral" has overcome dedication to the craft and honing a proper business model. We'll eventually wind up with a back and forth flying barrage of bullsh&t with very little meaningful work actually being done.

    My own thoughts on the stuff here

    http://ohnostudio.com/2012/02/no-i-dont-need-to-get-pinned/

    The best ever quote I found on the whole subject:

    “So many people jumping up and down on the sidelines waving their arms around trying to get noticed…”

  5. Heres the issue I see; I see so many people complaining about all these social network websites...but who twisted their arm to join them? Its certainly easy to leave them, more so if you derive no benefit from them.

    By promoting my business on such websites...why would I be preaching to the converted? Obviously people that have subscribed to my page obviously have a reason for being there, clients like to see their 'teaser image' following a photo session, their friends (whom may not be subscribers to my page, may not have heard of my before...but now there's that 50/50 chance of getting a new client). I'm more than aware some of my subscribers are photographers like myself, some of us simply like to see what each other is up to, perhaps like an idea enough we see to derive inspiration...but now I deviate from the topic.

    I do converse with people online, whether it be by email, or Facebook, or Google+ ...and I do get a response. In fact its quite active in that respect...and yes, I have asked people to meet for coffee, and they have accepted. Perhaps if you find this isn't the case for you, maybe you need to change that friends set?

    If you hadn't read about pinterest and what it was about before uploading...only yourself to blame. The whole premise of pinterest is re-pinning...whether it be for inspiration or whatever conceived notion the person dreams up...but really, you expected credit?? did you watermark your images before uploading them? At least that way, someone might have enough curiosity to check out your website and see other work by you

    I see so many berating Facebook for not being useful for business...I would estimate Facebook has more than a good share of the internet time daily...to ignore it for business promotion is sheer folly. Those teenagers today...will be brides and grooms in the future, young entrepreneurs beginning their own business....if you hadn't noticed, the majority of today's teens and young adults spend the majority of their time on their mobile devices...there's a reason that market is phenomenally competitive and lucrative....

    but if I'm sitting in a restaurant...and all I'm doing is people watching....then I'm not doing anything useful with my time...that aint gonna get my business noticed!!

  6. You would have to be somewhat self inflated to tweet and FB and assume all the people you are connected to on these platforms are avidly awaiting and reading your tweets and FB updates. But the same is somewhat true of phone calls made over 10yrs ago, the difference is these days we can ignore or unfollow people that bug us whereas with calls we need to have ‘social grace’ and feign some interest in hearing our friend bang on about their career, partners or other friends. The advantage of indirect contact is people will pick up on what they are most interested in which we all have to accept may not necessarily be us or our work at that particular time. The fact that you want to organize a meeting or make a phone call and update someone on all your news doesn’t exclude the possibility that the person is rolling their eyes and thinking ‘oh God, him again!’.

  7. Could not agree more. I've been thinking this for a while now, especially true on twitter with photographers posting endless "Just booked another wedding, only 2 dates in June left" or "That's 6 weddings booked in May next year" or "Great engagement shoot, pics to follow" If it mentions the person you had the engagement shoot with then fair enough, but you're essentially trying to show off that "I just had an engagement shoot and to who? Other photographers? Because that's all that follows you on Twitter.

    I've taken to at least turning off all notifications on my phone from social networks which helps as I just (like you) check them when I feel like it. But it is all entirely self promotional crap that litters your stream. One up's man ship gone crazy. But then this type of action even pervades Facebook amongst my friends, all posting updates to where they are, what they're doing, all trying to get the biggest response. What happened to just enjoying where you are without feeling the need to broadcast it to everyone. The best one was "6 month scan done, pics to follow soon" I mean that's a private moment in my opinion that you share with someone in person. It's minor celebrity thinking.

    I think my next step is to actually DM everyone either following me or who I'm following asking them a question about what they do and trying to weed out people that genuinely want a conversation. Social media can be great when a genuine conversation comes about with everyone putting their opinions across, but how often does that happen?

    Rant over. :P

  8. Different folks, different strokes. Some people have real use for these social networking sites and some don't. Some people would condemn the use of mobile phones but not the use of telephones. It all boils down to how you use those things.

    The important thing in any medium is the manner in which we communicate. And like you said, one needs to be in the right circle -- apply that to your social networking sites.

  9. David
    Your post got me thinking. It reminded me of another forgotten aspect from the ancient times. It was a damn lot of fun meeting people for coffee or lunch and stuff. I really enjoyed it. Granted, I couldn't "touch" 100 people at the same instant but it all felt so good.

  10. There's a really, really simple solution if you don't want to know what someone on Twitter had for lunch.

    Don't follow people who tweet about what they had for lunch.

    A ton of smart people use social media to post interesting ideas and link to interesting stories.

    If your social media feeds are boring, you're doing it wrong.

  11. @RJP - does one person really settle to communicate using social networking sites? In my observation, it would depend on the person and to whom he/she is communicating with.

    I'd rather meet a close friend personally than just be OK with sending her a message in FB.

    The ancient times is still here.

  12. Good point, David. I do use facebook, but only because I live 2000 miles west of the folks I grew up with and went to school with. My local "friends" are very different. They post on Facebook every few minutes and drive me nuts.

    On the positive side of Facebook, just about three hours ago I did manage to contact one of my old college room mates whom I have not communicated with in nearly 40 years.

    The social sites do have good points, but also, they are very much abused. Sometimes I refer to Facebook as "Whiner's Alley".

  13. I agree. The whole internet is a virtual world not to be taken to seriously. A business doesn't exist because of the internet it exists through contacts in the real world. FB is nothing more than a bit of fun to be taken with a pinch of salt.

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