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?