I spent this morning with my coffee and Instagram, Facebook turned off for the sake of my spirit. More and more I wrestle with leaving Facebook. I’m not sure (m)any of us are wired for such a constant stream of hyperbole and hysteria. I know I’m not. It’s become so, so noisy and then I open Instagram, a social media site I long resisted, and it feels so quiet to me. I look at the work of other travelers and adventurers, people doing the things they love, and that I love and hunger to be doing. Instagram stirs that hunger in me. Maybe it’s just that I have a small, carefully chosen feed from other photographers. Maybe it’s that I don’t really read the comments. But it’s quiet. Like waking up early by a lake still covered in mist and listening to the loons, before others stir. Or maybe it just feels that way after all the noise and the “You won’t believe what happened next” and the regurgitated news.
I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I want to be hungry again, in that healthy way that is the recognition of longing. I want to be out in the wild again. I’m almost there – we leave for two and a half months in the Jeep at the end of this month. I want to be making photographs again and not just talking about making them, which I enjoy, but which does not feed my spark. And I want some quiet. Some white space in my life.
Then I discovered these: Artifact Uprising and Printstagram. I haven’t used either yet, but both can easily take your Instagram photographs and make a book, or prints, of it, and I wonder if that’s not the real potential of Instagram for me – a chance to curate and share my experiences, and then to turn those into small books – they used to call them chap books – and get my images into the real, physical world, to leave on coffee tables and enjoy without turning on another device. And all free from the noise that distracts me. A chance to focus on my hunger and not on hype. And in turn, if my work can create a hunger in others, I’ll have done my work.
What I really want, is to get back to that point where the photographs, much as I love them, are not the point. The experience is the point. The experience of being alive. Of seeing. Of making. Of sharing. And, in some way, of knowing that in doing so, the experience moves forward. Today I skipped Facebook and I looked at photographs of places I’ve been and I felt the surge of nostalgia, experiencing again the beautiful moments we all somehow forget to remember. These weren’t my photographs, but the work of others, and still they stir something in me. I want my work to do that for others. To stir a hunger.
For a long time Facebook has stirred something else in me, several something-elses, in fact, and I don’t sense any of them are good for me. Toxic is probably the word. Maybe it’s not about Facebook at all, maybe it’s just about me. I’m OK with that, too. Either way, this soul isn’t going to tend itself, and Facebook is suffocating me. I want to live outside, not online. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be here and on Instagram when I share, for the next few months.
Don’t look for brilliance here, or even a teachable moment. I just needed to say it. With all the noise of social media this has been the one place I’ve always been able to come back to and just be me. Thanks for letting me get it out. I feel better now.