This story is a modern-day version of one of Aesop’s most famous fables, The Goose and the Golden Egg. But instead of geese and golden eggs, it’s with Instagram and likebots.
[ If you’re not familiar with The Goose and the Golden Egg, basically a farmer discovers one of his geese lays golden eggs. After a period of tremendous profit, the farmer becomes greedy and kills the goose to get the eggs inside, but instead he finds nothing and is left with a dead goose and no income. He then becomes poor. I forget the rest.]
So, if you’re a photographer, you use Instagram to market yourself. That’s a given nowadays. There’s 500 million daily users and it’s by far the best platform out there for sharing photos. In order to “break through the noise” however, it can be tempting to use various tactics to automate time-consuming, yet important processes such as liking other people’s pictures.
Instagram, like all other forms of social media, has its rules. The reason for these rules is to prevent the community from turning into a spam-infested wasteland (see Twitter).
Long story short, I used a program to automate the like process. Instagram sets limits on the amount of likes one account can dish out per hour and I crossed the line last Thursday at about noon. I was placed in Instagram purgatory and I was banned from liking photos for an indefinite amount of time. I’m here today to recap what a traumatic experience that was for me.
Thursday, 12:00pm: “Omg. I can’t like posts anymore. What’s this? I’m temporarily banned? For how long?? Omg… .”
For the next several hours, I obsessively tried to like pictures and all I could see was that terrifying pop-up. It’s especially stressful because IG doesn’t tell you how long you’re blocked for. Reddit and other sources said that it could be anywhere from 24 hours to a few weeks…
As the day progressed, I only became more distraught. “What if I can’t like photos for weeks?”, I thought. I told my friend Edin Chavez about the situation and all he did was make fun of me. Great. I pressed the “report a problem” button but that didn’t seem to do anything. I stood in my dark room, gazing through a window into the abyss, wondering what the meaning of life was.
Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night. But as 5:00 am approached, I seemed to get a second wind. I thought to myself, “I’m going to get some badass photos today I don’t even care.”
As I left my house, I don’t remember thinking about Instagram. I don’t remember really thinking about anything. I remember just driving, with no real destination. I took a turn towards Key Biscayne and drove a few miles over some bridges. By this time it was about 6:50 am and the sun was going to come up, so I took the first left turn I could and ventured into Crandon Park. I remember being super f*cking excited at what I saw:
The world was beautiful and vibrant again. As I walked back to my car, I felt a sense of bliss. I took out my memory card and uploaded the photo, then sent it to my phone. I uploaded the pic to Instagram.
Then, I tried to like a photo again. It worked. Hallelujah.
In total, I was in IG timeout for about 18 hours. During those 18 hours I realized that not being able to use the like feature on Instagram exposed a deep void in my soul. It showed me how much of my happiness was derived from social media notifications. Like a lab mouse receiving a pellet.
This story is somewhat an exaggeration, but seriously… I forgot why I take photos in the first place for a second. I take photos because it’s cool and I like it. Plain and simple. Social media is a channel for people to communicate and share these photos– which is great. But if you just let your brain go on autopilot, you’ll spend more and more time checking status updates and chasing a superficial high. The deep and lasting happiness that comes from the adventure of life and taking pictures gets forgotten.
Anyway. Thanks for reading. Use social media responsibly. Everything in moderation.
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