This image is one of the men in the "Four Captives" sculpture at the Louvre. I don't know why the bound hands stood out to me during my visit earlier this year, but this is what I focused on and photographed. Coincidental for this post, but nonetheless the exact feeling I've had about social media in the last year. I started paying attention more to content and noticed a particularly alarming, but not surprising, trend when it comes to Instagram and most social media sites....self importance.

I believe that the things we give space in our life to need to hold value. They have to mean something, enrich us, encourage us. Instagram, in the beginning, was a beautiful source for things that I enjoy, beautiful photography, cooking, travel, but as the years have gone by it's shifted from what was once an enjoyable platform to use to one that isn't. I think for me it's particularly hard to be part of something where there is so much blatant misrepresentation and fake ness. For six months I weeded out those who I had previously followed, those who pretended to be something they weren't, those whose profile standards were anything but (based on my experience), those who went through my list and followed all of the teenagers (whom I don't even follow) and close friends who have nothing to do with photography that follow me, (creepy, right? I'm still trying to figure out WHY people do that but let me just say that if someone is following over 1000 people they probably are a creep) but it still didn't change, for the most part, of what I was seeing. If this was a platform that allowed you to ONLY see work from those who you followed, that would be amazing. But it's not, because, well, narcissism is big business. Let me be clear to my friends and colleagues, if I follow you, you hold value you in my life because you are real, you stand for something and you respect others and although I don't see your posts, IF I ever go back to the Gram, you're the only ones I want to see things from.

It's interesting to me that you can buy followers to add another layer to the pretend to be something you aren't. Or that you develop significant amounts of followers because you've objectified someone that sparked interest on your page, not because of who YOU are, but because of someone YOU USED to be recognized. Read that again. I'll take that back when someone can prove a viral post that didn't objectify a female or a child. (Yes, close ups of women's breasts or butt bouncing in certain movement is 100 percent objectification). Some sports spaces are notoriously bad for that because, unless you are actually employed by the organization, there are zero parameters or code of conduct expectations. (This is a plug for background checks and vetting for ANYONE who is granted access to photograph when clearly the rules aren't followed anyway. Safe sport is great but if someone who has been fired without charges for sexual harassment safe sport means absolutely NOTHING). Athletes don't care because they don't really pay attention to it. I've asked. I had a very frank and long discussion with an athlete who could speak for most when they said free images are free and if it's something that they don't like they just ignore it. I disagree with that because complacency when someone is being objectified is almost as bad, but hey, you're getting free images right? Oh, and creators, if you know someone is like that and relishes their social media popularity due to content that is questionable, you're just as bad too. Let me be clear, this isn't a standard in other professional spaces but sadly has become one and becoming more common as people chase that clout high. If an athlete has no issues with content done a certain way, that choice is theirs and theirs alone, but that is not up to us to make the decision for them. Ever. And this is what I am tired of. Tired of seeing that. Tired of creators thinking that is okay. Tired of creators pretending they are something they aren't. Just tired of it. I also know I am not the only one is who is tired of it, I'm just one of the few who isn't afraid to address it.

It's been almost a week since I took IG off my phone and it's been fantastic. The fact that so little value can be found in whatever takes your time should be a wake up call. Twitter, despite all of the complaints isn't anything compared to IG and it's refreshing. You just click on the "following" tab and that's all you see. Real content I want to see and engage in. I don't use TikTok and I already limit Facebook. If I want to see content for things I enjoyed on IG, I go to their website. Or visit on FB. Or, I just message them and ask how they are doing.

I can't imagine what it'll be like in 30 days. After 7, I can say, unequivocally, that there isn't anything I missed out on, which reiterates that value is not to be found there.

Friends, find value. The realness in life isn't based on the likes and followers you have but the connection, in REAL life, you have and those who are important to you. Value will never been pretending to be something you aren't. Be real.

Real is rare. Fake is everywhere. Let's stop encouraging fake to trend, shall we?