None Shall Pass

It usually starts with a Tweet…

And Noise Professor does the rest…

His quick Photoshops of images and ideas give Antonella and I endless enjoyment. I almost feel guilty given how one-sided the relationship is, but I have to assume he gets something from it. But a few things have changed in my online habits recently. While hanging out with Timmmmyboy in Italy back in August, I made the quiet jump to Instagram. He left Twitter a while ago and has not looked back, I still frequent Twitter, but it has become a more and more distant relationship for me. I peak in regularly, but I’m making a concerted effort to refrain from serious conversations or too much energy expended. The platform has gone the way of the country that spawned it: there’s still so many awesome things there and I can’t abandon it entirely just yet, but the cost to one’s sanity is real. It’s kinda painful for me because Twitter had been the locus of much of my online community for almost 10 years—with ds106 really being the center of it all. That had slowly begun to change the last few years, but with Brexit and the 2016 presidential election in the U.S., it felt like Sauron had returned to Middle Earth.

The has found its way into Instagram

So, I joined Instagram —not exactly a radical departure from convention, but rather an almost puritanical backsliding. I had sworn off Instagram from the beginning with their Facebook relations, inability to download images, and other typical proprietary, social media platform bullshit. But taking pictures has become my single biggest hobby while living in Italy, and while I am still on Flickr, I am definitely a shoot and publish TV baby. I usually do major Flickr uploads every couple of months, and then spend hours wading through them adding titles, appropriate privacy settings, and then hitting publish. I think of Flickr as an archive not a publishing platform.

What’s more, I am following my community to Instagram (as I did with Twitter 10 years ago) and like Twitter at the beginning it feels small and intimate. I also have a very different community than I do on Twitter, made up almost entirely of friends and family. Unlike my nieces and nephews who seem to have 100s of followers but just 3 or 4 images on Instagram that are very carefully selected profile images, I am my usual  firehose self when it comes to posting. I just post and post. I know they’re thinking to themselves, damn, he is doing Instagram all wrong—which is kinda fun for me. In fact, my family and friends are the audience, which is quite different then who I am/was on Twitter. I told myself once I get to 100 images posted that I will make the relationship more official and actually blog it. And so I have.
Luckily, whether Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or Tumblr or whatever, none of it ever seems longterm to me. If I really want it to last it goes on my blog. Instagram feels like a fun, intermediary step to share my photos, but I am still looking for the longterm sharing/archiving fix. Flickr has served the archiving role well for me when it comes to images, but I fear for its future. Twitter was where I had been sharing my one-off photos up and until August, but it has become apparent it is no longer the right place for them any more. It was like hanging up personal portraits in a burning building.

There were many reasons to get out of the U.S. for me, but a big one was to re-think my relationship to work. For the most part my work habits and general lifestyle in the US were not healthy. I was consumed with the web and my small place on it, and Twitter was definitely a large part of that. It was undoubtedly a blast while it was happening, and some amazing things and awesome relationships came of it. But truth be told it isn’t fun for me anymore. It’s been a long goodbye these past couple of years, but with phasing out posting images it’s just about done for me. I’ll keep it around for posts and the random bits from folks I love and various movie and scifi accounts I follow, but beyond that I pretty much plan on being a ghost like I am on Facebook.

I can only thank the amazing Simon Ensor for putting me side-by-side with Charlton Heston as Moses on Instagram—this is a sign of the fun I was missing on Twitter save for Noise Professor—who has been true blue through and through. Who knows, maybe even Zack will find his way over, though how long can I keep going to that well? Regardless, the steady decline of Twitter can’t erase the amazing things that happened there for me: endless conversations about all things GIFs, ds106, ds106radio, and maybe even some other things. But nothing gold can stay, and it’s always good to retreat with those fond memories in tact.

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3 Responses to None Shall Pass

  1. Alan Levine says:

    I love seeing your photos in Instagram and it is convenient to enjoy them without parsing from all the other noise and flow of twitter. It does work well for a subset of people you care about.

    By no means will I defend twitter as a virtuous place. But still, I could list each day something valuable I got out of the place. I would not have known of the status of our friend in Puerto Rico in another place. Maybe email. I find weird and useful references all the time. So we all do the equations on the value to pain ratio, it’s not the same for anyone. But it’s not because of the platform, it’s how we choose to use the platform. So I do everything to avoid the sewage. Others hint at it. I cannot help it’s quasi distorted mirror of society, and have to accept society is full of a lot of shit too. We just don’t need to stand it, but sniffing it once in a while may have some perspective value.

    Instagram is a cleaner place because of the smallness you create in using it; it has nothing to do with the platform. There’s a ton of shit there too, ads, self promoters, abusive commenters.

    I would warn though; instagram is s shitty archive for your photos. Try to find your photos 6 months from now. You cannot even search your own stream. The only way is scroll scroll scroll. Links in captions don’t go out. The photo quality is greatly diminished.

    Everything now makes me wary of counting on any platform but my own for an archive; and also, nothing is dead until the heart stops beating. People have been saying for years flickr will die. It’s been around for 13 years. Tell me any other service with that run. I am counting on it, and have a bet running

    This is my photo flow:
    * I edit, organize, title, caption, tag all my photos on my machine with Aperture (software no longer supported, but still works. Everyone else panicked and ran to Lightroom, it works as long as I don’t upgrade my MacOS, which I’ve not done since 2013. Still works)
    * I use an add on that uploads the images I want to send there to flickr. But because my source is my own system, if flickr goes, my collection is in tact
    * From the flickr app, I cross post 1-2 a day to Instagram. I consider all there disposable. Sometimes I may send a pic directly to instagram, but its a keep able pic it enters my flow from the top.

    I’m not judging your twitter choice (well a little, and it’s not as extreme as being a Quitter or worse, a Deleter) because your experience is different from mine. It’s just the feeling of more safety, sanity whether it’s Instagram or Mastadon has less to do with the platform and more to do with the human population dynamic.

    Bottom line where ever you post, I’ll follow, and talk smack, kimosabe!

  2. Hi Jim, Your post has a pang for me that I can’t quite put my finger on. In some ways that long goodbye has lasted a few decades for me already- and it’s a balance between a cherished golden thread of silk to connect and a strangling tendril. Some of those platforms afforded introductions that, certainly for me as a tech-minded musician, but not someone with feet already in that wider education scene, wouldn’t have otherwise happened. I am grateful they did, and hope to develop and facilitate more of those lasting meaningful connections. People make the world go round – and although I harken strongly to the ancient trees and small villages here, I also gravitate to people dotted around the world who value connection, freedom of creative ideas, and fun.

    …still swinging in search of balance, and hoping to sing in that eternal groove.

  3. Miss ya (when I’m there in birdland) but glad to find you here (in blogland) after being there. Try following that logic path … Funny that a tweet brought to the blog ..

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