Social Noise

Social Noise

I haven’t posted anything online for over a month now, whether it’s on social media or on the blog. I apologize for the absence. I am back, I have a lot of images to process, two upcoming trips, so you should see a lot of stuff happening in the weeks to come.

I wanted to write a little about social noise and why I stepped away from my social media photography profiles. You see, I love social media when it comes to photography. It’s how I started getting serious about it, it’s how I meet people on my trips, it’s how I learned most of what I know about photography (I even did a mentorship) and it’s how I get a lot of my inspiration. However, at times it can become quite overwhelming.

While social media is great for photography, it is also hard to keep up. We get so many websites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, 500px, Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram….) that it can be tough to find relevant information. This is call “noise”: all the information you receive but that is not relevant or interesting. And even though social media is getting better at filtering this social noise, it’s far from perfect.

Waking up at night  |  Las Vegas Boulevard - Las Vegas, NV

Waking up at night | Las Vegas Boulevard – Las Vegas, NV

The problem with social noise is that it distracts you from the more important stuff. When I go through my Google+ stream, I have a few goals: finding inspiration, keeping in touch with friends and learning new things. But often some unwarranted posts make their way in my stream, distracting me from these goals. We all procrastinate on our social media feeds. It’s not a bad thing in itself, but it can get in the way of your projects.

Zach Arias made a great video about signal and noise for Scott Kelby’s blog. I strongly recommend that you check it out.

To me social noise also covers other aspects of social media. You see, social media strongly encourages people to compare against other people. It can be in very different ways: the number of followers, the number of posts, the number of comments, but also more insidious things like how much certain people travel or how they live. I am not immune to this, and most of you aren’t either. We’ve all wondered why this photographer has more follower than us or why people like his/her images and not ours. It’s human nature. But it is not healthy.

You will always find someone who has more followers than you. But it does not mean he/she is better or worse than you. Instead of focusing on the numbers, we should be focusing on the quality; the quality of our images, the quality of our social interactions, the quality of our life. We should stop comparing our social profiles and start working harder on our art.

A warm sight | Champ de Mars - Paris, France

A warm sight | Champ de Mars – Paris, France

I am guilty of getting distracted by this social noise and I am working in this. This is why there are times during which I stop some of my online activities and I focus on other stuff. Over the last month, I spent a lot of time with friends and family. I did not even use my camera or process any image, because I needed to clear my mind and find a new focus.

I am not saying that cutting off is the best solution, but it worked for me. In early July, I was almost forcing myself to work on my images and it was not good. Now I am very happy to go back to those images and bring them to life. Social noise is insidious but if you keep in mind a few things, it is definitely manageable.

What about you? How do you avoid getting caught up in all this social craziness?

The image at the top was shot on the Navy Pier in Chicago. You can see the Ferris Wheel in front of the skyline of the city. 

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