To Like Or Not To Like

To like or not to like, on Instagram: that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to give no love whatsoever to a portrait of a human being, or to endure the slings and arrows of posting the same outrageous shot of Yosemite and Multnomah Falls like everyone else? A verbose interrogatory, indeed. And one that Hamlet would hesitate over. However, the question remains relevant, I feel: if you want more likes on Instagram, should you just post more landscapes? Maybe so. Sadly, it seems to be an unfortunate reality of the Instagram engagement calculus.

This has resulted, I fear, in an over-abundance of identically “beautiful” user profiles whose characteristic theme is the wandering, 400 dollar designer backpack wielding, exploratory, hiker-inspired trek photo of adventure seeking mountain man, and waterfalls. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. I cast no aspersions through the oppressive veneer of scathing sarcasm. Yet, honestly, it has become rather insufferable in some sense, and there is no sense denying it.

Photographers (and I am definitely NOT saying me) bust their aesthetic and creative asses to come up with extremely unique portrayals of people and objects, and they get a whopping 200 likes; whereas the same photograph of Yosemite, Half Dome, and the double yellow lines on the asphalt curve of a Pacific Northwest road get 5,500 likes. I cannot quite answer it — other than to say, quite simply, people on Instagram generally enjoy homogenous photographs of landscapes and nature. Thus, for purposes of Instagram, if you want the likes, then play the game.

Next, there is the recent trend of jumping on a helicopter and taking photographs from the sky and/or hanging out of an aircraft. Or, grabbing a drone and a GoPro and obtaining improbable new angles from the stratosphere. While I am now tired as all hell seeing Los Angeles depicted from Downtown aboard a copter, I will say — in light of the comments noted above — that at least people are trying to push the limits of imagery. I applaud the new aesthetic horizons. Finding new angles and perspectives is a good thing in any discipline and in any era. Even though, in this case, it is presumably costing them hundreds of bucks per hour to hire the pilot and the copter. That is, unless you got the hook-ups, yo!

(NOTE: I am not at all thrilled by the dangling of feet and extremities from helicopters. It seems needlessly reckless and uncool, from my perspective, as impressionable young kids are looking at your photographs and probably feeling like they need to “out cool” their friends by now dangling their reckless bodies from the precipice of danger. Perhaps I sound like an old curmudgeon here, but it just strikes me as rather dumb.)

Anything for the like, I guess? Should we espouse that philosophy?

Whether the overplayed landscape, or the death-defying copter shot, do what makes you happy. That’s my belief and humble recommendation. Do what interests you. Don’t follow the commonweal for the sake of it. There are enough recycled depictions on Instagram, and in society. Have fun, humanize, and let your art reflect your passions — not the analytics.