The death of stills and stillness is here.
There’s a post by Anastasia Pagonas that has been making the rounds the past few days (many of you sent it directly to me) and I think it warrants a lot of good questions, reflections and even self-culpability when it comes to how and what we share on social media, namely Instagram. It's no secret around here that I've had my fair share of complaints about the behemoth owned by Facebook, er Meta, and I realize you likely don't follow me to hear my daily frustrations with it. But I believe, whether you make a living off this app like I do or not is actually besides the larger point here, and it's a contention point I feel quite passionate about — like it or not, apps like Instagram control more of our lives than we'd like to admit.
In an age where speed, immediacy and ease of consumption is often prioritized above all else usually in the pursuit of going viral, what does that leave us with at the end of the day? How does that move us forward? I can’t help but picture a conveyer belt as the best analogy here — an automated factory line of the same songs, the same video concepts, the same ideas rolling past us at a frantic pace. Seven to eight second micro doses of content to funnel you to an “add to cart” button or until you simply scroll to the next, hook-able, shiny thing. These companies will tell you it’s because we’re time poor and we need them to think for us. But I have to wonder if they’re the source of our time bankruptcy and perhaps subsequently, the source of our inability to think for ourselves.
I say all this as someone who loves exploring videography. And cinema. And storytelling in all forms. But I also love photography. And the power of what a single image can convey. And the importance of sitting with it, to reflect, to feel, to understand. I’m of the belief the two don’t need to be at odds with each other, and yet, here we are: for many of us who rely on this app for our livelihoods, businesses or simply just to connect with friends, family and kindred spirits, we have to choose. It’s a classic conform or get left behind.
I’m a slow person by nature — I like taking my time to observe, to learn and to process. To be still with something is innate to who I am. And while I may run and sprint at times to keep up, mainly due to unavoidable, capitalistic necessity — I have to wonder out loud (even if no one is reading this far into the post) “at what cost?"