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Vanity, Negativity & Imitation: The “Art” of Instagram

I’ve been mulling over these thoughts for months now, wondering how to go about sharing them. I prefer to stay away from negative topics, and put my efforts towards spreading more positivity than negativity. But that doesn’t mean I don’t deal with fighting these negative feelings almost every day, considering my everyday job revolves around this App. An app with so much potential to discover beauty and magic, but also a place that creates a lot of unnecessary feelings.

Behind the masks of everyone who parade around on Instagram, showing only their best face, their best outfits, and their best versions of the truth is a whole lot of unattractive bullshit.

There, I said it.

I don’t claim to be immune to the bullshit or even the negative feelings it causes me. A lot of the time I want to escape it all.

But something calls me back, and keeps me creating. Keeps me fighting to reach you and inspire you. And that thing is the fact that before all this social media nonsense, I had a place here because I was part of a community of artists and creators. Not “bloggers” and “influencers”. But people who followed each other, supported each other, and inspired one another.

Are the days of admiring someone’s hard work and creativity gone? Do we no longer look at a photo and enjoy it, and appreciate that person’s unique view of the world?

Studies show that more people are depressed due to Instagram. I find myself literally scared to even interact with certain social circles on this platform, because of the overall vibe that radiates around them. I’m completely put off by the attitude that has been deemed mandatory for “influencers” to adopt.

The competitive nature, the jealousy, the need to surpass and constantly one-up another… to consume everything good one lays eyes on, and steal it for their self. No one’s content is safe, it’s just there for someone to use as “inspiration” for their own “work”. There’s no appreciation of the art, no supporting each other, and no shame in this behavior.

I’ve collided with many “influencers” and the one thing I have to say is, these self-proclaimed celebrities are not only anti social AF in person, but they only take and use, expecting that merely proclaiming fame makes them something. I’ve literally heard some say that they refuse to pay for things because they can get so much for free. (Anyone remember the saying, you have to spend money to make money? Am I weird for still believing that I should invest in and contribute to my future? What do these Instagrammers contribute? Do we really care about outfits that much? Do they actually inspire us on a deep level? Do “popular” girls on instagram really need a spotlight in our daily life?

I’m purging.

I’ve started unfollowing accounts that don’t truly inspire me, who don’t make me feel positive after seeing their image. Those who don’t create art, but only churn out ads and look-a-like content. If I can’t tell one travel blogger from another… if I don’t even know their names or their story, I’m unfollowing. It’s not to be cruel or unsupportive. But to be honest, I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time.

I want to follow someone to be inspired, not made to feel jealous. Because serving jealousy no longer sells to me. And maybe that small account that posts beautiful lifestyle or nature photos that don’t go “viral” or generate tons of likes, makes me feel happier than the account of the girl who travels to every postcard worthy photo-op location in the world.Or the account with the best designer outfits. I mean, what is that contributing to my day? That I don’t travel enough? That I need to compete with that? That I must be doing life wrong if my life doesn’t look like that?

I don’t need to compete with anyone. I don’t need to put how many countries I’m going to this summer in my bio, because maybe I’ll just go where I want, when I want. Or when I can. Besides- what does anyone need to prove by declaring this anyway?

I also follow WAY too many brands. I not only consume more content than I can remember every day, but I’m pushed ads and products and clothing all day every day. I’ve almost become numb to it. There’s a nice outfit… there’s a pretty model… there’s another photo I like… there’s another photo that makes me feel nothing… or even worse, makes me feel jealous or etc.

It’s all a blur, BUT I’m left feeling something! I’m basically programming myself and my mood for the day thanks to endless scrolling. And guess what? Studies show that the more you scroll, the more unhappy you become.

Some nights I lay in bed scrolling till 1 am, feeling unfulfilled and therefore unable to just go to bed. But my search for inspiration is really only causing me to be more unfulfilled. I don’t need to see anything, I just search and scroll, waiting for some post to magically make me feel better and then I can happily go to sleep. As if this will somehow change my life.

But that rarely happens. Between all the BS content floating past, there’s no room for true art or inspiration to reach me. There’s no room for MY OWN inspiration to REACH ME.

We consume content, and we consume other people’s ideas and visions. So what becomes of our own? We wonder why micro trends and certain looks spread like an infection… it’s because as we all consume the same content and spit out something similar, it all gets re-consumed again and again until it’s some generic thing, essentially created by a universal mind. This could be something lovely, but it’s more like we are losing our uniqueness and learning to conform to be like what’s “successful” or “popular”. We are becoming what an algorithm is making us.

Like I was saying, I’m purging. Yeah, I may think that girl is cute, or like her outfits. But I’m being honest with myself and unfollowing whatever doesn’t truly inspire me. Beyond what I’m inspired to buy or wear. This will give me not only more time and focus for those who DO inspire me so I can support them (remember those good old days on instagram?), but also less influence on my own creative process. So I can get back to rediscovering who I am, what I love, and what I want to say with my creations.

I think this is something we should all be doing. I don’t know what that means for “social media” and people’s followings, but fuck it. Who cares. Humanity has created and held onto ART since the beginning.  It’s has been a constant that remains, and tells the story of humanity. That’s what we should care about. Not popularity and bikini bodies.

Speaking of art, another one of the issues I’ve been thinking about is art vs. imitation.

I have a personal calling to art. My dad is a painter and artist of many mediums, was a director of an art school, and more. I’ve been raised with art as a part of who I am, from drawing and painting, photography and writing, dancing and even classical music. I function on a creative plane that means I’m constantly envisioning and creating.

I’ve always been part of artistic and creative communities. First DeviantArt, and online forums, Flickr, Facebook pages and photography groups… I spent countless hours creating and sharing with strangers I got to know across the world. Since I was 12! Back when I had dial up and was scared to share a photo of myself on the web…!

There’s a certain mutual respect amongst artists of those communities. Even as “bloggers” were first born from creative souls with a strong voice, each one was unique. Not a celebrity, not a model, not a fit bikini babe. But just sharing their unique voice or talent, which is what drew in “followers”. Which is what gave them authority in their “niche”.

Somehow, we’ve arrived at this place where… anyone who has a photo-taking-device, and… anyone who wears clothes… must become a blogger. They must deserve even more followers if they’re cute!

This new crop of “bloggers” (okay, not all, but a lot of them) need no photography skills, or writing talent, or voice. They need not care for art, culture, or the power of words. They just want those free clothes, and party invites. To sky-rocket to 100k, to rock knock-off designer purses (and I swear if I see another Gucci knock-off…. 🤢)

Instagram is now high school… To those of us who have long since graduated, welcome to your worse nightmare- you’re back!

It’s all clicks, tricks, and fake tits. Okay I couldn’t help that one. But it’s not too far from the truth. Even if it’s just photoshop…

And the worst part? The part that is my biggest pet peeve and the point I’ve been trying to get to?

There is no respect for creativity. These new influencers never heard of the mutual understanding that you don’t just rip off every photo you like, and make it yours. And if you do, at least give a shoutout to your inspiration for the stolen (I mean imitated) work!

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen one of my Paris photos copied by probably all the bloggers at this point… you might know it- the one with the feet up on the window and a bed of white pillows and blankets on the floor? I won’t mention names, but I came up with this shoot concept over a year ago (early spring 2017), and it recently caught fire after some big influencers felt the need to “re-create it” while in Paris. Then the shot went viral. As the Paris photos tend to do.

PS-  I’m not exaggerating when I say it was a vision. I’d been dreaming of shooting this photo against the perfect Parisian window since even before that trip, and Josh and I spent a while getting it just the way I envisioned it, that rainy day in Montmartre.

As an artist, I feel the need to stand up for my work when things start to get out of hand. I mean, it is the most personal thing, and artist’s creation. It’s their baby- their brain child. It feels personal when someone steals it from you.

Don’t get me wrong, finding inspiration in other’s work is something I do myself, and I hope I inspire you with my work! But blatant copying? At least make it your own!

Anyway, ranting aside… *sigh*

Sarah Loven Paris window 2017 Montmartre

 They say good artists copy, and great artists steal. But I believe the truth is- those who do not have a creative eye of their own, steal.

I don’t know if you remember, but back in the day, ripping off another’s work was a big NO-NO. I mean, I still believe that today… but I think most of social media has forgotten… is there any hope left for this community to thrive with appreciation for true art? Or are we all copycats and generic reproductions?

*queue “Human” by The Killers*

I’d be foolish if I thought I could start a revolution for us creators. But maybe I’ve inspired you, and I can now go to sleep a little more content because I shared this with you. Whether you do anything differently, or go support your favorite artists, or unfollow the endless supply of meaningless accounts, that’s now up to you. I just want you AND me to rediscover what it is we need to be inspired. Nothing more, and nothing less.

  • G+V says:

    ^^ for our great pleasure, stay creative, stay by your blog!

  • Hey sarah,bravo for seeing beyond the myopic deadzone instagram has become. i deleted my account a few months ago. Your content is one of the few accounts i have missed, and i still love keeping up with your blog.

    if you’re interested, i wrote a blog post of my own to explain my ig-departure: http://lunaelise.com/blog/2018/5/24/i-deleted-my-instagram-account-yes-im-ok

    hang in there, art will survive long after ig is gone…
    elise

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you for reading my thoughts on this!

      Wow you’re so brave for deleting your IG, I commend you! I’m definitely feeling a bit in uncharted waters, but I hope to rope it all in again in the upcoming time before it all goes to shit, haha. I’m actually excited to set out and feel fulfilled doing my own thing!