Richard Koci Hernandez, one of the best-known photographers on Instagram, announced that he will delete all of his images from the photo-sharing social media platform on Dec. 6. “Out with the old; in with the new”, he said.
He has a couple of reasons for doing so. First, he agrees with the the idea that photography should have a finite lifespan, especially for those immature works in the earlier period, although the Internet is increasingly allowing things to live forever. Actually, not only him, everyone has such problems about social media–whether or not to keep the earlier posts? One the one hand, those last-forever contents carry people’s valuable memories and enable them to look back on if they want. But on the other, some earlier posts, especially emotional expressions at specific time in the past, may indeed seem to be weird and are also unnecessary to be kept, considering people are likely to know about you through these posts. For example, one of my friend once told me when she looked back her earlier post, she found that many of them were posted when she’d broken up with her at-that-time boyfriend about how heartbroken she was. “You can hardly imagine,” she said, “when I read them, I felt myself so stupid to write them then that I deleted them all.” I believe many people have similar experience, including me.
What’s more, Hernandez also felt his success online had prevented him from experimenting with photography. Just as what he said, “When you have a large following, you begin to feel a particular sense of responsibility…Sometimes I felt that maybe I couldn’t explore other avenues of photography and share them because that wasn’t what my audience wanted.” I can totally understand this kind of feeling, because I had similar experience before. As a a senior fan of a famous Korean male group, I’ve got thousands of followers on Weibo during my stay in Korea for posting their close photos and writing about their schedules, like “Jaejoong is shooting ‘Dr. Jin’ today, and he seems in a pretty good mood.” Although being pleased and motivated at first, gradually, I started to feel a pressure. I felt I should post about them more frequently and shouldn’t post about other “irrelevant” things or people since they are not what my followers expect to see. Being unfree and stressful, I later realized I’d lost the original purpose for having a Weibo account–just to express myself and to be happy. So I abandoned that account and registered a new one in which I can post about everything I like. Anyway, it reflects a problem worth thinking about: People usually lose themselves in social media nowadays. They stand out on social platforms for something, such as interesting personalities, excellent talent, etc, which may however be overshadowed later by the “vanity” of keeping their followers or the “responsibility” of satisfying them. It is not a good phenomenon as I see it.
Here are my questions: What do you think of the move of Hernandez? How do you see your past posts on the social media feeds, do you keep them or delete them? And what’s your opinions about the phenomenon I talked about lastly?