Sunsets are sunsets.

The Failed Art of Being Genuine.

I deleted my Instagram account on March 11, 2016, there was no warning to my followers. I decided to take this course of action because I realized what Instagram was, a mask. I posted my photography; my edits, and other life events on my Instagram, and many of my followers did the same. Multiple times a day I would refresh my feed and commence the long process of viewing and liking most if not every picture I scrolled past, then perhaps I would post a picture of my own and watch my phone’s blackened lock screen intently in the hopes of a notification stating, “@_____ has liked your photo.” I became content with this process for many months, until I realized something in myself. Many people of Instagram aren’t having as much fun as they say they are. The moody sunset picture, the crazy edits of a pirate ship sailing in a coffee cup, a group of friends eating dinner together, and the picture with forty possibly relevant tags attached; all have one thing in common. Once a photo is placed on Instagram its goal and intent are to collect likes and comments, the photo can only survive if it receives instant recognition. If it were to be ignored the photo would still exist, but what purpose does it serve? Nothing. The picture, the “gram,” is dead before it ever lived. The pressure to ensure the life of the “gram” is what drove me to delete my Instagram Account. The constant need to post a picture, just to feel relevant to a world that could not care less for me, became a burden. This burden only seemed to ease after I posted something else, and then something else, and then again, something else. I was no longer genuine with anyone, how could I be? I wanted likes; I wanted comments, and I wanted to be seen. What form of genuineness can evolve from that?

Instagram is a sunset. The first moments are beautiful, the recognition, the gratification; it’s amazing. However, just as every sunset, we know a fade to night is near, and we must sit and endure a darkness until another sunset, another time when we have something we believe is worth posting.

“Because baby boomers are obsessed with living in the moment, they insist that every experience be a watershed, every meal extraordinary, every friendship epochal, every concert superb, and every sunset meta-celestial. Life isn’t like that… sunsets are sunsets. By turning spectacularly humdrum occurrences into “events” requiring reflection, planning, research, underwriting and staggering masses of data. This has essentially ruined everything for everybody else because nothing can ever again be exactly what it was in the first place: something whose very charm is a direct result of its being accessible, near at hand, ordinary.” Michael Horton. Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World. 2014. A link to the book preview and quote: (Thanks to Doug Short for the fantastic quote find).

My photos lost genuine connections; I found myself attempting to keep up with whom I was pretending to be on my Instagram, pretending to love the coffee that I just drank, pretending to have an amazing time running around in the cold rain for an “okay” picture. The need to pretend makes the ordinary feel boring, useless. When, in fact, the routine, the average day that we live, is special because it is apart of us; the day, the event, the dinner, the coffee, the hike, becomes genuine. In order for me to regain an authentic love for my pictures, for my artwork, I must be successful at keeping it private, for myself to analyze, to recognize, and to like.

-Garrett Whitlock

       March 13, 2016

(Post title credit to Emily Borg)