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  • Writer's picturePaul Cotter

The Seductive Call of Likes


Female model, viewed through gauzy fabric backlit by golden hour sunlight

You may have noticed that I don’t have the “Likes” feature activated on my blog – which means you can’t give my posts a thumbs-up to show your approval. Nor do I have the “Comments” feature activated. These were both deliberate decisions, made as my small gesture of discontent with what I see as a growing obsession with racking up visible numbers of likes, comments and followers.

 

For some social media users, achieving high scores on these metrics is the holy grail that motivates every move they make. You may disagree wholeheartedly – but to me, chasing these metrics is the wrong motivation for doing photography or any form of art. What’s the right motivation? Consider the famous classical pianist Murray Perahia. He once had a recurring thumb problem that forced him to take several long breaks from playing. He couldn't bear the time away from the piano – and it wasn’t his career that he was concerned about.

 

“… I don’t think in career terms,” Perahia said. “The preoccupying thing was that I might never play again. Playing is more important than speaking to me.”

 

I believe Murray Perahia described the real reason why we should be creating art – whether it's woodworking, growing banzai trees or any other form. We should do it, not for external rewards or recognition, but because we have to do it. If we're true artists at heart, our souls cry out for the creative expression and the satisfaction it brings.

 

If I go too long without picking up my camera, I feel an ache in my heart, a longing that tells me I need to look through the viewfinder again and create something new. That’s why I take pictures. I would take them even if no one saw them, because I have to do it.

 

I’m not saying that social media is bad, or that there’s no value in making connections or gaining exposure for your work there. I’m just suggesting this: don’t be seduced by the siren call of Likes.

 


 

P.S. Although I don’t have the Comments feature activated on my blog, you can still let me know your thoughts. You can send your comments to me by using the Contact page on this site. Or, if you’re a subscriber to this blog, you can reply to the emails you receive when I’ve posted a new article.

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