Sunday, July 5, 2015

One Year of Daily Instragram Posts (and Still Going)

I joined Instagram in late 2012. I didn't have an iOS or Android mobile device back then, so I went the roundabout way to join the social network by using an Android emulator called Bluestacks, which ran really slow and buggy on my MacBook.

I started to post on Instagram on a daily basis on January 1st of 2013. After 10+ years on (post-AOL) social media, I was increasingly burnt out on the progression from Xanga to Friendster to MySpace to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. By July of 2013, I put my Facebook account on hiatus, and I mostly avoided social media for several months.

In November 2013, I finally got with the times, and I acquired an Android smartphone. I reactivated my Facebook account, and I slowly returned to the world of social media. On July 5th, 2014, after several infrequent Instagram posts, I decided to post daily on Instagram. I challenged myself to take photos that are important to me, or produce videos with quite a lot of effort. On a few occasions, I had some sort of artistic block, and I uploaded a filler screenshot, so that I could make my daily quota -- of one Instagram post. I soon noticed that there are only a handful of subjects, themes, and motifs in my visual work; my Instagram profile is like a square window to my personality, or at least my social media persona. Here are a few of my favorite photos taken throughout the year:

July 7, 2014. I wanted to show that my Kindle Paperwhite is like a TARDIS:  Bigger on the inside. Then I also made it into a time machine, displaying a speculative cover for the still-unreleased sixth book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter. Various aspects of "fandom" are recurring motifs in my Instagram.

August 16, 2014. This is a photo of my cousins' dog Lola, greeting me a good morning after an overnight visit to their house. She passed away in November of the same year. Lola was a very low-key dog, unlike my dog Kate, who is a Loki-dog, a trickster (but more on her later).

September 15, 2014. I rarely post grand, sweeping vistas because I rarely take pictures of grand, sweeping vistas. I usually take close-ups of various subjects, with the occasional photo of celestial objects. I guess that it's just my style. Anyway, I took a fun ride up the hills, where the rich folk live. Since I was driving a fancy (albeit rented) automobile, I think I sort of blended in with the neighborhood during this random drive. I noticed an opening in the trees at the end of a road, showing the university/medical center, the northern mountain range, and everything in between. I stopped and took a photo, and I continued the drive.

October 10, 2014. This was a photo from the "blood moon" lunar eclipse from early October 8. As I mentioned earlier, I take closeups of small things, dog-sized things, people-sized things, and celestial-sized things. I rarely photograph the large gap between people-sized and celestial-sized subjects. I photographed this blood moon, as well as the lunar eclipses in April 2014 and April 2015. There's another lunar eclipse coming up soon, I think, and I hope to photograph that one as well.

November 15, 2014. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is a recurring character on my Instagram feed, but he is usually in some sort of plush toy form. This Oswald is pretty cool because he's a Christmas tree ornament, he's playing a banjo, and the ornament is hanging off an actual banjo. If it wasn't for the golden-colored ring on the ornament, this photo could have passed for black and white.

December 29, 2014. My dog Kate is basically the star of my Instagram feed. I'm very certain that there are more photos of Kate (and Kate-like objects) in my feed than selfies of yours truly. I had Clayton Custom make these commemorative Kate guitar picks for the holiday season. One side is puppy Kate, and the other side is adult dog Kate.

January 7, 2015. I told you that Kate is the star of the show. She's dressed up in her dog hoodie, but I'm not sure where we're about to go.

February 11, 2015. The photo was actually taken in late January. I parked my car next to some flower bushes, where several worker bees were gathering pollen for their hive. Fortunately, I had a camera with a long lens with me, and I snapped away at the highest shutter speed I could use, with the available light.

March 28, 2015. I don't always take selfies, but when I do, they're pretty epic. LEGO minifigure photography is a regular thing in my Instagram feed.

April 16, 2015. I don't always post food pictures, but when I do, they're pretty epic. El Pollo Loco's company Instagram profile actually commented on this photo of an El Pollo Loco burrito.

May 2, 2015. This is another example of LEGO photography in my Instagram profile. The five-to-six year build-up to the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was more enjoyable than the fight itself. It was a combination of a less-than-aggressive Manny (injured?) and a just-as-expected overly defensive Floyd. Mayweather's boxing style flawlessly wins victories but is basically bloodless; the target audience of boxing is usually bloodthirsty. Floyd's public persona of being a Ted DiBiase-type heel is what sells tickets and PPVs, and even that is getting old and worn out. No wonder Mayweather is supposedly retiring soon. In any case, I'm sure my dog Kate (as depicted as an anthropomorphic minifigure) would have been a better referee than most other boxing referees these days.

June 30, 2015. I recently got into working with small bits of metal, to make miniature swords. I made a brass (shiny golden in color) mini-sword for my dad for Father's Day. The week after, I made him a stainless steel companion mini-sword. The stainless steel "blade" is food safe, as it is skewering a meatball in the above photo. I call this sword Meatskewer, slayer of the previously slain.

July 2, 2015. Electricity is awesome. (Dangerous, but awesome.) I upgraded a guitar with a bass-generating pickup called A Little Thunder. I installed some LED lights on my full-band pedal board. Now I have a guitar that is also bass, lead vocals that are also harmony vocals, and a drum machine that is also a light show.

I also post regularly on two other Instagram profiles. I post on Chord du Jour's Instagram daily, hence the name. I post on FoodBoozeTunes' Instagram every Friday, making all my epic food photos that much more legendary, by adding some cover tunes by yours truly.

Honestly, I must admit that part of my motivation for posting media on Instagram is for the 'likes'. The intrinsic artistic aspect is the other part of it, of course, but I could create art offline and have the same intrinsic sense of satisfaction. Connecting with an audience is what makes Instagram and other social media more than worthwhile. Of course, there are friends who click 'like' because they are kind, no matter how they truly feel about a photo or video, and I am always grateful for their unconditional social media kindness. On the other side of the spectrum, there are spammy accounts who auto-like to try to get people to click on their spammy links; they really don't count. Getting a real reaction, a real connection, happens when a photo or video makes someone smile, smirk, giggle, guffaw, laugh, cry, cringe, think, or otherwise feel something. Then they click 'like' and/or comment. Or they repost it, whether attributing to the content creator or not, and the image or video gathers more reactions.

My photo of a LEGO minifigure depicting Ron Swanson as Captain America holding a sausage has received hundreds of 'likes'. Most of the 'likes' aren't on my original post. I'd like to think that I made the Fourth of July holiday/Saturday for those 200+ people a little better, just because I photographed a little plastic thing and posted it on the Instagram.

Well, that's what makes social media sort of worth it: The Feels, contributing to the emotional state of people on the Internet, hopefully in a positive manner. That's why I'm in it for the 'likes'.

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