The Wild Wild Gram Game
text and pictures by François Noah
Instagram is amazing. Anyone with an account can display their talent, beauty or skills from anywhere in the world. So many gifted people doing unbelievable things. All the time. And we can watch it, in real time. A self-aware "Truman Show" that is taking Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame to hyper Adderall fame level. There used to be few stars. Now, there are millions of influencers. Everybody seems to be winning the Wild Wild Gram Game.
I myself used Instagram to share my favorite shots as a photographer. But also shameless selfies displaying my body.
As a result, the message I conveyed was confusing. I wanted to share my art, but also wanted to show off.
My feed became filled with self portraits in nature displaying my abs, ass, or the combination of both. Sometimes with a quote
"BE LIKE WATER"
It appeared the loudest message wasn't about my art, rather the show off. I remember trying to explain a series of shirtless images of me wearing a rabbit mask to a photo agent. He rolled his judgmental little eyes and said bluntly, "You have a hot body. There's no need to justify it with artsy BS".
He had a point.
I was playing an ambiguous game. Why was I so much into shirtless selfies and gratuitous implied nudity?
On Instagram, many people play that exact bragging game. Selfie culture exacerbates the narcissist in us. We get caught in a never ending beauty pageant. Our need for validation seem insatiable. We need to feel beautiful and rated for perfect life filled with wealth, beauty and fame. But why?
Before the rise of social media, we compared ourselves to our neighbors, friends & celebrities. Now almost everybody is visible virtually. We have access to millions of fascinating and exotic lives starring gorgeous people. People validated by their millions of followers.
In 2018, anyone from the middle of nowhere can be aware of his instant value through likes and followers. People are less humble, less innocent. Stardom can happen any instant. So everybody’s must be picture perfect and ready to post 24/7.
Instagram Starlets become super-humans. They don’t poop unless they can monetize it.
When influencers merge, they become power couples. They live a care free existence on a different realm than the less followed. They have better sex than us. Well, they have better sex than you because I have better sex than anyone I know.
Instagram ratings provide us value and a place in the pyramid. We are in a constant state of comparison with millions of avatars. A global popularity contest with tons of subjective losers and winners.
Who can know if any of this is real? And who cares to know? This is High school for life.
One morning, I drove to Point Dume in Malibu to take pictures. It was a rainy windy day and I decided to leave my camera and my phone in the car and just go for a walk instead of photoshoot.
I hiked to the highest point of the foggy cliff to contemplate the tormented ocean. The dark waves were big and the wind was powerful. I was holding myself to the top of the cliff so I wouldn’t fall. Twenty feet below, I saw a man sitting in a yellow Kayak. He seemed to be meditating. The kayak barely moving amongst the violent waves crashing against the rocks
Out of nowhere,
gray whale jumped out of the water a few feet away from the man in the yellow kayak.
#nocamera #blessed #bethewhale
Then, another whale jumped up from the other side. Despite the whales, the man remained calm. I was staring at the scene in disbelief. Was I about to witness the death of this man? I couldn’t move, holding the rock, my life depended on it. Both whales kept jumping around the kayak, swimming around him. They seemed so playful. The man in the kayak knew there was nothing to worry about. Their gentle dance lasted about ten minutes. I couldn't take my eyes off the scene. Present in every single breath of this unexpected private ballet.
When the whales moved away, I realized that if I would have had my phone, I could have made a viral video!
Being present in this experience made me feel so alive. This was pure magic. And the direction I wanted for my Life.
This moment was a turning point. It made me realize I want to explore my own life from within. I had to reconnect with Nature and go deeper than the surface of my phone screen.
I chose to put my Instagram on hold for a while.
Will my abs survive this break?
#photographer #ocean #abs
Find out next week!
#fitfam #bliss #stayhumble
special thanks to Zaxary Erickson @zaxaryerickson