I have been off the virtual radar for a while. Life has been busy. There have been a couple of overseas trips. One to the USA to meet my future in-laws. Incredible trip! One to the Maldives for a five-star jaunt taking incredibly difficult to shoot underwater 360 images. That has to be one of the steepest learning curves of my life! Not only learning a completely new photography technique but also doing it on a camera I have never used before. Proof you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
There have also been a few ongoing and very varied projects here in Indonesia. Shooting for an Instagram influencer at Oceans 5 Dive in the Gili Islands, and a full promotional video for Nomads Diving Penida. This was obviously a massive hardship – diving with Mola Mola, Manta Rays and huge schools of batfish!
I finally have a bit of a lull in my hectic schedule and it is time to reflect on things and catch up on all the stuff I haven’t had time for. Like this blog! My Instagram and Facebook posts have been virtually non-existent for at least a month. Have my numbers of followers fallen as a consequence? Slightly. Is this important? Well, not really.
So many people these days seem to value their worth by how many people are following them or liking their page. Are we so insecure in ourselves in the 21st century that we need approval from others to justify our existence? The more followers or likes we have the more we as a person are worth? What if no-one likes our stuff? What if no-one wants to follow us or see what we are doing every minute of the day through our Instagram and Facebook stories? What if no-one sees our tweets or responds to them? Does that mean we don’t have value?
I know that almost every business is using social media to some extent to market their products. I myself feel obliged to post regularly to maintain my following. Even politicians are now using Twitter to get their messages out. But I feel that the influence of social media such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have had a detrimental effect on our society. The separation between the “cool kids” and the rest of us has become even wider. If I wasn’t secure in my own worth I could easily dive into depression with the feeling that nobody likes me. Billy no-mates. When did having 10,000 followers on Instagram become more important than having a few good friends who had your back?
So my new goal is now to be so busy living my life that I don’t have time for Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. To have so many exciting new projects on the go that I don’t have time to share them with anyone except my closest friends and family. It’s not so far away till New Year and the traditional time for evaluating what we have achieved in the last year, and what our goals and resolutions are for next year.
Well, I have had a pretty amazing year. My business has started to make a little progress. I bought new camera gear. I have traveled and dived in many different destinations. I have worked on a huge variety of projects. I said “yes” to the man who will be my life partner. Right now life is at one of its many crossroads. There is a myriad of different paths it could take diverging at this point. But being together makes us so much stronger.
As for resolutions, my focus is changing. In the past, it has all been about aiming for financial success. Making more money, building my business, being able to afford the better gear. Well, yes I have bought better gear (and still need to sell the old equipment to pay for it). But I am also starting to appreciate what is really important in life. My resolutions this year will revolve around finding more time for the people I love. Not working for the sake of working. To be thankful for the little lulls between projects and use that time wisely, rather than worrying that I don’t have work temporarily.
We leave this world the way we came into it – with nothing. An empty vessel. We have a finite amount of time to fill that vessel with joy, experiences, and love. Money, Instagram followers, and a high powered job won’t do that. At least not for me. Do you think your followers will care when you leave this planet? Hell no! They will move on to the next Instagram star without a blink of an eye. Do you think any of your Instagram posts will have a lingering positive effect long after you are gone? Unlikely. But you can make a lasting impact on the lives of others and on the longevity of our planet with your own actions. That means you need to live and act in the real world, not in the virtual world of social media. What the world needs is people taking real positive action. What we don’t need is another influencer, trying to live a glamorous lifestyle at the expense of others.
Finding new purpose and real happiness in life makes me question the importance of all this social media BS. I have realised that personal relationships, with family, friends, and clients alike, are far more valuable and influential than social media can ever be.
Before deciding to become a social media influencer perhaps you should consider this first: Can you contribute something meaningful to the world by being an influencer? And will being an influencer add meaningful value to your own life? If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then you are in a small elite group and you should dive right in. But for most of us, living life through social media will ultimately prove to be superficial and unsatisfactory. Why do we want to live life vicariously through other people instead of creating experiences and forming strong relationships of our own? To me, a few good heartfelt friendships with kind, courageous, intelligent, quirky (even totally loopy!) people are of much greater value than having thousands of people I have never even met following me and liking what I do every day. Who cares what someone I will never meet and lives on the other side of the world thinks about what I had for breakfast or which brand of bikini I wear?
I wrote a blog some time ago about the importance of social media marketing. For sure it has become a useful tool. However, I feel a little hypocritical espousing its value when in reality I believe its tangible worth to be somewhat limited. Of course for my own business marketing, I will continue to use it as it certainly an effective way of reaching my target market. However, I will definitely be making resolutions this New Year to view it as purely a tool and not a reflection of who I am or my own value. I will take delight in my day if I don’t have time to post instead of becoming stressed about it. Surely that is a better measure of success. If I am too busy living life to share it with you I apologise. But that will certainly make me happier!