Tuesday, October 02, 2012

What Is My Story, and Am I Telling It Effectively?

Tuesday - Entry 6:

“Find your theme, then share it.”

This seemingly simple advice was given out by a social media expert for Instagram users—a service I use, but with no impact. I take what I think are important pictures or images with great interest, yet I can't get others to take notice. I have tried many things such as littering my post with hashtags, using fancy filters, creatively editing with photo apps, and captions with text. The most feedback I have ever seen is about 17 likes before the photo drifts away into obscurity.

Often I wonder just why I use the service; I could post pictures to Twitter with less effort and just as much impact. It's not as if I have a dearth of photo apps to make my photos look fancy. Also, 17 strangers liking a photo (but never leaving a comment or following me to see more of my work) is a meaningless metric of success. I also wonder why some people can post pictures of their breakfast in poor lighting—and even poorer cropping—and get hundreds of likes, catapulting their half eaten bagel onto the front of the popularity page. When I work so hard at my perfectly framed, moody image of clouds across a shadow drenched mountain range during the golden hour before sunset, it hardly seems fair.

While there is no accounting for why some people rise to stardom on social networks while others languish when all those stars do is post photos of their breakfast, there is something to be said about narrative. What is my story, and am I telling it effectively? Even though I love to experiment with photos I post to Instagram, there still needs to be an overarching narrative for people to connect with. The social media stars who fill their stream with bagels are usually young and socially active, usually always on the go and meeting new and interesting people. They offer vicarious living for their followers. I may not connect with their narrative, but many, many others do.

I am not young, nor do I get out and socialize in places where camera phones are appreciated, so that cannot be my story. I may have never posted a photo of a bagel either, but I do have a story; I simply need to find it.

With ADHD coursing through my veins, I have one particular problem that clouds my narrative: my story changes with my whims. Instead of one story, I have many. This fractured tale IS my narrative, but it's not one that helps people connect with me. It is clear I have to make a choice. Either I decide on a theme that I dangle all my other distractions from like ornaments, I resign myself to ignominy and worry no more about connecting on a large scale, or I give up social networking altogether.

Give up social networking? Am I crazy‽ It's my only connection with the outside world sometimes. (Yes, I have become quite the recluse.)

I am not prepared to make a decision today, but I am very glad to be asking these important questions. I don't want to merely live; I want to live with purpose. Perhaps I am living at the the whim of ADHD too much. And perhaps having a more focused narrative will give me the purpose I so desperately ache for.