Editor's Letter — August 2018 and Social Media's Limitations
There’s never been more content to experience and yet, at the same time, no individual has sufficient time to experience all of it. At the center of this maelstrom are countless media companies and content creators, each entity pumping out posts and videos destined to live briefly and die quickly on social media. Since we’ve chosen to join this competition and our livelihood at MAEKAN somewhat depends on winning it, we’re often stepping back and assessing how we—with our capable but very busy and small team—can stand out in such a content saturated world. At times, the assessments can be a bit sobering.
Social media’s cookie-cutter approach, both through its algorithmically boosted photographic offerings and generic UX/UI, has sucked the soul out self-publishing. By design, social platforms are neither focused on sharing well-conceived thoughts in long form (how hard is it to get a line break in Instagram?!) nor are they overly concerned about driving perspective and discourse in a global conversation.
Where text is not readily accommodated for on platforms like Instagram, the idea is that a picture says a thousand words. “Do it for the ‘gram” they say. This unescapable mindset has pushed me to the depths of creative despair. There’s already so much out there that I can’t with a straight face tell you that my personal output is worthy of your attention, at least not as a singular photo. I used to turn to photography as a simple, effective way to channel the one sliver of visual creativity I have in my body. Recently, I’m underwhelmed by the experience, as it’s evolved from shooting and capturing moments to being a task of content creation.
I’m not putting out a public service announcement about how people should create and/or consume content on social media. I do want to challenge people to think more profoundly about the experience and limitations of those platforms and the accompanying message pushed forwards. Maybe in the process we can find better ways to re-purpose and subvert these platforms to create change from within. Small changes instituted in controlled environments have surprising carryover when there are real deliverables on the line.
The personal value of MAEKAN for me was and continues to be the chance to take people on captivating journeys through thoughtfully developed stories. These are journeys that are difficult to fit into the format of a few hundred characters registering as a momentary blip on feeds or as 15-second videos swiped through amongst minutes of fragmented captures, but we’re committed to navigating the medium to serve our message.
Signing off for the month,