Trying to get away… (can it be done?)

It’s been years since I got fed up with Mark Zuckerberg and FB, and when he acquired Instagram I knew the same “use and abuse” cycle he always espouses was going to poison what once was a beautifully simple and straightforward online community for artists. The guy just isn’t honest, and what’s more, he’ll make money any way that he can because he’s clearly missing the ability to give a damn about people. Let’s face the cold truth – in that department he’s lacking a gene or two (or five).

I’ve deactivated my Facebook account many times, and deleted it altogether once. I came back to it only because I wanted to, needed to, have a virtual art community. As someone who has a “normal” life – a family and a non-art world job – this is the easiest way for me to stay connected and keep up with what fellow artists are doing. Events for the local gallery which represented me then were scheduled through FB, as well as invitations to virtual events of artists I know around the world. It wasn’t a perfect environment for us, but it was the main one that everyone was stuck on. It satisfied the minimum requirements at least, and did that more or less smoothly.

In February 2020, a month before LA went into the pandemic lockdown, the real world gallery that used to represent me here in downtown LA shut down. No more monthly shows, no more visiting with artists in person, no more talking about our work and what we were working toward. A vital and lively local gathering place was gone.

Prior to this period of being represented, all of my art community was online. I made filmmaker connections through Vimeo and MUBI, and numerous mobile photography connections through a multitude of sites, many of which no longer exist. Through all that I’ve followed and have been followed to the most generic places in existence which continue to exist – and that would be the Zuckerberg-owned places. I would not say that being in those places was anything other than a last resort. As someone whose work is not commercial, and who earns a living already, I wasn’t about to bend over for money and publicity, Zuckerberg style. So I hung on (and off) for a little while, until a few months after the last national election, and then I deactivated one of those places (Facebook).

Instagram meanwhile, over the years after which it was acquired by Zuckerberg, not only “threw off the mask,” but went fully overboard with a dumb algorithm, ads and boosted posts. I went private with all my accounts. Then yesterday, I decided to stop posting there altogether, though I will keep visiting to stay in touch with fellow artists who may continue to post their content there, despite the yuck that it’s become, and the YUCK of the person who keeps running things in the “special” way that he does.

I’ve been in many artistic online communities for more than 10 years. It is great to meet people around the world, share what you’re doing, and experience what they’re doing. I could visit so many countries I’ve never been too, and meet at least one person there whose work I’ve been following online. That’s pretty cool. But I firmly DON’T believe in the way that Zuckerberg uses the people he’s enabled to come together through his businesses. I DON’T think that it’s beneficial to me either as an artist or a human being. And at this rate, I’d rather keep in touch with people I’ve met over the years through email and text than deal with the mess that he keeps promoting desperately.

P.S. Oh and btw, after over a year of isolation from in-person contact (I think it’s been proven that humans are social creatures who benefit from irl interaction), who in the hell wants to strap a computer to their face and pretend they’re in a video game?? Just, NO. Go back to your plastic bubble, Zuckerberg. And stop trying to dominate the marketplace with your off-key ideas.

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