Friday, 27 April 2018

It's all about me...

I don’t often do this but today I’d like to tackle the mildly contentious topic of selfies.  I’ve had many long and interesting conversations with folks about selifes, especially when it comes to travel writing, blogging and social media.  Personally I really don’t enjoy taking them and only include them very rarely because, whatever my opinion, photos with people in regularly perform better (attract more likes and shares) than photos without people in them.  I generally only include them if we’re doing something particularly interesting and even then it’s usually just the one of me/us in amongst a pile of blissfully “me free” photos.

My reasons for not liking them are various – first up, who can honestly say they like looking at photos of themselves (apart from the Kardashians and anyone on TOWIE)?  Secondly I hate the fact that someone, somewhere, might recognise me – it actually happened once, ages ago on top of a fell, and it completely freaked me out.  Thirdly, and for me most importantly, the stories I’m aiming to tell via the blogs and the photos are rarely about me, they’re about the scenery, the history and/ or the wildlife.  I get really frustrated when my friends travel the world and their FB feed is full of photos of exotic locations, except that I can’t see the exotic locations because there are an assortment of grinning faces in the way.  I love my friends, but I already know what they look like and just keep mentally screaming at them to get out of the darned way so I can see the view behind them!

"Get out of the way - I can't see the sea!" 😁

It’s particularly noticeable on Instagram where I’ve had people follow me and, when I’ve gone to view their profile to see if I want to follow them back, I’m greeted with several thousand images of themselves grinning in front of mountains, landmarks or meals.  To me it comes across as narcissistic in the extreme, but these people often have tens of thousands of followers.  Let’s be blunt here, much as I love writing I also need to earn a living so attracting followers is important for potential exposure and (hopefully but not as often as I’d like), selling books.

I tried putting a Twitter poll out a while ago to ask people what their views on selfies were and the overwhelming response was that they didn’t like them.  Now either different people are responding to my polls or else someone is telling porky pies because photos with my ugly mug in them will pretty much always get more likes and re-tweets than those without.  I also asked a similar question about super saturated photos versus “as nature intended” photos and Twitter told me that folks preferred “as nature intended” and yet it’s the super colour soaked photos that often attract more attention.  I’m beginning to think that Twitter is not to be trusted!

The "Shiny Shoes of Awesomeness"
Are photos of feet "selfies"?
I’ve spent time looking at travel bloggers – those with masses of followers and those with only a few to see if I can spot a difference.  I’m telling you now that if there was one, simple, straightforward answer that I could give you this blog post would break all known records and I’d become rich overnight. 

Photo credit: Phil Rigby
I’m not about to name the folks who don’t appeal to me because that feels rude and they are lovely people, I just personally wouldn’t feel comfortable doing what they’re doing.  I’ve wrestled with the “do I have to include more selfies when I really don’t want to just to improve my engagement figures” question for a while and eventually was inspired by one feed in particular: Mallory on Travel He’s got tens of thousands of followers and yet if you scroll through his Instagram feed you’ll find hundreds of gorgeous photos from around the world and he’s not in any of them.  He’s proved to me that selfies aren’t essential so I’ve decided to follow his example.  “People like people” so I know I need to appear somewhere and if you really want to know what I look like take a peek at my profile photos, other than that I’ll mostly be keeping my face well away from the camera.  

Having said all that, I’d be really interested to hear what your views are – and this isn’t one of those “post a question at the end of a blog to improve engagement stats” moments, I really am genuinely interested in understanding other viewpoints on this one.

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