"You need to get on Facebook, mate." I'm not sure if that is an exact quote. I'm not even sure who said it. But let me tell you the context it was said in... I was sitting in an internet cafe in San Juan Del Sur (in English, Saint John of the South), Nicaragua, with one of the Terry brothers (Ben or Mitch) sitting to my left, showing him photos on my Myspace back in October of 2008.
After my divorce, I started a Myspace page for the sole purpose of looking at photos of cute girls that lived nearby. This turned into me actually using it as a social network. If you would like to time travel, the page still exists at https://myspace.com/nathansanborn. Although, I can't view the page without logging in to Myspace, and I have no idea how to do that anymore. But then after I got back from Nicaragua, a cute girl that made out with me one night didn't have Myspace, only Facebook. How was I going to internet stalk her without Facebook? So I switched over to Facebook. Years later Facebook is much more about social interaction and self promotion than anything else, but yes, I still use it to internet stalk cute girls!
I grew to like Facebook. It got a little less cool when I became Facebook friends with my mom and aunts, but at the same time having everybody in the pool made it more interesting. I was able to share my photography, write long notes about stuff that was on my mind, and share memes about cats doing science. I could chat with people through my phone, even when we were in different countries. I could keep track of friends that I otherwise would never have the chance to talk with. Best of all I was able to reconnect with people from my past, everyone from elementary school to the Marines were now easy to keep in touch with. I loved following the lives of people otherwise long forgotten and seeing how amazing and diverse their lives had become. Really Facebook was all I needed in a social network online.
Then I started a business and it all went to shit. Conventional wisdom for small business marketing is that you have to have a strong social media presence. You have to be on Twitter, on Instagram, on Flickr, on Pintrist, and on that new thing we haven't even heard of yet that the kids will prefer over Snapchat.
First I signed up for Twitter, and then I had to tweet. The idea of mini blogging or whatever tweeting is always seemed stupid to me, #anotherwateoftime #ithinkhashtaggingisstupid #fml. It's kinda sad to start a Twitter feed. 3 months after starting Twitter I'm up to 7 followers. How sad it was months ago when I was only talking to 3 Twitter followers, 2 of whom were the same person.... But, this is a part of my job now. The only way to get more followers is to be more interesting more often, so I tweet away. Actually, the majority of my tweets are generated by my website to let the world know I've posted something new. For example, as of this moment my last tweet was a link to this blog post. And twitter can be a bit of a time suck. I started by following my favorite comedians, and even with following very few people, their ability to write tweets greatly exceeds my ability to determine which ones are worth reading. But hell, if you like Twitter then go for it. Follow me at @NathanSanborn if you want... you cold be number 8! Or is that #8 and I could hashtag it ##8.
Next comes Instagram. Man did I not want to do that. Now, I'm not an old man.... if you don't believe me, ask my dad. I was trying to complain about a minor health issue which I'd never experienced before to my dad and tried to brush it off as just getting old. I'm a grown up, and don't need my parents to keep me in line, but that doesn't stop my father from yanking my choke chain to keep me on track if he thinks I could use some direction. "You're not old!" he snapped at me, and I instantly realized he was right. It's hard to get age related sympathy from your 72 year old father, especially when his 93 year old mother serves to remind him that he ain't that old either! So there, we've established that I'm young and vibrant and in the prime of my life. In fact, today I am the youngest I will ever be again! But I can feel old man Sanborn creeping into my soul. I get a bit fuddy duddy at the idea of pushing a button on my phone to make a picture look like a bad snapshot from the 70's. "I just took a mediocre picture", add filter, tag people, "I'm a photographic genius!" You just pushed a button to make that picture look like darkroom mistakes that were unacceptable when I was learning photography! GET OFF MY LAWN! But, then again, there really is some great work put up on Instagram, and if I consider myself a good photographer, couldn't I learn to put up good work on instagram. I truly believe that the tool you use to capture the image is not very important compared to the image you choose to capture. And who knows, maybe this can be fun. So I'm trying to learn to enjoy Instagram. Plus Instagram gave new life to some old negatives from photo 101, they weren't good enough to print because the developer streaked on the negative, but I loved the photo itself, in 1998 it was an unusable mistake, today it is an analog version of an Instagram filter. If you want you can check out my work at NATHANSANBORN on Instagram. There isn't much on there... yet!
Then, I need Flickr. I have a lot of photographer friends, and almost all of them are on Flickr. I Always enjoyed searching through photos on Flickr. I have no idea why I didn't want to be on Flickr. I don't know if I was worried about having my work stolen or what. Then you realize that no matter what, if you put a picture online someone has the ability to steal it. The choice is to put up work that is hopefully worth stealing and maybe get attention from people who are photo buyers, or sit alone in my living room holding my images greedily for no one but me to enjoy. I can't decide between a Lord of the Rings "my precious" or Daffy Duck in the cave with the gold yelling "MINE! MINE! ALL MINE!" as a visual to go along with this, but you get the point. I really do want a place other than my portfolio on my website to share my work, and it will have a lower bar of entry so more of my work can be shown. Plus you can't search images on Facebook. As I write this (days before I post it, screw you for calling me a procrastinator) I don't have a single image up on my Flickr, but maybe by the time you're reading this (now, to be exact) there will be... Why don't you find out for yourself at Nathan Sanborn on Flickr.
So yeah, I'm feeling anti social. It's worse when you have to be social. But I can imagine having a conversation with my old man ("He's not old!" - Helen Sanborn, age 93) where I tell him "I don't want to be social" just to have him snap my chain and bark "You need to be social!" So like a little butterfly I spread my wings across the net.