United States of William (USWM)

on Leaving Hipstamatic


Each fiscal quarter I put my Yearly subscriptions under a very harsh and unforgiving lens of scrutiny. The second quarter of the year puts DayOne, Hipstamatic, Obsidian Sync, and Digital Blasphemy under this lens. We reflect and contemplate the pros and cons of keeping the service around. We debate the value it brings into our lives or if we use the service because we know we are paying hard-earned money for it.

Any app or service that invokes the idea of achievements, streaks, monthly contests, etc. should be the ones that raise the largest red flags for violating your time. These tactics are masked as neat and clever ways to "encourage you to be better" but the reality is quite different. This system is in place to keep your precious time spent engaged with whatever service is making sure you don't forget about your bullshit streak being broken.

Hipstamatic is a great application. The things that it can do to your photos by way of the "lenses", "flashes" and "films" filtering system are beyond anything I have ever seen. It's no contest by comparison to the obvious free alternative, Instagram. I started using the application last year, and it really kept my creative juices flowing during those moments when I didn't have my camera in my hand and I had a couple of minutes to spare.  This was only at the beginning tho. As time had moved on, the deeper subtleties of photography wandered into my mind and took up moments all on their own. Like all other social media platforms, it also deeply concerns itself with the social aspects of engaging you with people you will never meet in the real world. You have followers and 'friends' whom you will obligated to like and comment on the content they post so they don't think you think their work is garbage. You go thru love-hate relationships with the algorithms, sometimes spending way too much time browsing other people's work, or too much time fucking around with your 'gear' and making all these neat filters that you use on future photos you take.

But of what? There is a streak system in place on the app that will strongly encourage you to keep that streak going, which will over a long enough timeline has you taking pictures of inanimate objects from strange angles or with strange shadows with no real taste or thoughtfulness behind it for the sole purpose of making sure that badge doesn't disappear from your profile (that only you obsess over—and only after someone whose work you admire has a number higher than yours).  We are not hanging these pictures on our wall or printing them off at Walgreens as canvas prints and giving as gifts.  I am sure there are people out there in the world who are dedicated phone photographers who may, and that's fine and dandy. These moments I tinkering with my imaginary gear I would much rather spend doing something much more valuable and useful to my overall bigger picture.

Swipes, double taps, and those comments I often let auto suggest say for me: I am at my peak and very much over this shit.

So no more Hipstamatic for me. No more "Its innocent social media." or "It's social media light." or "The paywall makes it better!" justifications for wasting these precious moments of my life. Please let's help our grandparents understand why these things are so important to us. Have them truly understand why they are. If we cannot do this, perhaps there is a much larger question that needs to be asked internally.

This was originally posted on IAmWill.ing.

DISCLAIMER: Ran this post thru spell-check with ProWritingAid to clean up my sloppy grammar. However, it tried to take almost my entire voice of the text out, so most of the suggestions were ignored. Additionally, the body of text was given to DALL-E 3 and instructed to make it's artistic representation of it in whatever fashion it wanted to.

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