Blog / 2020 / Why I Am Deleting Facebook and Instagram

September 30, 2020

We live in exceptionally strange times. The pandemic has drastically changed daily life around the world, and, in the US, it’s worse still. We have religious extremists bent on destroying democracy who are somehow managing to appeal to the basest instincts of a thoroughly irreligious autocrat. The fabric of American society is being remade as we speak.

So when I was asked to speak to an art business class at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, I knew I wanted to give students at least one piece of advice specific to this bizarre moment. This is the only thing I could come up with:

Avoid social media when promoting your art.

It was a bit counterintuitive considering I’d been invited by their professor based on what he’d seen on my social media over the years, but I stand by my suggestion.

Ever since Facebook and Instagram ditched the chronological timeline in favor of one driven by an idiotic algorithm whose sole purpose is to keep people on the platform longer, social media is no longer effective for independent artists. It doesn’t matter how much you post or how beautifully you do, if you don’t already have an audience, it’s very hard to persuade the computer program running the show that it should make your content visible.

Beyond this consideration of course, there are the moral ones of partnering with a company whose algorithm actively promotes hate across the world. That’s right: FB’s and IG’s computer overlord rewards content that creates engagement, and that includes posts that incite violence. With our help, Zuckerberg has inspired genocide.

Gwenn Seemel at an opening for Critics Critiqued at Visage in Portland, Oregon
photo by Annie Seemel

This is me at 22 years old, hosting my first ever professional art opening. The people who showed up to see my cheeky portrait series Critics Critiqued were a mix. Many were people who’d known me since I was a kid, happy to be able to support me in my new endeavor. More were those who always came to events at the glasses store and gallery where I was showing. Some were just doing the rounds of openings at different galleries, grazing on the snacks at each stop.

And I talked to every single one of them!

Or as many as I could. I had a notebook where people could sign up for my email list, and by sending out a lot of press releases I eventually got press for this show, which pushed even more people to go see it and check out my website.

painted portrait of a white woman with dark hair
Gwenn Seemel
Signe Lawrence (Lawrence Gallery)
2003
acrylic on canvas
48 x 34 inches

Everything I did that November night in 2003 is still available to artists today. You can bring people who know you from outside the art context into your creativity. And you can partner with small businesses or institutions who get something out of promoting your art to their community.

Bonus: when you build your audience this way, the connections tend to be more authentic and lasting.

painted portrait of a young white man with glasses
Gwenn Seemel
Gavin Shettler (Portland Art Center)
2003
acrylic on canvas
48 x 34 inches

This is why I am deleting my Facebook and Instagram accounts by the end of the year. I’ll still be sharing on my blog and through Patreon, Twitter, and Redbubble, but FB and IG will no longer be part of my vocabulary!

I’ve given myself a few months to talk with friends on those platforms, explain my choice, and hopefully find a way to stay in touch outside of FB and IG. I’m not going to lie: it’s a lot of work. Still, the relief I feel makes the effort completely worthwhile.


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