Essays

A collection writings and thoughts by artist Gary Llama.

On Social Media And Visual Clutter

Something that has been bothering me lately: Visual Clutter. And I don’t mean in the visual design sense of it, but rather in the web architectural sense.

For the past few years, services have cropped up allowing folks to connect with one another. The idea is to make it easier to connect with others. And some of these services do that well. But at some point, web developers started focusing en masse on making new ‘social’ tools. The result: Many of us, in sharing the thing we do, be it music, art, writing, etc, end up employing a few of these tools, these networks, to reach the folks we want to reach with our art.

The problem: There are now too many fucking tools. And worse, we don’t really have a literacy for their strengths yet.

Case in point: Follow the Twitter feed of a band, and it’s tweeting their Instagram. Their Instagram is also going to their Tumblr, and most of it is ending up on their Facebook as well. So if you follow this artist on all four of those mediums, you will receive the same message four different times. And perhaps more, as each service pings in their copy of it to the other. In such settings, you can witness a Twitter post on Facebook, tweeting about a Tumblr post, that originated on their Instagram.

But Why?

We see these tools as ‘how to reach people’, when like most communication tools, they reach some people. And some tools overlap between people. For these unlucky folks, they get the messages in bulk. Annoying? Yes. Spammy? Yes. And in certain cases they violate the norms of that service. For example: While Facebook users may be used to seeing reposts come across their feed, on Twitter, it can seem drone-ish, as if someone forgot to care. Like there is a conversation going on, but we are just getting passed on the note cards about what was said. On a conversational medium like Twitter, that is considered impolite: spammy.

Why do we use so many tools?

I think we are afraid that if we don’t use a lot of these tools, no one will know about our thing. But in using all of them carelessly, we bombard the internet with duplicates and triplicates of the same thing. And that creates clutter. Meta posts about meta posts rather than an original thoughtfull post. And by doing this, we further increase the noise of the channels to demand even more attempts to get through the noise we are creating. It’s like being in in a car in traffic: we are part of the traffic.

Tornadoes don’t have Twitter

If something is important and effects folks, they will share it. Just look at any natural phenomenon, and see how much of it comes across social media. Did the Tornado fire up it’s ipad to share a selfie? No, folks concerned with it did. And I think that is the position we need to move towards: Have confidence in what we make, to know, that if it effects people, they will probably share it.

The opposite of this is effecting people with our message delivery, shoving it down their throat, or creating more noise in the channel they are in. As Marshall McLuhan said “the medium is the message”, and as I like to say “product is the product of process”: So ff the the delivery is shit, then so is your message. It’s inherent in it now.

So perhaps instead of escalating the noise, the shit; Let’s try to keep it tolerale. Let us tone down the noise.

P.S. At times I’ve been guilty of this too. This is a moment of clarity, and a blueprint for the future.

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Llamatism is a collection of things, a cabinet of curiosities, and reports from explorations on things, by Gary Llama.

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