A hot chocolate recipe to ponder upon the fakeness of perfect lives and the artistic strifes of the everyday artist
Last week the world wide web was punctuated with opinions on the so called fakeness of instagrammed lives, mostly due to some chick coming out saying all her images reflected what was a fake lifestyle, and a fake notion of happiness and perfection, that it had all been done for the sake of collecting followers while getting sponsorships from brands and thus falling prey to contract obligations of having to post whatever goods the brands sent her way in chirpy, sassy, perky instagram posts that were all a lie.
Many people - a lot of people, really - raised their hands in applause to her, for having the guts to expose the harsh reality of "what brands will force you to do in order for you to keep being sponsored.". I found myself feeling confused, faced with an image of instagram I probably was ignoring forcefully, but with which I myself must be confronted every single day with falling victim to spams from fake accounts promising to boost your follower and likes number if you pay for a package of both things. Still, no one was pointing a gun to her head forcing her to post those pictures, it was a choice she made when she decided she wanted to accept the sponsorships. It's an ongoing reality not only on instagram, but on other social medias as well, and we all know it. Still, I find it so easy to spot the "grab the sponshorships gimme the followers" posters that I usually shirk away from those. But I'm aware I have given my likes to quite a number of them.
So I went through my instagram feed like mad, watching with a careful eye every single picture that came up, only to find myself puzzled at what the world was raving against, and finding it hard to believe others didn't find on instagram what I usually do. See, I have a very different opinion of instagram. I don't see it as a vanity fair of sorts, like most people seem to. I see it as a window into art, everyday art, common people art, inexpensive and sometimes visceral art, glorious and most talented art at other times. Yes, the web has made artists of us all. Jim Morrisson once said "death makes angels of us all and gives us wings where we had shoulders", I am of the opinion that the advent of social media made artists of us all and gave us wings where we had shackles. We can all strive to make our forms of art, and share it with the world or not, thanks to social media. We are now free to pursuit our artistic endeavours, however untalented those may be. We are free. And, yet, we are more bound to slavery than we were twenty years ago. But it's such a particular form of slavery...
Perhaps I regard instagram - as opposite to blogs, or youtube, or snapchat - this way because I am so picky with whom or what I follow on instagram. I was thinking out hard of whom amongst the accounts I followed could be accused of falling prey to what was said of the fakeness of instagrammed lives, and there were a few that sprang to mind (Chiara Ferragni at the top of them all, but the fact is that this is her living, this is how she earns her living, and if most people cannot understand that what she depicts is not common folks' real life, then they do have a problem!) that I have silently accused of being as fake as my faux leather pants and of posting instagram feeds only for the sake of amassing followers and get those elusive packages of gifts from expensive and well known brands. I do have a few of those on the list of whom I follow, and some times I wish I was "brave" enough to unfollow those accounts because what they actually post is not inspiring for me, it is not artistic to me, it is not interesting to me. What happens is that most times I do like the person behind the account and I keep following said account because of that. So what if they dream of being the next Chiara, so what if what they post is so contrived, so false, so thought of and worked on as to elicit more likes and amass more followers? I know what their purpose behind that account is, and if they chose to live their life like that, it is their prerogative, innit?
Most of the accounts I do follow are of people whom I consider to be making art, and to be posting their artistic views of life and the world. Be it in the world of food photography, where obviously enough every little detaiL IS staged and thought of and arranged in specific ways that will enhance the food per se - it's called styling, it doesn't mean that food was not meant to be eaten later on, even if it was poised in such a way for the photo! - be it in photographs of stark and gloomy landscapes that have been edited to look either gloomier or to enhance some details, be it in the pictures of home decors that always look perfect and clean and de-cluttered, filled with details that make your heart nearly burst at the loveliness. To my sense of aesthetics, those are artistic endeavours that elicit some sort of emotion from me. I gasp when I see their images pop up on my feed. My heart flutters at what they show me, what my imagination makes of it. They force a physical reaction from me. And when this happens, to my view point, it means that it's not false, not fake, not perfected for instagram purposes - whatever those may be.
Is it fake? I don't think so. Is it staged? That, yes. It is most certainly staged. When I post a picture of my breakfast every morning, I arranged my cup in a certain way, and I lay the bread to make it look more appetizing, and I use filters that speak to me and make food look good to me - doesn't mean it looks good to you! Is that fake? I don't think so, the cup was there, filled to the brim with milk and coffee, the bread also, buttered and layed down on a pretty plate. I ate that. But the photo I took, and what I did with it, well that is my attempt at making my own art. It doesn't mean it is Art, but it is art to me. As I am pretty sure it is art what the people I follow there do with the images they post. Besides the enormous amount of people who do go around posting the exact same type of image, showing off what they have, what they bought, what they were offered, besides the huge amount of people who try to pretend their lives are something other than what their lives really are, there are a number of real feeds out there that surely deserved to be given more credit. The thing is, people are so obsessed with perfection, with riches, with consumerism, all they want is the more is more is more, all they want is to have, to own and to show off, and any account that portrays this kind of lifestyle... well, those are the ones getting the numbers. But you can't blame the people behind those accounts, you can only blame yourselves, as you're the ones giving the likes, and following and thus growing their numbers, only to later turn your backs in envy and point your fingers as you accuse them of portraying fake lifestyles. The one you are now accusing merely took advantaged of what the world wants to see, and capitilized on that.
Of course there's a lot of nasty things about instagram, about all social media in fact. I have seen accounts being forcefully deleted of people I follow, for posting nude images, nudes they make in very artistic ways, images that are like poetry, so beautiful and evocative they are. I have seen them be dennounced as improper contents only because of said nudity, and those photos being deleted or entire accounts be forced shut. And then I have come across those fake profiles used for scam that depict at their profile image a shot of a woman's rear clad in a thong, all round and shiny and as perky as Kim Kardashian's behind, and those do not get denounced nor deleted. I find that kind of image a lot more degrading than artistical nudes even if those are full frontal. I have also come across those accounts that are purely sexually oriented, feeds so full of images of women (and some of men too) who, despite being dressed, or only in their underwear, are so lurid, so obscene as if they were taken off of a porn film - sorry, I'm not a fan of porn - and with accompannying texts that could be read as prostitution enticements. Those don't get deleted, nor the accounts forced to shut down. And if you search for "dark" in instagram hashtags, besides photos of goths being all glamorous and stylish, you'll come across hardcore pornography. And I mean hardcore. Those accounts and those images also do not get deleted. Capitalisation, again. Sex sells. Perfect lives do to. But you're the ones who put those up there in their pedestals, and now you go and throw them in the fire? Well, that's human nature for ya...
What I think I mean to say is, instagram is what instagrammers make of it. While certain people will be posting non stop, tagging and hashtagging away every single brand name they can remember in hopes of being seen by said brands and maybe, just maybe, get lucky, other people will use instagram to elicit sex and pornography, others will use it to depict that regular, normal, everyday lives, not caring a dot about the "low quality, bad lighting, bad styling" on the images they post, and others will use it to share their art. Some may even do a bit of every - except for the sex part, me thinks! - one of those things, and others will be so upset and jealous that they will simply dennounce the people they envy in a shattered attempt to make themselves feel better. Others will go and spend money on buying packages of followers and likes and then be like "Soooo grateful! Thank you!" when they know that those numbers are not real, and they will feel better with themselves for it, and less alone, less invisible, and yet others will stare in amazement and disgust as they see a shoddy, ugly picture that has received so many likes and it's just the ugliest picture you've seen on instagram how is it possible that it gets all those likes and mine don't when they are clearly better? Social media is not a livingr, breathing entity. It is what we make of it. So maybe before complaining about this so called enforcement of perfection, maybe you should all take a really good look at what you get on your feed, and what and whom you chose to follow, and what pictures you chose to give your likes to.
Instagram is what we make of it, and how we choose to see it, and what we choose to do with it. So go grab yourselves a cup of hot chocolate and take the time to browse through your feed and maybe you'll come out seeing things in a different light, or maybe you won't. My hot choc recipe for one is as follows:
- one cup milk (full or semi skimmed, you can even use half milk half cream)
- about fifteen to twenty dark chocolate chips
- one full teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
- one pinch of vanilla extract
- a very very tiny pinch of salt
- sugar to taste (I like it rather on the less sugary side)