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Could You Could Use a Focused Photography Community?

Are you tired of the algorithm-based world of social media and online platforms we all use online? If so, I have an alternative for you to consider..

I have to be honest about something: I’m losing my trust in the idea of the “free” platforms out there. The more I’m out there on YouTube and Facebook I’m realizing that every moment of our time there is monetized.

I won’t delve into the more troubling aspects of this explored in the great Netflix documentary Social Dilemma, but I’m noticing the wear-and-tear of our online world starting to grind me down.

An example:

Yesterday I stopped by YouTube to try and figure out a problem I was having with audio in Final Cut Pro. Within minutes I was trapped watching a video about a lens filter that softens the edges of highlights/shadows in video. Before I knew it I watched another video about it, searched on Amazon for the product and placed it in my shopping cart.


I was in the “zone” editing, focused on making an artistic and fun nature video, and before you knew it I was carefully guided through the YouTube funnel to make a purchase I didn’t even remotely need. 

Worse than all of this is that I had originally just wanted to spend a few minutes there to solve a problem and an hour later I was so distracted by the power of the feed and the sales pitches of the videos that I was completely lost. I closed my video editing session down because I was so lost in the depths of the internet void I couldn’t bring myself back to creativity.

So what did I do? I still needed to solve a problem, so later on I checked into Facebook, the world’s largest social platform. There are many communities there, but the entire platform is an algorithm-based drip of dopamine designed to keep you addicted like someone pulling the lever at a slot machine at a casino. I went in looking to again find an answer to a question, only to be guided by the Facebook Mind Control machines to something completely unrelated. Before long I was enraptured by cute pictures of animals and then teary-eyed by the emotional story of a rescue animal, and then ready to buy a product from a company who gives a percentage of profits to rescue groups.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just not strong enough to resist the power of the intent behind these platforms. If you’re not having any of these issues, then I envy you!

But these things are designed to control the narrative and make us pay their bills with our attention.

All the other platforms are doing the same thing. Have you noticed the “stories” feature appearing everywhere? Each of these are fun and cool, and I’ll admit to having experimenting with them… but do you notice that ads are fed to you constantly? Do you notice your mood changing, sometimes for the worse? I do and I’m struggling to balance my use of social media in a healthy way. 

Even my first (and only) internet social media love, Instagram, is getting on my nerves. I still find community there and some great friends I enjoy seeing, but more and more I’m disheartened by the direction Facebook is taking Instagram and I find myself scrolling through my feed, barely giving true feedback to other photographers they deserve. Meaningful interaction there is becoming less common.

Social media is overwhelming. It’s exhausting. It’s not what I want for my time spent being creative and part of an online community.

These “free” social platforms have a “cost” that we pay as users.

This cost worries me, and it’s why I built Cameras and Coffee Cups.

Through the years as a teacher I’ve repeated the same quote that many of us have heard a variation of: “if you want to change the world, be the one to change it.” This community is one of my attempts to follow this advice.

I’ve seen some really cool interactions here. People sharing. People cheering each other on. Some of the participants have reached out to me to say “thank you” for what I’ve built there.

So, what are you waiting for? Check it out, and say “hello” when you’re there.