Popularity is Overrated

Last night I found myself looking at pictures. I was browsing through books at first and then at various photography sites on the internet. It’s amazing to me how people crave manufactured validity. Of course, everyone wants their work to be liked and appreciated and I completely get that. I really do. But what I don’t understand are the social media sites with the ridiculous ratings and the fawning comments. As if a like on Instagram is a measure of self-worth or a sign of relevance and a vapid comment or faint praise on TikTok is more valuable than thoughtful criticism.

I know in society we’re programmed this way. We’re assigned grades, given bonuses, and awarded stars. But really, what’s the point of rating a photograph? It almost seems that to some people, the grade is the point, and the actual work and creative process is simply a means to an end. It’s only the rating that matters and any negative reaction is a vicious attack on their character and very being. How silly.

Criticism & Popularity

From where I sit, popularity is nothing. To me universal praise is the surest sign of a banal product. If somebody is not criticizing the work, and fervently so, something must be wrong. Most likely it’s work that fails to challenge, inspire, or excite the viewer. Not every reaction should be positive. And if that’s the case, I can almost guarantee the work is condescending in its blandness.

Like the old saying goes, hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is. Any truly great piece of art will be both hated and loved. Anything else is indifference. Simply put, I’d much rather be both adored and despised by a select few than mildly applauded by the masses. When I hear criticism along with praise, I know I’ve provoked. I know I’ve inspired. Popularity is overrated and great praise is hollow without the fervent denial of a few.

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