• Clotaire Mandel

What social medias wanted from me.

Mis à jour : août 24



I feel, since quite some times, uninterested for social media, almost a distaste. And I tried to probe the question, to understand why. Long story short, I have the feeling of be offered the exact same content. Irretrievably. Whoever talk, and no matter how different all of us can be. Wherever people are travelling through and opposite our experiences can be. I feel reading and seeing the same eternal things.

The algorithmic question :

I kinda hate myself talking about it, using this word, as the concept completely overwhelmed me. And I have a complete lack of interest for the subject anyway. But I needed to understand. Wanted to understand. I love understanding things. And what I get from all of this is pretty simple, the instagram algorithm push forward some sort of pattern, and publications who follow this pattern have more chance to be "successful". Which basically means that the reason why we could realize seeing the exact same content it's because people are publishing following this pattern, they previously understood, to end up with a very strategic content. The day and the hour. The photo and the text. We attract the algorithm to have a chance to attract human eyes. Then we push into interaction to grow up in the virtual hierarchy. In 2020, a period of our history where we have access to an unbelievable amount of knowledge, where humans are crossing the world in a blink to have a glimpse of how the other side of the planet is doing. Why are we stagnating in an average of very low quality content sharing, caused by an endless repetition ? When scrolling down the page, the only thing I can see is a succession of similar photos. As much stories as protagonists, although the content remains the same, tirelessly. We know, without personally knowing them, who rides with which type of bike or gear. Although we would toil to seize what makes the wealth of those journeys. Toil to receive some "news from the world". It's all made for us to fit in the mould of this invisible machine who offers us in exchange the right to talk widely, to touch a largest audience. To get something back. And to reach this point, is a few rules to be followed. It's tacit rules, well rounded, and following it brings to be push forward. And if you see accounts publishing only photos of they cute faces cycling or ingenuously looking at the scenery, it's first of all to be granted a better pace in this virtual mess. And this ultimate goal means that we don't see much other than that, cause the reasons of why we share have diametrically changed. So, if you want you virtual life to rise, you got the bend yourself enough to satisfy the system.

So for a second I was wondering, why not me ?

Letting my account growing, becoming more important, and pulling out benefits from that, whatever it could be. For that, you need to "engage" you audience, create movement and interactions. It goes through different points : liking, commenting, sharing, answering polls and questions. Concretely, besides of regulating publications to stick to the ideal frame, we offer to a whole world of perfect unknown to judge, comment, and even decide somehow. But if it works, why not trying then ? I think firstly and globally speaking, I refuse to offer too much space to unknown person when speaking of my private space, my existence. And it would give the feeling that I care of the people's judgement when it comes to my choices, decisions and the road I should take. Because this notion of "engagement" publication-wise means that those precise unknown people could make me bend on some decisions, and at the end, deciding instead of me .Which is to be fair, far from being close to happen. I don't want people to decide which road I should go for, or the colour of my underwear I could potentially wear, or to know if my pastas look good even tho I know they look like crap. But again, seems to work for others. But I don't want. I actually clearly and simply refuse. Refuse to be guided in any way by an invisible hand, digital and composed by unfamiliar humans. I don't want to be guided either for my road, my thoughts, my words or my posts. And at first I wrote about the people I saw changing their way of sharing, as they were now strategically sharing. Not sharing any more for the sake of love for photography or writings, but drive by a simple marketing and communication strategy. However, concerning my small virtual world, I don't want to sell anything else than truth. I wrote about others at first, but didn't want to hurt anyone, so thought would be more clever to utter my self critic. Because it bothers me in the approach itself; I think that makes the hole idea of sharing is journey completely skewed. Misled by a guideline who pulls us out of the sensitive way we perceive the world at first, in thoughts as in pictures. This damn mania of capturing the most seducing portion to share the impression of living something sweet, sexy and enviable. We offer what we know saleable. And saleable means bright and shiny, means being a source of dreams and envy. Although, what about the pretty words everybody start to sing when they're being asked why are they're bike touring. All this beautiful human notions and semblance of research about sociology, religiosity, the avenue towards the unknown we roam in, the social distanciation we practice to leave our own small world. This is how we get stuck in a binary model of sharing as we live for what would be nice looking on a screen. But how can we loose the charm of an instant and sacred life, and yield it for a virtual gossip who steals by the way our sincerity and full consciousness of the present moment ? Why are we living the moment through a screen, who brutally and insidiously takes us out of the actual real world we are living in ? Where this necessity of sharing everything in live comes from ? And to do it following the rules to makes it profitable.

How this new age way of sharing shake our way of travelling ? And how the sharing become uninteresting, and overall, what does it means ?

It means that we do not post what we would necessarily do. Well, some do. But for those who have a tiny bit of virtual ambition, and who aim reaching their goals, they have to be mindful of the rules. Far from entirely and solely blaming us, as we create the content that we know has the best chance to be put forward by the platform. Overall it's not a personal desire to publish what we do publish, neither to find what we do find in. Cuz the platform guides who is publishing towards what it wants him to publish. And here we are, users are facing systematically the same pattern because it was imposed upstream.

But it's also fun to consider what would be saleable or not. And to realise that I'm far more attracted by the sincerity of perfect unknown travellers rather than the posts of what I call the "like machines" of the bike touring community. And this is how I made this observation : we could not go any further than our garden, but post photos of a beautiful and well equipped bike, all of this with a very meticulous aesthetic, and we could bet that the virtual ascent would be fast. Because the construction of this application and the manner people use it means that we don't spend more than a few second on each post, and the next to come. We need concrete. Some "right now" and easy to digest. Easy to understand and to "like". That's the recipe. We can offer to a large public our semblance and interest for others, as long as it's hidden behind pages and pages of self-portraits. But what does it say ?

It says a lot through the fact that publications are guided. And everybody round up around the concept. We exist mainly because of our omnipresence. We exist because we have the power to be an idol. We do not exist because of the purity of our constant and hard work. We do not exist for ourself at first. But "we are" because of our notoriety. And from there we walk by the principal idea, the essence of what makes our traveller hearts pulsing. This high and noble idea everybody is still singing as a choir, although we slowly loose the deep meaning of what are actually guiding our acts. I have the feeling that we miss out the essential. Essential in a way that it's what we were at first aiming for, looking for, digging out for. This is what cost us sacrifices, necessary to reach this nomadic state. A free spirit as an essential starting point for a brighter life. However, in what I see streaming, I mostly find out the apparent love people have for themselves. An endless series of self portrait I can't handle any more. Or maybe they do it because of the digital diktat. Which is actually worst.

It says about us that we are able to be blindly guided in our acts and thoughts to reach something totally blurry and unpredictable. Like an artificial notoriety online. We can avoid speaking about the essentials. We can hush our deep convictions. We decide not to publish an interesting photo as it not gonna pay anything back. We decide to publish for the sake of publishing. To remain active and visible. We deprive ourselves of fundamental freedoms when being trapped in a digital cage. We decide of a road to take, of a photo to seize, of a story to tell not because of what it does represent for us or for the interest it could have for the common welfare. But in a search of a presentable aesthetic who will pay back. We do all of this to satisfy an algorithm who will in exchange feed us with virtual recognition. We religiously abide by what a system expects from us. We offer what we are ask to give, even tho it doesn't entirely satisfy us.

Our human kind has never been so less rebel. Never been so less spiteful against the ambient mediocrity and the freedom deprivation the digital world carry with all its good promises. But also, it touch everybody's identity. The brutal comedown caused by a sudden landing in New Zealand, is also due to this virtual existence. Life on the road, the sharing, the adventure. And suddenly nothing any more. Quarantine, lockdown, sedentary, struggles. The feeling, in a way, that I did lost a part of myself, of my existence. To have nothing any more to talk about, and to be the shadow of my former self. This instagram account, it's also a part of myself as it's a place where I can freely express myself and where people are reading and listening what I'm saying. So, having nothing to offer any more was clearly like loosing a slice of my person. Although, who's writing and sharing, it's the true version of myself. The carnal version of myself. The only one who physically exists and who are able to think and write. And this precise person has thing to offer in the real life. It was just needed to learn how to split those two sides of myself. What I would like to find. The reason why I started to faff in this social medial was a matter of inspiration. To see how roads and people look like. What they eat and how they live. Their smiles and their grumbles. Hearing their heartache and their hopes. Traditions and habits. Instead, I find only bike portraits and self portraits, where locals are omitted. The only thing I can see from other's journey and places where they are evolving is a gallery of well framed photos of their bike kit in a blurry shifting environment. And the substantive marrow to disappear. A very few testify of the brutality and the beauty of the other's existences from all over the world. A very few forget the self-portrait format to look into others. When did we start to aim our camera and curiosity towards our belly button- rather than highlighting the ones in whom we invite ourselves ? Tired of facing the same old famous photo of the bike or smiling selfies when eating some fucking Chinese noodles, I want to see ferocity and sweetness of the planet I'm living on. I want to see how Humans live, and for this exact reason I travel. But I would like to see it through some others glazes, by word and images.

But why talking for so long about all of this ? Cause yep, If I don't care about how the system works, why keep on chatting. Because I've almost been trapped in this golden ambush. I almost orientate my publications, and by the way my reflexion, towards what was expecting from me. By writing this, I have the small amount of my hair left perking up. A sort of unknown strength almost made emerging from my journey and my existence what it would have been judged aesthetic enough based on certain criteria, and what would have been saleable. When we understand what is expected from us, our glaze change. We would look after what we nowadays call the "instagrammable". Such a pitiful diminution of the world who surrounds us to only having an eye on what would be praised by the digital dictatorship. I almost used my camera only when I knew it would have been profitable and would have bring some appreciation for my audience. I was almost turning uninterested by people and stories as soon as they would be presentable for this audience. I almost abandoned my deep love for humanity, the human work and all its fascinating tales.

We are facing a notion of performance. Doing this and that for the sake of getting some things from it. Doing better to get more. Going further, faster and stronger than others to surpass everybody else in this ocean of thirsty users of virtual success.

That was close. Although, with all my heart, I swear getting back on the road as so as possible with new forces and motivations who will only be guided by my deep instincts and by my passion for what is surrounding me. I swear to continue grumbling and complaining when necessary and to offer a feedback in words and images of the world as I honestly perceive and live it. And not as some would like me to describe it. I promise myself the respect of the truth and the simple and pure acceptation of what and who could be around me without any sort of filter. And I promise to be the tireless witness and rapporteur. If I share, it's because I'm witnessing a whole universe of things a very few do. And as anyone else, I'm unique. I'm experiencing as anyone else could do. Through this unique glaze, brain, point of view, background and experiences, I testify of what I see.

le pedalistan www.lepedalistan.com lepedalistan clotaire mandel bikepacking biketouring voyage vélo traversée afrique

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