Blog / 2022 / Social Media Is Dead.

November 14, 2022

Right now, Elon Musk is messily dissecting social media’s corpse with his blunder-ful takeover of Twitter, but social media died some years ago. I’d date the murder to 2016, when all corporate platforms switched to algorithm-driven timelines, making it harder for you to see the content you actually decided to follow and effortless for the apps to spoon feed you the posts they want you to see instead.

That’s when social media became “sell-you-out” media. The platforms were always learning about you from your behavior and using that info to hyper-target their advertising—it’s how they make money and keep the app “free” for users. But in 2016 the manipulation of your self-esteem reached a whole new level. Any socializing that social media is still offering is an afterthought at this point.

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and all the others are dead.

It feels good to say it! Following in the footsteps of the 19th century French artist Paul Delaroche who, upon seeing a photograph for the first time, declared that painting is dead, and, more famously, of Friedrich Nietzsche who proclaimed that god is dead—and didn’t mean that the Christian deity had been crucified but that science had killed religion.

Neither Delaroche nor Nietzsche were correct, of course, and I’m not either. Humans still paint, worship, and supply way too much private information to social media companies. But, in a sense, we’re also kind of right.

Napoleon at Fontainebleau, 31 March 1814, painted by Paul Delaroche in 1845
Paul Delaroche Napoleon at Fontainebleau, 31 March 1814, painted in 1845

And Delaroche’s style of painting makes that completely clear. Between his attempt at capturing a real and recognizable representation of Napoleon where none of his brush strokes show and...

white woman with auburn hair smiling painting by Lambertville artist Gwenn Seemel
painting process for Cindy’s portrait desire to give you a version of Cindy that’s also obviously a painting, there are vast acres of difference in what is considered art. That enormous gap was filled with changes in paint manufacturing processes and Europeans being influenced by Japanese woodcut art, but most importantly with the invention of a medium that uses technology to represent three dimensions accurately in two dimensions. Why would a painter try to make a hyperrealistic image when a photographer can do it more easily?

white child with strawberry blond hair smiling mischieviously painting by Lambertville artist Gwenn Seemel
painting process for Regan’s portrait

Similarly, humanity’s relationship to divinity has shifted since science became a way of understanding our universe. People still believe, but most believers know things in a scientific sense as well now.

white dog painting by Lambertville artist Gwenn Seemel
painting process for Jules’ portrait

The same is true for social media. At this point, I doubt that anyone uses socials without at least a little concern for the effect these apps have on their brains. The habit-forming nature of social media is partly by design—the companies certainly work to make them as addictive as possible. But most of the draw of these apps is that they fulfill our need for connection. No amount of logical arguments for why social media is bad is going to outweigh the pull of meeting that basic necessity.

acrylic paintings of a woman, her child, and her dog, painted by Lambertville artist Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
Cindy and Regan and Jules
acrylic on paper
7 x 5 inches and 7 x 5 inches and 6 x 4 inches

I still hear business mentors recommending that artists up their game on social media. And artists regularly lament their lack of a following on these platforms, blaming low numbers for their inability to get gallery representation.

It saddens me when I hear people talk this way, because that thinking is at least a decade old. And back in 2012, many of these business coaches barely knew what Facebook was, and most galleries were worried that an artist having their own website—much less a social media page—was going to compete too much with the venue’s marketing. In other words, they didn’t know what they were talking about then, and they certainly don’t know now.

detail image of an acrylic paintings of a woman, painted by Lambertville artist Gwenn Seemel
detail of Cindy

I started my journey of quitting social media two years ago. I’m living proof that it’s possible to make a living as an artist without giving over your time or your brainspace to those platforms!

detail image of an acrylic paintings of a child, painted by Lambertville artist Gwenn Seemel
detail of Regan

If you’re interested in excising Instagram from your life, but unsure of how to proceed, check out this video explaining the perspectives of eight artists who’ve quit or this article detailing how to get art opportunities when you’re not on Facebook.

detail image of an acrylic paintings of a white dog, painted by Lambertville artist Gwenn Seemel
detail of Jules

I recently made a whole art show about quitting social media, and these paintings of Cindy, her child Regan, and her dog Jules are all from that series. In fact, their portraits along with the rest Friend Request are on display in Winifred Weiss’ studio window in Lambertville through the end of the month.

Winifred’s studio window
17 Church Street
(at the intersection with George)
Lambertville, NJ 08530

Open: now through November 30th
Hours: whenever (you can look in from the street)

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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