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You’ve seen it by now. At this point, maybe a dozen or more of your “friends” ( or just idiots you were dumb enough to accept a request from) are participating in this pointless growing social media phenomena. If you’re lucky enough not to be subjected to the latest social media annoyance, the basic premise is as follows.
Following in the illustrious footsteps of these past viral crazes, the challenge that has emerged from 2017’s rubble looks positively wimpy in comparison. It’s the “7 Days, 7 Photos” challenge, and my God is it an insult to the very concept of internet challenges. If you’ve been wondering why people have been clogging your Facebook feed with black-and-white photos, this is why: They’re participating in this so-called challenge to post a photo a day for seven days, but the photos must be black and white and contain no people or explanations. (Of course the “no explanations” rule is broken the second people post that they’re doing this, but I suppose that’s the least of anyone’s concerns.)
I’m going to ask the obvious question here: Since when does posting photos to Facebook constitute a challenge? That is one of the main points of Facebook! Many people can’t leave the house without posting a photo on Facebook. So to frame this as a challenge is just asking for trouble. The prompt to eschew color, people, and explanatory text has given participants free rein to post cringe-worthy “arty” pictures they’d normally have the good sense to be embarrassed by: their shadow-dipped lattes, their brooding pets, their kids’ tilted-over toys, often framed diagonally to add that extra “I’m doing serious photography” edge. The leaves! The cars! The fences! I saw one photo of a faucet, for some reason. Is this Facebook, or are these the photos that come prepackaged with frames at Ikea? I’ll give partial credit to the people who gave up entirely at creativity and and just took pictures of their cameras or laptops. If anything, this meme should help us appreciate how hard still-life photographers have it and how helpful color and human facial expressions are to the taking of good photos.
Well said. Beyond that, here are some additional beefs I have.
Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? I hated that too, but you know what? It was for a good cause. Reportedly, it raised $100 million for ALS research. Yes, it was a bit obnoxious and a nuisance, but seeing Ice getting dumped over your douchey boss’s head was entertaining. But even as these videos got stale, it was good to know participants were doing this to drive awareness to a specific cause. Sure, there are 20 billion things probably better than posting a video of you pouring ice on your head, but at least this qualifies as somewhat of a good thing. The photo challenge, though? There is nothing redeeming or good about it.
Seven Days, Seven Photos of Pensive Cats The pretentious “challenge” taking over Facebook is neither a challenge nor a good meme.
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OK, let’s say you do this. Someone you look up to challenged you and you just give in. The stupid rules to this stupid challenge say you need to challenge someone else to do this every day you post. It’s like a dumb pyramid scheme except nobody makes money and we just have proliferated a bunch of photos of coffee cups.
No people? Everyday life? I’m sorry, but life (or at least mine) is not that scenic or artistic. I work from home. Yesterday, the only time I left was to get a smog check of my car. None of that warrants a photo. None of my friends are clamoring for a black and white photo of my office or my car getting smog checked. Let’s say you could take a few good black and white photos. That’s still just a few! You have to do this for seven straight days.
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In my day, the word challenge implied that something was actually, well, challenging. Remember 2014’s Ice Bucket Challenge? Hackneyed and pointless or not, it was at least a genuine ordeal. Or what about the Kylie Lip Challenge? Against medical advice, kids defied one another to get their lips to swell using shot glasses as vacuums. Now that was a challenge. Even the Mannequin Challenge required some effort: You try freezing in place and making a decent video of it.
Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Natalie Matthews-Ramo and Thinkstock.
If you tag me to do this, you’re basically giving me a homework assignment. You’re asking me to take some time out of my day for a full week. Time is precious and any social media trend that requires my time needs to have some type of payoff. This doesn’t. I wouldn’t like doing it and 98% of whoever follows me wouldn’t either.
Since when does posting photos to Facebook constitute a challenge? That is one of the main points of Facebook! Many people can’t leave the house without posting a photo on Facebook. So to frame this as a challenge is just asking for trouble. The prompt to eschew color, people, and explanatory text has given participants free rein to post cringe-worthy “arty” pictures they’d normally have the good sense to be embarrassed by: their shadow-dipped lattes, their brooding pets, their kids’ tilted-over toys, often framed diagonally to add that extra “I’m doing serious photography” edge. The leaves! The cars! The fences! I saw one photo of a faucet, for some reason.
The poster then mentions who “challenged” them and then on each day when they post a photo, they tag someone they’d like to see post seven dumb and boring black and white photos. I’ll let Slate do some of the heavy lifting here as to why this is stupid.
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The Facebook and Instagram 7-day Black and White Challenge is terrible and needs to be stopped Just say no.
Seven days, seven photos in black and white of your everyday life. No explanation, no people.
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As with the Ice Bucket Challenge, photographers are encouraged to tag friends to rope them in, one friend for each of the seven days. I hope a lot of people decline or politely forget to participate, because if everyone who’s tagged starts posting photos in this vein, we’re going to have to burn down Facebook. (As if all the Russian-purchased ads weren’t bad enough!) Facebook was already corny, but taking the people out of it and rendering it all in pretentious black and white is one thumbs-up more than I’m willing to dole out.
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It’s not just that these photos are now maybe 10-15% of the content I’m seeing on Instagram and Facebook, but it’s also that if you are a lackey who gets sucked into this, you have to post SEVEN times. If you’re anything like me, you’re selective of what you post and where. That’s kind of the allure of Snapchat and Instagram’s stories in that you can half-ass post something knowing it will go away and it won’t clutter up your pages. Not only does this make you post something on your page, you have to do it SEVEN TIMES. For me, that’s like two months of content. It basically dilutes the quality of your personal page and feed.
Social media can be a good thing. Staying connected with friends and giving you moments of stimulation when commercials come on and you’ve sat on the remote and can’t find it. But don’t be a sheep and just go along with this latest fad. I don’t know what I’d do if someone challenged me (murder is too harsh, but drawing blanks here for an alternative response), but when your time comes you’re going to have to make a decision. Just remember you’ll be remembered for how you respond. Don’t stand on the wrong side of history on this one.
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