End the Selfie: Entrepreneur Seeking Quality Social Content

End the Selfie: Entrepreneur Seeking Quality Social Content
By Paul Hawkinson

Recently, a government psychiatrist in Thailand claimed that Thais who post pictures of themselves on social media and don’t receive enough positive feedback are encountering emotional problems. He argued that this could threaten the mental health of many citizens in the Southeast Asian nation. As strange as this may sound, Thailand isn’t alone in the so-called “selfie conflict.” In the United States, the word “selfie” was the Oxford English Dictionary word of the year in 2013, and social media users have taken the concept to new extremes, like taking selfies with homeless people or participating in “Selfie Olympics.”  What happened to sharing meaningful photos?


Over time, the value placed on meaningful images has been lost. Sure, capturing the simple, everyday moments in our lives can be important at times, but a barrage of fleeting moments hidden behind filters posted only to receive a “like” defeats the purpose of social media in my opinion. I believe social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter should be used for capturing life’s important moments. But instead, this constant need for validation has turned social media into a network of self-absorbed, attention-seeking users.

As an avid social media user and big fan of what social networks like Facebook and Instagram have to offer, I cringe while watching my teenage daughter take endless selfies and post them to these sites. I believe that social media has the potential to be very powerful; we can use it to document important moments in our lives, memories we want to share with future generations and places we’ve visited.

When I decided to leave Wall Street after nearly two decades to pursue other projects, the first place I looked to make a difference was social media. As pivotal as it has been in connecting our world, I saw room for change. In early 2013, I began my quest to put an end to the never-ending stream of selfies.

The ‘Where’ Not ‘Who’
In November of 2013 I launched LandID, a social media platform dedicated to the ‘where’ instead of the ‘who’ of a photo. LandID simply encourages users to: find meaningful places, mark themselves “in place” by taking a picture of their feet and the view, and tell the story of the place and its meaning (in as many characters as needed). The app locks in the time, date and all geo-coordinates so that others can retrace and remember steps and stories of people they care about. LandID is an invitation to share more “stories” and fewer “selfies”, more real pictures with fewer filters and shift more focus to content that holds deeper meaning in our lives.

Travelers can use LandID to capture the views of their travels and mark the coordinates where they stood. Parents can use the app to remember all of their children’s first moments: where they stood when their child took his first step or when they dropped him off for his first day of school. Special moments should not be taken for granted or get lost in a feed.

LandID is truly an app dedicated to getting back to the basics of capturing moments in life that are special. Captions tend to be short and anything longer than three sentences is considered “TMI.” With LandID, we want the user to tell their story. Why is this place special? How did you get there? Does it have a specific meaning? These are the questions that should be answered and shared with friends and loved ones.

The Future of Storytelling
The future of how humans tell stories is rapidly changing, and social media has clearly proven its power to connect people across the world. The ability to share stories and images once took months and years, and now takes only seconds. With this much power in the palm of our hands each day, it’s time we rethink the value we place on each interaction. I envision a future of users that are willing to place extra thought on not only how, but what they choose to share.

Paul Hawkinson is the founder and CEO of the photo-sharing platform LandID. A former invest banker, Paul launched LandID in November of 2013 has since offered a platform for social media users worldwide to document important locations.