Between Authenticity and Approval: A Journey Towards True Freedom

Ricardo Guaderrama Caraveo
3 min readOct 29, 2023
Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

True freedom cannot be achieved if we are constantly chasing approval and being popular.

The fruits of approval and popularity are sweet, but they do not come without toil and work. It’s amazing how you can go to Instagram or TikTok and do some “research”, and find out what is currently popular. So that then you’re able to use that popular song, or the popular video clip in your video and have the algorithm show you to as many people as you can get.

“We must take the soul back and withdraw it into itself; that is the real solitude, which may be enjoyed in the midst of cities and the courts of kings;
but it is best enjoyed alone.” Montaigne

Yesterday, I was working at a cafe with my brother. The waiter approached us and asked if it was OK for a violinist to practice on the terrace we were in alone. Of course, we said yes, after teasing her that we hated violin. When the violinist began playing, I couldn’t help but think about reaching my phone and recording him, for some Instagram fame, of course.

My brother, watching this happening in real-time, mocked me, saying to me: “There you go, you Instagram bitch”.

His catchy insult was a splash of refreshing water upon my face. I really didn’t feel like recording him playing some Disney song. It was all just for the gram. And I get it, I run an adventure tour agency, and I have to upload content all the time, as we all do, to keep current.

What annoys me is the automatic behavior that I’ve developed without even being aware of it. Every time, unless consciously aware of it, that I am shooting something with my phone or with my camera, I think about how the video or picture is going to look on Instagram.

The best photos are personal. The subject, be it a tree, or a person, speaks to you, and you try to capture the essence of what that moment in time is telling you. It is a solitary experiment. And it can be contaminated by the incessant need for the crowd’s approval, through Instagram or TikTok.

This leaves me thinking, how much approval is enough? Is it not enough to have the enjoyment of the violin playing in the background? Cannot I live without the additional approval I would get from…