I think that social media can be frustrating because it makes you realize just how MUCH art there is out there. It's easier to publish, so more people do, even people without a high skill level. It's also dizzying when you realize that there's so much to see that it's difficult to even choose what you like at times. We "consume" (to use what I think is a Will Terry word) art so quickly! And the Instagram algorithm can be frustrating, not only for artists, but also for viewers.
But, as a person who is just dipping my big toe into the water of illustration on social media, there are things I like about it. Mostly it comes down to the fact that I can put my work out there, but also that I can look at it next to the work of someone who is more advanced. That in itself is a sort of mini-critique, because it almost allows you to look at your work as though it were someone else's. And I know that a lot of my likes (not that I have so many) are coming from friends and family, not other artists.
But, for the last image I posted, I realized once I saw it online that I had spent a lot of time on the face at the expense of the whole figure. The details I had put in didn't even read that much from a distance. Well, that was something I needed to know! And yes, it was just a figure without much context, but I am aware of that and for now I am using characters as a building block to something else. It was useful to see my work within the context of other artists whom I admire.
I also think the SVS guys said in some video or another that even a beginner can find a legitimate niche by blogging or posting on social media as a journal of how they are learning and improving. I took that to heart. It takes humility to post work that isn't at a genius level or even a professional level yet, but I hope it helps someone in some way when offer whatever I have to offer, and hopefully I will also leave a trail of improvement.
So, to sum up, there's a whole lot of work out there, and it's a lot of work to wade through it and find the really genius stuff. And yes, there may be some people who care more about their image than their work. But social media also exposes us to a lot more work, which helps us to sharpen our own skills and gives us a more realistic idea of the possibilities than if we were just in our own rooms, listening to our relatives!
I also love all the artwork the participants have used in this thread, especially the Peter de Sève real estate piece. It's well drawn and I love the spark of color that is the view of the Hudson. And I have so been in that particular piranha tank, so the whole scene makes me laugh. It's perfect!