Business Insider recently published an article entitled ‘Social media is dead’, saying that ‘group chats and messaging apps killed it’. The article, written by Insider’s Sydney Bradley and Amanda Perelli, explores how some social media users have begun to feel disconnected from platforms that they once loved.
Taking Instagram as an example:
No app better defines the changing nature of social media than Instagram. The app started as a digital scrapbook — a place to keep up with real-world connections, close friends, and family. While other networks had more users (Facebook) or generated more news (Twitter), Instagram seemed to define the ideal form of this era of social media. Instagram became a verb, an aesthetic, and a generational signifier.
Now, however, the pressure to maintain a well-curated feed, whilst avoiding cringey or ‘cheugy’ captions, has made some users feel overwhelmed.
What was once an enjoyable pastime became a minefield of considerations: What should I say in the caption? Are emojis still cool? Is it better to just stay mysterious and let the images speak for themselves? This running list of questions made the posting process overwhelming, robbing Instagram of its early magic.
While not true for all users, it’s clear that some are posting less original content online, instead consuming content by well known creators, and moving their conversations to group chats and DMs. This may be, in part, because people want to avoid sponsored content, ads, and branded content.
People can still go on Instagram to check on their favorite celebrities and influencers, but young people don’t want brands and marketers infiltrating the closed communities where they spend most of their time.
Social media occupies an even stranger space for influencers and content creators who make their money through social media. For this growing group, engaging increasingly over-fed content consumers will likely take priority over using social media for socialising with friends and family.
In an era where a lot of frequent social-media users are sick of being “perceived” and having hundreds, or even thousands, of eyes on them, many are retreating to the days of tighter connections and communities.
“I’m honestly just tired of social media,” said 23-year-old Walid Mohammed, who works in the creator economy. “I’m tired of consuming content all the time.”
It may be that this shift away from public posting is just a part of the social media life cycle, in the same way that teens ditched Tumblr in favour of Pinterest, or how Reddit-users recently found themselves migrating to Tumblr.
Whatever the future of social media holds, it’s clear that a ‘new era of “authentic” online sharing is emerging’, where genuine content is more well received than polished offerings.
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