Mistaken Identity Of Social Media Apps

At the pinnacle of first world problem new stories, last week Instagram introduced its Stories feature and I don’t like it.

For those who don’t know, Stories allow users to share photos and videos with their followers which will disappear after 24 hours.  In other words, it’s Snapchat.

This isn’t really any coincidence.  Instagram’s owner, Facebook, has been trying to deal with Snapchat for a while with its Slingshot app as well as trying to buy Snapchat outright.  Each attempt has failed, so they’ve now added ephemeral messaging to a platform with twice the daily active user base of Snapchat.  It’s a great move.

The things about the main social networks is that they’ve each served a purpose and as one gains traction, another takes on the functionality to eradicate it.  Instagram did it by adding video and then Boomerang to kill of Twitter’s Vine.

Instagram’s main focus at its inception, though, was beautiful photography as evidenced by its filters.  If I jump on Instagram now (and I’m guilty of this) the photos aren’t what you would consider beautiful because the content is too spontaneous.  This where Stories makes sense – people can put their dinner in a story, decluttering the main feed for pictures of their pets or a beautiful sunset.

That’s why I kind of like it.  I’ve never “got” Snapchat because before they introduced stories I understood it to be used as a messaging app.  A friend used to send me Snaps and I didn’t know how to reply other than taking a photo of my floor and typing over it.  It’s one way communication.  That’s why I always left it for the teenagers to sext on.

What I don’t like is the fact it’s been forced on me.  There’s no way to get rid of it in the interface and it’s loaded overtime you open the app.  I also don’t like it because it’s copying – it’s unoriginal and that’s not cool.  It offers less than Snapchat in the way of filters.

But I think the thing I hate most about it is that social media apps are now just trying to be a Jack Of All Trades.  No longer is it fine just to be a master of one.

When Facebook launched, my status updates began with “Michael is” and I could put what I was doing or feeling.  I could share my holiday photos.  If I wanted to put something less thoughtful, I could put 140 characters on Twitter.  If I wanted to check in somewhere, I had Foursquare.  A decent photo went on Instagram.  Video went on YouTube.  Sharing was done on Pinterest.

As people have wanted to be more spontaneous and share even more, the likes of Snapchat found a purpose for vlogging.  I think that’s what the issue is.  Before social media there was this platform – blogging.  It required thought and preparation and effort.  Now it’s so easy, the bar for quality of content has dropped.

It’s dropped so low that original content is no longer necessary.  Facebook is a place for shares, Twitter is a place for retweets and Instagram is a place for memes.  Most importantly, they’ve become a place for advertising.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  The focus of social networks, perhaps other than Ello, is no longer on you and I as people, but on you and I as businesses or business opportunities.  They’re all looking to monetise and I think that all have become worse for it.  It’s caused them to be come bloated and lose identity.  What we care about has been moved, in favour of selling things.

This made me think who the real winner is, and I think it’s a social network outside of the main focus of this post – Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.  The winner is Twitter.  Twitter, for me, is the only network that hasn’t had to change to provide more functionality.  It’s very premise gave it the opportunity to be flexible.  Sure, it’s limited by 140 characters, but if you wanted to say something truly important, no social media platform is right for you.

As I said at the start, this is definitely a first world problem.  Social media apps are a privilege even though sharing should be a right.  I just find it interesting now that we seem to have reached peak network  meaning that innovation is limited to copying.  All networks are trying to be the same to avoid another growing, which is kind of ironic for apps designed to let people express who they are and show their own identity.  I wonder if that makes the apps more or less useful, and more or less enjoyable.

The girl in the chair with the long golden hair
Well that used to be me
A flirtatious smile unpredictably wild
Always trying to please
I was always walking one step ahead
Or so I thought until the monster crawled into my bed
Rewind and erase that shock look on your face
’cause your mona lisa is dead

A million words a thousand days

The girl I used to be
Has a terrible case of mistaken identity
And yesterday’s girl is not what you see
It’s a terrible case of mistaken identity

The sun likes to rise and the moon likes to fall
And that’s kinda like my life
I’ve played the role of the nice girl next door
Who gets cut like a knife
Now I’m not looking for apologie eyes
And I don’t want to spend a night on a bed of beautiful lies
Erase and rewind leave that sick girl behind and fast forward, fast forward

A thousand days

The girl I used to be
Has a terrible case of mistaken identity
And yesterday’s girl is not what you see
It’s a terrible case of mistaken identity

That’s not me, it’s just not me
That’s not me

The girl I used to be
Has a terrible case of mistaken identity
And yesterday’s girl is not what you see
It’s a terrible case of mistaken identity

Mistaken Identity by Delta Goodrem


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