Dear Mark Zuckerberg,
You know the phrase, “It’s not you. It's me?” Sorry, but it is you and not me. Or your idea of Metaverse where every app literally looks the same except for the design.
FB has become a fake news factory. IG mostly has inauthentic memes borrowed from Twitter with watermarks intact and reels courtesy of TikTok. I recently joined Snapchat, and nothing is snappy about it except the stickers. Now, please do not clone the features of BeReal.
At its premise, BeReal appears to deviate from the conventional model of the other community-based apps. At any time of the day, the App will send a notification on your phone and you have to post your photo with a two-minute window. Of course, you can always post late and re-take your pictures but the app will notify your friends. The best or the worst part is that you can only see someone else’s photo after you’ve posted yours. There is hardly any room for filters, facetune or planning. In other words, it is trying to sell itself as an antithesis of how Big Tech has come to define social media today.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not an anti-social media advocate waxing nostalgic over BBM pins. Or suggesting we time travel to when we dispatched news through Telegram (How ironical we have Telegram for an App now?). And neither is this intended to be a script for the next episode of techroastshow.
On the contrary, regardless of the merits of its genesis, FB has a strong community presence. I am part of various residence and neighbourhood groups. I believe they can serve as an excellent source for staying updated with relevant news stories in our local area, trolling for case studies and following ledes. In the last few years, it has also emerged as a lucrative marketplace where entrepreneurs have found their niche communities. IG has also proven to be a productive callout platform, and the pandemic has demonstrated as much.
So then, why am I saying it is you and not me? Mic drop: Product Life Cycle Management.
Bear with me. This next line is for people completely unaware of this marketing jargon. Any product or service traverses through four stages – Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Decline.
Remember the #BringBackTheOldInstagram trend on Twitter that doused almost as soon as it took off? Most of us who grew up with lark filters on Instagram loved it for the simple art of posting photographs. Not for the likes, followers or revenue driven from building an influencer machinery. It wasn’t about #aesthetics or showing off a “cool lifestyle” or echoing your stance on the latest culture war. It was the simple pleasure of uploading photographs. Gradually, it grew to the demands of digital news.
The pressure to maintain a social media presence and churn out content makes us re-cycle. We give in to social media fatigue and post quick Canva cards featuring the same quotes from the same Oscar-winning speech across every platform.
It started thriving on reduced retention spans and creators who would fight for every second of your attention. Lately, it has matured to become an echo chamber for brands jumping on the hashtag capitalisation bandwagon. Factions of the media is also culprit to encash on these editorial days to stay relevant. The other day, I joked about journalists and media persons having “commitment issues”. We report on Syria for two weeks and we de-rank the story once Google analytics alerts us about a drop in the viewership/readership. But we are also fiercely loyal to the causes close to our heart and will put our heads above the parapet for them throughout. It does not mean we must not report on breaking news. Or that all platforms follow a similar logic. Neither are we unaware of the business model behind the creator economy.
But this pressure to maintain a social media presence and churn out content makes us re-cycle. There are days when we have nothing to post or would rather not want to post. You don’t incentivise us for our absence. Quite the opposite. Wary of the backlash, we give in to social media fatigue and quite literally post quick Canva cards featuring quotes from the same Oscar-winning speech across every platform. 240-character tweets are re-cycled, re-furbished and reduced to 60-character “notes”. Editors are challenged with diminishing videos to teaser reels. It reminds me of my professor who advised, “The art is in writing short and simple sentences.” But often enough the context is missing in the cabal of social media.
I am not a revolutionary against growth or maturity. But it is disheartening to see you punish the very core identity of all these Apps. It is as if you’re saying to your child that only their adult and new version is acceptable.
Let's BeReal, FB and IG. You Are Burnt Out. And We Are In A Social Media Fatigue.
So, what would my ideal app look like? I am not sure. But for starters it would be a space which merits quality over quantity. One that doesn't thrive on the back of content overload and over-consumption. A place which values presence even in the face of absence.
Be right back after scrolling through a dozen reels on techroastshow about how to write a better opinion piece on Metaverse.