The State of Social Media & The Desire to Belong
I’ve covered the technology space for nearly decade now. It all started with a broken PC & a desire to get back onto World of Warcraft. My 11 year old self would then become engulfed in a world that is ever changing & advancing. If I think about what my favorite part of covering such an expanding space it’d have to be seeing the social trends come & go. Seeing the would be networks fail, random networks become the new big thing, the big thing phase out as years rolled by.
Thus I wanted to focus on the state of social media. Where we’re at now & how we’ve come to this point & what the future holds. Not just in the network itself but the social aspect. It is called “social” media after all. When it comes to social media over the years be it apps, sites, etc. The same reoccurring factor holds true, as the late Steve Jobs said “Alot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Years ago people wouldn’t be telling you that they wanted an messaging system in which their media would disappear after someone viewed it, a platform in which they were limited to 140 characters, and so on.
These networks & trends come & go in different iterations. It’s more a matter of how long they last. Nowadays there’s a standard set of networks that really matter. By matter, I mean where the people you know are & what they’re using.
State of Social Networks:
Arguably one of the most popular networks out there. Famous for its ephemeral messaging system in which users can send messages, pictures, and videos that require the viewer to pay attention as you only have one chance to view the snap. Snapchat stories are basically a look at what your friends are doing. Simply put it’s a look at what your either missing out on or wanted to know about. A window if you will into someones day.
Theres no argument there is money & attention in this space. Evan Spiegel Snapchat’s CEO is the youngest billionaire to date due to Snapchat’s success.
With the millions of users it has almost everyone knows what Facebook is even if they don’t use it, they probably have one or have had to encounter it before on the internet. The thing you either love or hate but still can’t get rid of cause that one time you may need to reach out to such & such, keep up with family, see old friends, find that girl/guy from the party, the list goes on.
The 140-character micro blog that has also taken the social media space by storm. Evolving from a status update network to one that is at the center of many things going on in the world. Find tweets across news networks scrolling tickers, famous figures posting updates, and or a simple way to post something out to all your friends in a short format. Forcing a shorter form of expression. Keeping it short & simple.
A picture says a thousand words they say. Well Instagram is the place to be if your looking to express just that with the hope of receiving thousands of likes to validate just that. Simple & visual. Pictures & short form video. Tell creative stories, showcase that vacation spot, or take a selfie & post it.
Vine is famous for two things short form video & the looping of said video. Creativity in this network ranges across all its categories. However one of those primary spaces being comedy. Rather then the old days of sending people to links of funny videos that may have been minutes long you have these 15 second or less clips that people can consume easily, which can also lead to endless scrolling and the famous phrase “Have you that Vine?”.
That visual board of wedding plans, house ideas, and a variety of other boards. A smattering of people’s interest arrange in a virtual board. While all your friends may not use it, you more than likely have someone who does. Beyond that Pinterest is much bigger than you think catering to a wide range of demographics young to old.
Tumblr is the blog you always wanted to set up without really having to do any blogging. If anything Tumblr has setup its own separate definition for blogging. While it is a content creation platform your dashboard is typically filled with more content to consume. A blog for you to really reblog others content. Use it personally or professionally. Filled with its own sets of memes, huge community & fan base of celebrity Tumblrs (Taylor Swift) & many other things.
Now yes I’m well aware that “insert network here” isn’t on the list. There’s so many networks that do this & that I simply choose to focus on the popular networks as of this post.
I’ve seen the start & popularity of each of these networks listed above. From release to the next big thing. The thing is they’re all really still growing & surely will have more years to come. However looking at each they’re all a form of something that can between them. Cause if there’s one thing thats important when it comes to social networks & media it’s timing. A trend is a trend because its happens for a certain amount of time. These apps in question have have similar versions that existed before them. Myspace, Blogger, Flickr, etc. Technology, society, and so on was all in the right place as these networks took off. With the launch of things like the app-store and so on it would change the face of social media & networks.
The next big social network can never really be predicted. Some trends are great ideas & implementations the world just isn’t simply ready for them at certain points. It could take years, better technology, and many other variables to fix that. We as users don’t truly know what we want when it comes to these apps. We may have features we want added or annoyances taken out. In the end though we fall to that of which the masses do more importantly the people who matter in our lives. Leading me into the bigger picture of social media this day in age.
The desire to belong. To be apart of the many rather than the few. Word it however you want but its a reason why a majority of us use whatever networks we do. Cause if it wasn’t for friends, family, and other people across the world with similar interests why would we use “insert app name’.
The Desire to Belong:
Looking around me lately I realize more & more that the world truly does fall on this sort of social pressure. Be it high school or the virtual world we all want in a way to belong to a certain circle. Especially those in my generation & primarily the younger demographic. I remember hearing in an interview with the actress Alice Eve on Conan of all things saying
As a kid it’s much easier to sort of be apart of the group than it is to stand outside it. I think that changes as you get older.
I couldn’t think of a better metaphor for social media in general. A constant need to fit in, for approval, recognition. We’re all guilty of it, myself included. Hell in some parts I’ve made a career out of it. We don’t share nowadays to simply just share, rather for a sense of recognition of what we’re doing. Shared expression itself is asking for form of judgement. Otherwise we’d keep those photos in our camera roll, the opinions to ourself, and that funny moment in our memories rather than our Snapchat Story.
Everybody at one point or another wants to fit in, in their life. Be apart of something & as apart of that they make the necessary sacrifices. The same goes for real social groups than it does digital ones. We use things we don’t like or enjoy, accept terms & conditions that are in some parts ridiculous, in other instances give up our right to privacy. We share these moments in life that’d otherwise be a story we tell someone in digital form. Now I’m not here to argue whether or not thats good nor bad. I’m apart of it. I’m self aware of this issue & contribute to it at the same time.
There are exceptions to this. Those who shy away from networks & what have you. But the majority surely 4 in every 5 friends you ask have an app listed above installed. Why? In parts to share their lives, contribute useful things into the world, tell their stories. In other parts to cater to crowd, see what they’re missing out on, to be apart of something even if they’re not physically present. Years ago the age old question would be “Could you or how long would you be able to last without a computer” or even “The capability to make calls on your phone”. Now the question should be If & how long people could go without their social media apps. A scary, interesting, and reflective thought.
Don’t be mistaken social networking in itself isn’t bad. These apps, developers, or hardware responsible for them aren’t to blame. They all can be used for great things, forming great & healthy relationships, and for amazing causes. However like any good thing they can be abused & or lead us to ask why we use them in the first place?
Is it for us, or is it for others?
Below you can find some other great resources & material on the same subjects by people much more smarter & articulate than I.