There I was, laying in bed at 1:00am and still gazing at my phone. I often end the day flipping through articles or feeds under the glow of my screen, but this was different. I was anxiously awaiting the latest update to my favourite social media platform: Instagram. In a move to give us more ways to share, the company introduced Instagram Stories. Like Snapchat, Instagram users can now share micro-posts that expire in 24HRS. In fact, it’s so Snapchat-like that Instagram is getting its share of copycat criticism.
I will admit that I too was on the cusp of crying “cheap copycat” when I first read about the new feature. And rightfully so! I just started using SnapChat and I am beginning to enjoy it. I like having a place to share the little moments between all the other social clutter. Instagram is my place for higher quality visual expressions, whereas Snapchat-like stories can be imperfect. So these newly amalgamated features bring newfound confusion. Do I continue using Snapchat for the shorter everyday stories or do I now migrate to my Instagram? It is where my larger audience resides. Surely I’m not the only person with this not-so-real-world dilemma.
But like all late night misguided thoughts, these too subsided with a little sleep. I awoke rejuvenated and filled with positivity. I was able to reason that social media companies update their platform features all the time. I can’t deny them of innovation because of my own social media bewilderment! Heck, one could argue that they know what we want before we, well, know what we want! Pokemon Go for example! With that in mind, let’s take a journey through my random morning thoughts.
I enjoy relating things. I like to draw similarities to something historical or something I better understand. I find that it eases my acceptance of a given circumstance. I liken advancements in social media with those of consumable products. Our appetite for digital media is no different than that for the products we consume daily. We eat, we dress and we take care of ourselves. We began by getting meat from a butcher, produce from a farmer, and clothing from a tailor. As we got busier, our needs evolved and retailers became more innovative. They started giving us more choices under one roof.
Sound familiar yet? It should.
Digital media is nothing more than a consumable product. The platforms and applications that deliver the media are the retailers. Like the earliest retailers, these digital platforms also focused on single items. They began as specific applications for photo sharing, sending messages, or posting videos. But as history suggests, we do have an appetite for consumption and we will evolve to accommodate it. We can now buy peaches, bread and a t-shirt, all at the same grocery store. So it’s no surprise that we can also post a photo, send a direct message and now share a story – all on the same social media platform.