“You can not be in the world and play no part in it.” – Unknown
A lot of people try to disassociate themselves from social media, you know, the ones that act above it. In a generation of narcissists, we know any attempt to act above it always comes off as false. At best, your derision of how someone else uses social media can be summed up into you being at a different point in your life or simply the fact that we all just express our narcissism in different ways. You may not post selfies, but you update a status, or cosign something you enjoy with a like or a share. Even non-participation is to an extent a commentary on how you view the world and want to be perceived in it. A commentary on the culture. Most aptly put, “Don’t judge the sinner because they sin differently than you”.
To disparage social media interactions is almost a tell the world that your’re unaware or reluctant to acknowledge it’s place in this world. You can take that stance if you wish, but progress is undefeated and the one person who knows that in 2016 better than anyone else…is Mark Zuckerberg.
In the online drug game that is privacy in the social media age, Zuckerberg lives by the common kingpin parlance, “Get down or lay down”.
That has been message to the social media elite: If you’ve innovated or became so popular that you threatened Facebook their reaction has been to monopolize not compete. And in the corporate world it’s not swagger jacking it’s a business strategy.
And a smart one.
So when everyone updated their Instagram and saw that IG had taken Snapchat’s entire business model. Well we did what we always do, laughed, created memes and dm’d each other in groups about it. The update was probably responsible for a large drop in the days production, even if it seemed like IG was playing itself and people were just posting their Snapchat usernames, inevitably there was going to be a turn. Business was booming…at least seemingly, but the real reason they did this is because they knew they were vulnerable. Even if you’re on top, you have to be aware of your own vulnerabilities. That’s what Facebook was slow to adopt, but it has gotten much better at.
If you paid attention this was the clap-back we all saw coming. Snap had turned down Facebook’s $3 Billion cash offer($3 BILLION!), rolled out a “Memories” feature giving users the ability to post old content and began to infringe on Facebook’s hard news documenting corner.
This all happened after Facebook bought Instagram for peanuts, a mere $1 billion, but like any drug dealer or investment banker Zuckerberg wanted the whole block. He was obviously annoyed by Snapchat’s response of “nah fam.”
While on the upswing, Snapchat was almost tone-deaf in its approach to new users. It sported a graphical user interface that was intentionally opaque, keeping older users who were more accustomed to simplistic point and go interfaces we’ve become familiar with. Never before had the idea of Technological Intelligence been so pronounced at a mainstream level. Their key component and advantage over Facebook and Instagram was their privacy and anonymity constructions. It moved away from the totalitarian like and affirmation construct that changed how we interact and communicate with each other and warped what we thought was important. Messages disappear and any decision or moment you capture is gone within 24 hours. Really it was all just the illusion of privacy, because like every other app you were still being monitored, just in a different way. Snapchat invented privacy without the privacy, the mutual stalking environment Zuckerberg truly wanted when he initially built Facebook, complete transparency of the human experience and the elimination of secrets lives. It was perfect for Zuckerburg’s war on privacy. Then a strange thing happened…we rejected it. Much like Twitter encouraged their innovation, pushing them to new heights, and Whatsapp made their messenger app almost irrelevant (Before they also bought them for $22 Billion), Snapchat challenged what we assumed 21st century privacy was.
But what were these apps really. They were derivatives of what Facebook was. Status updates became Twitter, they saw the mobile movement coming, an area Facebook lagged behind and allowed them to carve out a niche.
Then Facebook photo albums were condensed and eventually became Instagram by some clever programmers who knew a few things – dudes cannot resist double tapping a pair of boobs or some ass. Again, it was driven by the 21st century newest organ…Your phone.
Facts are, IG has around 500 million active users while Snapchat’s at about 100 million. Compare this with Facebook’s almost 2 billion users and you get the idea. While Snap seemed pervasive, the question always was – had their interface and ability to target a younger demographic limited their user base?
The flip side of course was, the idea that Snapchat was building an ever more loyal fanbase that reported their lives and news differently. That made FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) a real time emotion for millennials as opposed to the “Oh shit, I should’ve gone to that event” emotion that Instagram is famous for engendering.
Zuckerberg always said the engaging thing about FB was that it was always changing so people constantly have to check it. You touch your phone 110 times a day and each time is a different advertising opportunity and another chance for you to give up more and more of your data.
Facebook went from window shopping to outright consuming their two biggest threats Instagram and WhatsApp . It was tactical, it was strategic, and when you’re trying to become E-corp it’s what you should be doing.
People will decry all these developments…On the internet mostly. On Facebook, the thing they said would destroy, or on Twitter where they said people said a whole lot of nothing, or on Instagram the place they criticized as a narcissists paradise, or on Snapchat the place they claimed dignity went to die. They’ll be on them though.
At every step there was decrying that the new technology was the end of civilization, or that it somehow was making us less than we were. That’s of course until the late adopters finally give in and bend the knee to progress. Progress is undefeated.
You cannot be in this world and not be a part of it. This is the new normal. Eventually, all these things will be throwbacks of a bygone era, of a time we’ll think was antiquated and wonder what all fuss and hand wringing was about. You’ll get used to InstaSnap, just like everything else. And Snapchat may go the way of Twitter, a hold out regulated to tier two of social media reserved for people set in their ways. In all of this though, you should never forget that every comment, every picture, every status update, every snap, those are not the product, the product for all of this for the entire future has and will always be You.