‘Stories’ and Social Amnesia – Neither in the moment nor after

If you’d been following OutFocus regularly you’ve noticed that we didn’t publish stories since December 31st. You thought maybe we’d forgotten. We did not. We’ve been busy. As some may know, we had a new update to the website talked about in this blog post. We’re also working on something we’ll announce some time next month. Now on to forgetting and amnesia.

Before you move on to skip this post, this is not about more whining about all social media. I’ve been in social media for a long long time. Facebook for 7 years and Orkut before that. Yet it was always about making and sharing memories for me. I like to look back at my best and worst moments. Some might say social media (and technology in general) is ruining our lives but I’d say that’s the same as photographs do. They don’t take away our memories, they’re a way to extend them, to keep them safe.

I’m not going in to how going overboard with it will prove detrimental, but the rising trend that worries me is that not only are people no longer being in the moment (taking selfies for Instagram) but that social media itself has become amnesic. It started with the brilliant idea of Snapchat. You could say it’s useful for young teen girls who want to share photos but have it deleted, but if you can’t take responsibility why share in the first place?

Snapchat has begun a revolution in social media like PPAP in the YouTube music industry. It’s going out in ripples so fast that I wish and pray Snapchat sues these companies – not for the good of Snapchat, but to save all the other social media. First I noticed this in hike, India’s own messaging and social media app. The familiar, easy UI gave way to some fancy stuff and had a new feature – stories. Stories would last only 3 seconds and move on to the next. They can be seen again within 24 hours of posting. My first reaction was – what the actual heck is this! And yet few days later, I saw Instagram introduce their own ‘stories’.

I couldn’t understand this at all. Instagram, which had been trying to become Facebook for a long time with likes, comments and private messages, now suddenly wanted to be Snapchat – the new cool kid in town. A lot of my friends have jumped on this wagon of temporary, of responsibility-free-posting. I can’t remember the number of times someone wanted to show me a photo and they don’t have it on their device so they dive into insta to find it. With Instagram stories, be sure to forget what you posted so you don’t have to recollect it later. And guess what I saw yesterday morning on my newly updated WhatsApp?

Now we only need dog filters and WhatsApp is the new Snapchat. Apart from the user being responsibility-free, the social media itself becomes responsibility-free in these cases. Since stories last for seconds and rarely are viewed again, companies like Snapchat and Facebook will have to worry less about inappropriate content and spam.

This is a shocking revelation. Social media is getting amnesic. This time though, we will neither be in the moment nor be able to relive it in photographs. This of course is plays well with major companies like Snapchat, because they don’t have to store all your duck faces and smug faces anymore. They don’t need to build immense servers to store all your happy, sad and outright stupid memories. This is an age of social amnesia, and given the amount of support it garners, I don’t think it’s going away any soon.


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