Forcing people to be active daily with Stories

By | 28/08/2019

Facebook and Instagram both have “Stories”. Stories are temporary vertical pictures and video that are only available for a limited amount of time before they are backed up and saved for retrieval once you request your data.

In theory, they are a fantastic way of sharing life as it happens without worrying about something embarrassing being available for an extended period of time. In practise, they are a way for Facebook and Instagram to force users to be active every day if they do not want to miss out on what their friends are sharing.

I never use Stories because I’m over 30 so I’m less of an early adopter than I used to be. ;-). On a more serious note, I don’t use Stories because it encourages people to produce kitsch rather than the content of value. It also forces you to look at an image or video just once for a few seconds. The only way to pause this content is to touch the screen to see content long enough.

Content, in Stories, is so fleeting that if you blink you’ll miss it. It’s also a way for FB to force you to be attentive. With ordinary FB timelines you can stay on content until you scroll past it. This means that you can have a conversation or do something else at the same time. It also means that it’s easier to skip adverts. With Stories they know that you have seen the advert.

Some content and images shared via Stories are worth more than 3-5 seconds. They’re worth an interaction. In Stories the only interaction is a direct message. In Stories the only way to save content you like is to either screen record or screengrab.

Another drawback is that we’ve gone from having one timeline with friend activities to two. We now have to spend time scrolling down one stream, and when that’s done we theoretically have to scroll across.

People who use Stories, rather than the primary timeline become invisible. Their content is so well hidden that I miss it. Their content is so well hidden that they might as well start a blog.

When I finished writing I couldn’t think of a conclusion. The conclusion is that ordinary people social media is a lonely and invisible place. We write thoughts, share pictures and then within seconds they’re far down in a timeline never to be seen. In light of this making them fleeting, as they are in Stories only makes our content that much easier to ignore. By writing a blog post it may go unseen for years, but it’s there, and if someone decides to read every post, as I have sometimes done, then a blog is a good time capsule, a good way of keeping people entertained. Blogs, after all, do get published as books, sometimes.

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