Social media resembles the trajectory of technological development in its shift, over recent years, to a high turnover, immediate broadcast style of interaction. Whereas Instagram once existed for, one could say, posterity, it is now more and more used as a platform for real time broadcasting where media is posted like clockwork. Whereas before, you may post a photo, one photo, of your amazing time in Hawaii, it is more common now to post experiences moment by moment. Which is something Chinese social media giant WeChat has literally incorporated into its equivalent of the ‘Newsfeed’, that is, its ‘moments’.
Generation Z and millennials will have the most experience with the daily highlight reel of ‘stories’ in which users can film their lives and have their followers watch within twenty four hours. It is interesting to parallel this to the development of broader technology, which gears toward a lifestyle of constant, whirring immediate stimulation. Consider the Apple Watch Series 3, with its announcement in 2017. Despite having predecessors boasting capability as a sim card insertable smart-watch – meaning you can check messages, reply to emails and even take phone calls on the go – it is the first mainstream brand to display the technology. And once Apple adopts technology as its own, you know it’s got potential.
And indeed, potential shone bright. With a record of estimated 18 million shipments in 2017, the Apple Watch Series 3 proves the demand for this technology. From this, we can deduct that the requirements for immediacy of general society has upped its level again. We are no longer satisfied with being able to access email from our smartphones, but we find it necessary to access it from our wrists.
The parallels drawn with real time social media is uncanny. Instagram, in its introduction in 2010, skyrocketed in popularity from the concept of a newsfeed of purely pictures. Instead of the congested scroll that Facebook’s newsfeed was turning into, users were absorbed by the clean, crisp look of curated pictures in which they could see through to the very reason for social media – consuming recent pictures posted by their friends, family and admired famous people. A haven for all sorts of gossip and conversation. No more clunky usage of Facebook photo albums, which from then on obtained a greater sense of permanency. But it wasn’t ‘hip’. Only the older generations would post photos as albums on Facebook. Younger generations would post albums too, but only for cherished memories. Facebook was for genuine posterity, Instagram and even more so, Snapchat, was for daily digestion.
Technology, by function, is for the expedition of menial processes. Whereas once we had to type in PIN passcodes to protect our phones from cunning identity fraudsters, we can shave off a few seconds with the facial recognition software that Microsoft tablets, Samsung phones and Apple phones (amongst other brands) now utilise. A few seconds multiplied by the number of times you check your phone per day, multiplied by 365, that does amount to a significant amount of time saved. And for what purpose?
So that we can achieve more with the time that is increased being filled with tasks, goals and ambitions we want to achieve. Why research deeply and time-consumingly to write a paper for university when you can hire services to create a sample one for you, with the value-added option where you can specify when you want it delivered to you by? Why bother writing Chinese characters manually into Google Translate when you can simply use your camera to translate it in real time? (Try it, the words literally change form from unintelligible to intelligible in from of your eyes).
When Snapchat first arrived on the scene, as an Android app in late 2012, it revolutionised the idea of social media. Instead of communicating via text, where communication of emotion can sometimes be skewed (don’t use a full stop, it may be grammatical but it certainly conveys a sometimes unintended overly serious mood), it opened up another dimension of messaging. Now, emotion can be seen, felt and heard. No need for clarifications of “Sorry, what did you say” or arduous generational misunderstandings of acronymic abbreviations. LOL. Messaging a picture with a short sentence caption has never before, been worth more words.
In 2018, social media has entered the domain of immediacy where the sharing of one’s present is only limited by the amount of mobile bandwidth his/her phone plan will allow. In South Korea, particularly Seoul, a city glowing with the excitement of rapid electronic development, mobile internet is not a limitation, it is simply unlimited. Increasingly, so-called “social media influencer” leverage on their particular set of talents to develop a daily rapport with their followers. They broadcast videos in real time, and whether they are rapping, doing gymnastics or eating exotic food, popular influencers will definitely gain a few views, or a few thousand views.
Whereas social media was created more as a method of interaction between people who knew each other, if you have downloaded Snapchat’s latest update, you will have noticed a whole new level of real time communication. Subtly placed in a box visible when you swipe down from the top edge of your screen, is map of the world, which depending on where you tap, may have ‘Snaps’ posted by local residents or tourists there. Just for example if you’re in England, you can see what your American friend is doing simply by tapping the area of California he is in.
With real time media expedited to the extent where facial interaction, even with strangers, can be facilitated at the touch of a button, one must wonder what the next development will be. Communication of smell? Communication of taste? Only time will tell.