To be absolutely honest, Instagram’s, and later Facebook’s, Stories format doesn’t interest me at all. If I was perhaps a teenager, I may be more thrilled about time-bound content that disappears after a short duration and I’d muster enough FOMO to keep track of a lot of people’s vanishing stories.
But I’m the kind of person who watches a movie on an OTT platform like Netflix, Prime Video or Hotstar over a period of 5-6 days, in smaller installments, per day. I never binge-watch because I know then the content is taking over my life and not the other way around. I do all this only because I know the content won’t run away anywhere.
That’s the hallmark of on-demand content since we have moved thankfully away from appointment-content like normal TV that forced you to fix your life around the content’s timing. Internet was the treasure-trove of on-demand content and OTTs only proliferated it further.
So, to go back to appointment-content in the form of Stories seems like a forced hack into that earlier behavior. It is a forced way to keep you hooked to content, and I do understand this from the perspective of the social media platforms – their only business is to keep you hooked.
Now, both LinkedIn and Twitter are trying to enter this Stories business.
LinkedIn’s Pete Davies recently blogged that they are testing Stories on the platform. (They had already launched a similar product called Student Voices with the same functionality). Why? Is there a scope for Stories in a professional sense?
Pete’s logic: “I’d hope that most of my interactions in the break room or passing people in the hall are similarly ephemeral and light. The same holds true for cubicle and coffee shop banter around the world: sometimes we want a way to just make a connection, have a laugh with our colleagues and move on.”
Twitter, meanwhile, has launched temporary tweets in Brazil, called Fleets. Though the name has come under some outrage for other reasons (it is the name of an enema brand), I think the allusion to ‘fleeting’ is quite apt, concept-wise.
According to the Brazilian Twitter blog (translated in English), “Fleets are for you to share your ideas and momentary opinions. These posts disappear after 24 hours and have no Retweets, likes or public comments”.
We are seeking more and more accountability from people who say things online in the confidence that it cannot be traced back to their real life.
We are also seeking more and more accountability from the social media platforms that continue to argue that they are mere intermediaries and people misusing their platforms are not their responsibility.
But the result is the same – people massively misuse social media platforms and there is a real impact in our real lives as a result of that.
In this scenario, 2 more platforms offering a way to say things for just 24 hours (screenshots live, of course, but that’s a far more cumbersome way to hold someone accountable for their words) seems like adding gasoline to an existing fire.
On Twitter, in particular, this seems like a terrible idea, considering how bad the platform has been abused for both hate-speech and misinformation.
On LinkedIn, Stories seem benign, considering the ways the platform has largely been used so far. More than seeming like an issue, this need by LinkedIn to try this format seems like a more blatant attempt to hook users even more. That is not a crime, of course, but as with the emoticon-based Likes (called LinkedIn Reactions), this is taking the platform closer to more frivolous use-cases than directionally towards more professional ones.
I do understand the logic: “C’mon, don’t we have fun in an office?”. Sure, we do. We do office gossip too, that fans a lot of intra/inter-office politics, much to the detriment of the work culture. Now we even have a digital tool to propagate low-level office gossip on a global level, with limited (just 24 hours) fear of retribution.