It seems silly to write about this today, when there is a cruel war in Syria and a presumed terrorist attack in Germany and countless other disturbing things happening in the world, so I will preface this post accordingly. This is a blog post about an issue that is, in the grand scheme of the world, laughably unimportant and insignificant.
I have chosen to write about it anyways. I may seem angry in this post; I am, in the same way you are “angry” when the Starbucks barista spells your name wrong on your cup. I am not angry in the same way I was when I wrote about the crisis in Aleppo, or the mass shootings in America, or the attack against Syrian refugees last January. I wanted to begin this post by giving that perspective, because it matters. What matters marginally less than those things is the features of social media: but that’s what I’m writing about today.
So here’s the thing. The main players in social media are like popular celebrities. They try to co-exist on the red carpet, to be friends; but when it comes down to it, they’re in a competition. They will not hesitate to stoop to lying, cheating, or stealing in order to win. Especially stealing. Consider, if you will, the social media apps that I have on my phone right now. There’s Facebook (and Facebook Messenger), Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. Sorry Pinterest — I do love you and your DIY inspiration, but today’s not your day.
Now, those social media apps all have a different core premise and unique features which make them stand out. Except lately, those unique features have blurred together. For example, at the beginning of the year, Twitter made headlines for proposing to change their 140-character tweet limit to 10,000 characters.
Although this wouldn’t directly copy any other social media, it would make Twitter more comparable to Facebook, which has a character count of over 60,000. This move may have simply been an attempt to stay afloat in the uncertain waters of social media, as I suggested at the time, but it was still a change to a unique feature of the site. And, after this, the changes to popular apps just keep rolling.
Twitter also created a ‘Moments’ feature, a curation of tweets on a particular topic, and, in September, began allowing any user to create a Moment. As well, a few months ago, Instagram introduced “Stories”, which are, as The Verge puts it, “a near-perfect copy of Snapchat stories.” Within the last couple days, a Snapchat update brought a group chat option which Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Twitter already have.
I have opinions on all of these changes — some positive, some negative. But my strongest opinion is on what is perhaps the most miniature update, in physical size at least. It’s that tiny little heart on the side of a comment on Instagram. And I hate it with a passion.
No, I will not “like” your Instagram comment. If I wanted to like your comment, I’d go on Facebook. Or even Twitter, where it’s called “favourite” but is really a “like”. Instagram is supposed to be the place where you simply reply to comments. I want to have a #throwbackthursday to those days, the ones where you didn’t have to worry about three people “liking” someone’s comment on your picture before you even see it.
What’s next for Instagram? You double tap on a picture and instead of automatically “liking” it, you have a range of emotions to choose from, like Facebook? Should I react to my best friend’s selfie with a shocked face, or a happy one? I hope I never have to make that choice.
To me, Instagram’s “like comment” feature just shows that all of these social media companies are slowly amalgamating each other’s unique features. The next thing you know, we’re going to be staring at five identical apps on our phone screen, wondering when they all became the exact same (spoiler alert: it will happen sooner than you think, unless Facebook buys out all of their competition).
What do you think about all of these new social media features? Leave a comment and let me know. This is WordPress, and here I will like your comment; and probably reply, too. If you happen to follow me on Instagram, however, I refuse to “like” your comment. Sorry, not sorry.