Social media is often criticised for reducing the quality of social interactions offline due to the increased dependence on online friends and validation, yet the initial purpose of these apps was to encourage socialisation and interaction. Ironically, because of the value we place on social media, it may be losing this function.
The ‘suggested to follow’ section of my Instagram page is usually filled with personal accounts of mutual friends; but recently, I have started to notice an increase in the number of people’s ‘business’ accounts being recommended (for example, a girl from my high school who has started jewellery making and an old friend from dance who does false lashes). With the popularity of social media, it is no wonder that people are using it to promote their brands and release professional content- but have we lost the meaning of what it means to be ‘social’ on social media?
The most obvious sign of social media veering into business is the rising prominence of influencers. Whether it be health, fitness, fashion or makeup, the purpose of an influencer’s account is to create and tailor professional content to reach a target audience. With every post being meticulously planned out, the authenticity that comes with posting on social media is lost. Not only this but seeing these individual’s supposedly ‘perfect’ posts can deter everyday users from sharing their own posts, which seem ‘messy’ in comparison. This defeats the object of social media, as people feel too self-conscious to share what is going on in their lives. The use of social media as a tool for advertising and gaining popularity for businesses can also make people feel more detached from those they are following or interacting with, and means they spend less time actually socialising on the apps and more time absorbing this artificial content.
So, in an age of carefully crafted images, how can we make social media more ‘social’ again Alongside the expanding number of business accounts, I have also noticed the popularity of ‘spam’ accounts. These are private accounts that a user only allows their close friends to follow. Reducing the number of people that can see your posts often takes away the pressure of them being ‘perfect’ so are often more social, with people feeling free to leave funny comments under their friend’s spam posts or repost other people’s stories on their spam accounts. Paradoxically then, the increasingly professional nature of social media, especially Instagram, can make it more private.
In conclusion, the increasing use of social media by influencers and/ or to promote businesses as meant that it has lost some of its ‘social’ value. However, the use of spam accounts, as well as other more exclusive aspects of social media such as ‘private’ stories and ‘close friends’ stories, mean that we can still maintain the social aspects of social media.
“Apple iPhone X on office desk with icons of social media facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat application on screen. Social network. Starting social media app. – Credit to https://www.lyncconf.com/” by nodstrum is licensed under CC BY 2.0.