Stories: recapturing the culture of the ephemeral

Jose Luis Orihuela
Jan 23 · 2 min read
Photo: Harli Marten

Stories, first launched by Snapchat in October 2013, have been extended to all social platforms (Instagram Stories in August 2016, Whatsapp Status in February 2017 and Facebook Stories in March 2017).

Even Twitter Moments and Medium Series reveal a paradigm shift about how content is shared and consumed in social media.

Indelible navigable content in an infinite timeline is gone. New generations are increasingly aware of the impact of their digital footprint and prefer not to leave a trace, while privileging immediate updates to their closest circle.

In stories, there is a recovery of the culture of oral tradition and lack of a registry, which characterizes face-to-face meetings and voice telephone conversations.

The fleetingness of these experiences does not necessarily make them superficial, on the contrary, it allows us to recover part of the spontaneity that disappears in environments crystallized forever on one platform.

In a platform like Instagram, you can see the obvious contrast between the vital and aesthetic perfection that tries to be represented with each photograph and the fluidity, informality, and absence of pretensions that characterizes stories.

While photos freeze a perfect moment (previously rehearsed and edited later with filters), stories encapsulate a quick, unedited narrative fragment of life itself.

The user’s immediate context becomes the new content, and the phone’s camera replaces the keyboard as an adequate coding mechanism.

The ephemeral nature of these evanescent stories frees users from the form and substance limitations typical of content intended to be archived.

Stories are a disposable sketch, while photos, messages, and tweets are permanent records that end up building (or destroying) our biography.

Recovering the natural magic of ephemeral experiences can be a way to oxygenate social networks of the designed imposture of so many perfect moments that only seek the praise of strangers.


Jose Luis Orihuela

Written by

Profesor universitario, conferenciante y escritor. Professor, Speaker and Writer. Cultura digital. Digital culture. https://www.ecuaderno.com

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