ILLUMINATION
Published in

ILLUMINATION

The Death Of Social Media

Why we might be seeing the end of social media as we know it.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I know, that’s a pretty bold statement considering most research shows that as of 2020 over 3.6 BILLION people are using social media worldwide. But I think we are at the very early stages of seeing a big shift, and ultimately death, of big social media as we know it now.

The biggest players

Currently, social media seems to be dominated by the big three, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Naturally, there are a whole bunch of other options, TikTok, Reddit, and so many others, but for this article, I’m just going to use the “big three” as our example.

When they first made their splash, these social media giants were exactly as the name implies, a place to socialize with your friends and family. A great way to personally keep in touch with people you may not have otherwise.

Yeah, I’m looking at you, my fellow high school classmates. We all know most of us would have never kept in touch were it not for social media making it so easy.

By and large, it was pretty nice being able to scroll through a feed to see what everyone was up to.

But over time the “social” aspects of social media took a hard turn from friendly, personal connections and found themselves mired in nothing but advertising and influencers.

Suddenly the platforms were flooded with not only large companies that had figured out they could EASILY put their message directly in front of their ideal customer, but small businesses and solo start-ups also jumped in the fray.

Fast forward to today when it seems like everyone has a social media presence as part of their “strategy”.

The days of being able to use and enjoy social media as purely a personal connection to other like-minded individuals, family, and friends, are long long gone.

Virtually every single day I see posts from friends complaining about how Twitter has turned to garbage, we all need to use Instagram more. The next day it’s the complaints of Facebook and Instagram but Twitter is better. The question of “What will be the next big app to replace Twitter-gram-book?” pops up often.

People seem resigned to the idea that those three are now too huge and will never go away.

I don’t agree.

My prediction

As more and more of us get frustrated with the toxic, ad-fueled, influencer soup that IS most of social media these days we start to look for ways to get back to PERSONAL connections.

If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that we all have become very tired of social media(even though usage is at an all-time high… what else is there to do when everything is locked down though, right?). More specifically, we are all becoming sick at the idea of logging in to just get bombarded by paid ads, by our friends and family doing nothing but promote themselves constantly, and the culture of “needing to build followers”.

So a lot of people have begun to look for alternatives.

Alternatives that are more niche-focused on just the things they want to spend their time online enjoying.

I know I’ve found myself spending more time with apps like GoodReads and Letterboxd just because I love storytelling, books, and movies. With those apps, while they aren’t as robust and easy to just endlessly scroll, I am finding personal connection again with people sharing the same interests.

We can have discussions about just what we are there to discuss, our favorite books, movies, and stories. But we can avoid anyone promoting their home-based clothing company specializing in yoga pants for infants or their super health supplement that will cure everything.

And we can especially avoid seeing yet another promoted post for something that we’ve never even looked for yet our phone heard us mention something in passing conversation and now we are seeing ads for it nonstop.

Look, I get it. I have separate social media accounts just for trying to “build an audience” for my podcasts and as such, I promote my fair share of new episode releases and the like. And I hate myself for it.

But, here’s where I think social media as we know it now… dies a slow and well-earned death.

As more and more of us look to find places to enjoy ACTUAL personal/social connections with REAL people again, the silent exodus happens from “the big three”.

Most will keep their Facebook/Twitter/Instagram profiles open and active because we’ve all got something to promote still and we have to use social media as a huge part of our marketing strategy, right? (Insert HEAVY sarcasm here).

Advertising, corporations, businesses and promoted posts will continue to drown out regular people, however. When that happens big social media will find itself filled with nothing but businesses fighting for eyeballs that don’t exist.

It’s a perfect storm.

Like someone threw a thousand sharks into a pool, the sharks now thrashing and fighting for food so violently that they haven’t realized all the actual food has disappeared and they are all just feeding off each other.

Unlike the sharks though, companies and brands are always watching numbers, so they are smart enough to eventually notice that views are down. Maybe engagement has slowed to a crawl, and for those REALLY tracking things, they notice their only interactions are coming with other companies and their competitors.

That’s when the “Oh S**T” moment happens and the scramble to try to find their customers becomes priority number one. So they flood the “next big” social media platform.

Maybe TikTok sees a huge influx of brands, though it’s already been promoted that way by folks like Gary Vee. Maybe it’s the surprise new app that hasn’t been invented yet, Slip Slap Chatgram or some nonsense. Doesn’t matter what it is, if it gets big it will draw the influencers and brands like a fly to the manure pile.

These big social media platforms ARE probably here to stay. But I believe the days of ANY of them being truly social, truly personal connection focused, are dead.

They have become and will stay, nothing but another advertising outlet. Much like we saw with magazines, newspapers, and television. Selling ad space is priority number one and pretty soon you have more advertising in the magazine than actual stories or content.

And we haven’t even touched on all of the issues of privacy and security that people are getting increasingly wary of.

Throw that into the mix and now you see why I say social media as we know it is dead or dying.

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.

It’s sort of like what happened with cable television. People got sick of paying big money for a ton of channels filled with garbage they didn’t want, so they started cutting the cord and going to streaming options like Netflix.

Of course, that streaming market has become a madhouse also, but by and large, most people pay for only what they want and call it a day.

The same is happening for more and more of those 3.6 billion people using social media. They are seeking out and finding smaller communities to hang out in. Places like Discord continue to grow as people ditch traditional social media in favor of a chat-room-like atmosphere with people all sharing a common interest.

There is a silver lining for all of us.

It’s the best part.

When we start seeking those smaller communities, we also start finding that most people in this world are not the toxic cesspool we see as we doomscroll the big three. We begin to enjoy conversations with strangers about our shared love of favorite books, movies, recipes, or woodworking.

In the end, we find a way back to true personal connections for personal connection sake… and we desperately need more of that in the world today.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store