Instagram is currently in its flop era
With a pivot to video and ‘casual’ photo dumps taking over our feeds, has Instagram lost its cool factor?
I was a freshman in college when Facebook died. It didn’t actually die, but rather, it stopped being a social media platform that young people actually used, which is to say it lost all relevancy. In 2017, I primarily opened Facebook for three things: coordinating with campus organizations in Facebook groups, looking at my college meme page, and posting photo albums at the end of each semester.
During the week before finals, in a tried and true procrastination technique, all my friends would go through their photos from the semester and carefully pick out all the photos that best conveyed “I am having fun in college.” Then they would upload them into a Facebook album that was typically titled with a silly, unfunny joke that reflected which year in college they were in, like “Senior Citizen” or “Sophomore Slump.”
“ A Facebook album was your b-roll of the semester.
At the time, posting a Facebook album was a little self-involved and cringey. You expect someone to go through 50 photos from your sorority’s date party? C’mon. But most people still did it. It was a way to document all of the mundane moments that weren’t Instagram-worthy. A Facebook album was your b-roll of the semester.
Today, photo dumps on Instagram have replaced the Facebook album. I’m no longer in college, and I never open Facebook anymore, but I’ve watched my former classmates post countless semester-in-review photo dumps that feel oddly reminiscent of my Facebook album days. I’m not the only one who’s noticed.
To be clear, I find posting on Instagram mortifying. I still do it, but I’m embarrassed when I post. I even feel embarrassed when I look at other people’s posts. It’s the way I felt about Facebook albums. I’ve gone through stretches where I deactivate my account or don’t post, but ultimately, if other people are getting attention for posting flattering pictures of themselves then I want that, too. And once you start posting and racking up likes, it’s kind of addictive.
At some point, however, I noticed a change. Instagram is slowly dying. A 2021 survey from financial services firm Piper Sandler found that only 22 percent of teenagers said Instagram was their favorite social media platform, coming in third after Snapchat and TikTok. Back in 2015, the same survey showed Instagram as the preferred social media app among teens, with 33 percent of participants claiming it as their favorite. In that time, the platform has undergone significant changes.
In 2016, the platform introduced in-feed shopping and switched from a chronological feed to an algorithm. In 2017, the app introduced recommended posts. And in the years since, Instagram has become more about e-commerce and less about sharing photos with your friends. Today, our feeds are inundated with sponsored content and recommended posts — and a photo disappears as soon as you like it, making it hard to see what your friends are posting. The updates to Instagram are so unpopular that Instagram announced it is working on bringing back the option to have a chronological feed.
Additionally, Instagram launched Reels, a worse version of TikTok, in August 2020, and they’re planning to “double down” on the video product in 2022. Instagram wants to do everything — become a destination where users create and watch short-form video content; shop for things they don’t really need but definitely want; and share snippets of their lives in Stories — but it’s losing sight of why young users liked it in the first place: It’s a destination to curate your own aesthetic and, therefore, your identity. The influx of photo dumps and the desperate attempts by Instagram to stay cool are the writing on the wall that the platform is on its way out as a social media platform for young people.
Instead, it’s on the same downward trajectory as Facebook, now both owned by Meta.
“ Casual Instagram is all about a studied carelessness. These photos make beauty seem accidental.
Not only has the app itself changed, but the way young people post on Instagram has shifted since the start of the pandemic. There used to be perfect grids full of photos with subtle VSCO filters. This made Instagram an obvious highlight reel of your life. The new Instagram norms don’t make that so clear.
In 2020, the idea of posting casually on Instagram took hold. Casual Instagram is all about a studied carelessness. These photos make beauty seem accidental. They’re slices of life. It might involve posting a blurry photo that says, “I am having too much fun to stop and take a photo.”
At first, TikTokkers were encouraging their followers to post casually. The idea was well-intended. On the surface, it urges people to be more real on Instagram and to post photos from their daily life, but like anything on social media, it’s still a performance. In the past couple of weeks, TikTok users have started voicing their concerns about the trend. In one video, @cozyakili explains how posting casually on Instagram is more curated than people think. He likens casual Instagram to reality television because they are both hyperreal performances. Posting casual photo dumps on Instagram makes your life an aesthetic even more than before.
These conversations around posting casually recognize the discomfort and irony surrounding this way of posting. We understand that the trend isn’t casual, and that Instagram hasn’t been casual since it came out in 2010 — when everyone just posted random objects with heavy filters and twee captions. In fact, nothing about Instagram is casual.
If we can see that Instagram is entering its Facebook by acknowledging the unpleasantness of posting casually, then at what point do we just stop opening the app altogether?
What about YouTube? is YouTube Dead as well?
If I published this article as a video on YouTube it would have been demonetized. The title alone would be enough to set off YouTube’s algorithm that scours videos for anything too “controversial.”
I’m not even trying to be controversial. I’m stating a fact. YouTube is dying. And it could very well become the next Myspace by 2030.
I know what you’re thinking, “Myspace? No fucking way YouTube could become the next Myspace?!”
But hear me out. The parameters for YouTube’s failure are exactly how they were for Myspace. Here’s why.
YouTube isn’t Attracting a Younger Audience. But this App is.
According to a recent report from Promo Research, YouTube isn’t the most popular social media platform among teenagers in the U.S.
That title belongs to TikTok.
TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform in the world. In just three years the Chinese social media app has amassed over 1 billion active users; and in the first quarter of 2020, TikTok generated the highest download for any app ever in a single quarter.
Unlike YouTube, TikTok’s audience is large and it’s growing at an unprecedented rate. But that’s not the only way TikTok is taking over where YouTube failed.
YouTube recently had to create a “Shorts” feature with 60-second videos in an attempt to mimic TikTok’s short-form videos. This led TikTok to float around that they will be releasing long-form videos of up to 10-minutes for their creators.
This is the two platforms officially declaring war on each other — but one has an aging audience while the other has captured younger generations.
YouTube is Dead, Artistically and Creatively
YouTube is tantamount to MySpace in more ways than one.
Before Myspace fell it had become entirely corporatized. The website featured ads and content from celebrities and Fortune 500 companies instead of the independent artists that made it what it was.
This made it possible for Facebook to knock MySpace off its pedestal as it featured fewer ads and a much cleaner user interface.
The same thing is happening to YouTube. The platform is a corporate wasteland filled with ads, clickbait, product placements, and it favors content from celebrities over independent users.
“Back in its golden age the prevailing culture on YouTube was one of creativity, excitement, and virality; anyone could make it big on the platform with just one viral video. This isn’t the case nowadays. YouTube’s demonization of new creators played right into TikTok’s hands.”
— Moon, independent journalist.
In 2022 it’s easier to become a content creator on TikTok than it is on YouTube. YouTube has begun to hate its grassroots underground celebs. They’d rather give money to people that are privately vetted by them.
YouTube caters to the established artist, musician, or celebrity. If you’re not one of those then it’ll be harder for you to get monetized and make it a career.
The War Over Music Videos
The top 10 most-watched videos on YouTube are all music videos.
(And you can believe that Gangnam Style isn’t even one of them?)
This means he who controls the music videos controls the number one video platform.
TikTok is already blazing the trail for exclusive songs that were popularized through their platform. If they start eating away at the music video market it will be a huge blow to YouTube.
It’s just more ground that TikTok could take from YouTube.
Lil Nas X released a video where he gives Satan a lapdance, licks his nipples, snaps his neck, and puts on his crown of pure evil.
That video was not demonetized.
Meanwhile, long-form podcasts featuring Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, or Joe Rogan in which they have civil discourse about COVID-19 or the future of Western civilization are demonetized.
Now, what about the music video for WAP (Wet Ass Pussy) starring Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. It features the two making out while snakes slither down their exposed cleavage. Certainly, it was demonetized?
It was not.
But videos by YouTubers such as Blaire White, who is a transgender woman that has conservative political views, have been demonetized and removed.
Clearly, YouTube is biased against certain creators and topics. And this isn’t to say TikTok doesn’t have its own biases, such as criticizing the Chinese Communist Party. But this is only part of the problem. The other is that YouTube clearly favors corporate interests and establishment over independent creators.
At this point, we need anti-trust laws to help break up Facebook, Google, and YouTube. They are almost utilities now, and having them in the hands of a few people is not a good idea.
If the government was smart they would crack them up like the old oil and telephone monopolies. There needs to be competition, especially because these platforms are clearly being used as political tools.
What would happen if Mark Zuckerburg wanted to run for president or Susan Wojcicki the CEO of YouTube — do you think they wouldn’t use your data for their presidential run? It’s time to break up the giants and scatter their bones.
YouTube Brings Out the Worst in Us
The good thing about creating content on Medium is I don’t have to ask you to “LIKE and SMASH the SUBSCRIBE button, and CLICK THE BELL ICON too so I don’t have to starve.”
I also don’t have to put a picture of my face in the thumbnail with my mouth wide open, and a bunch of “OMGs OMGs OMGs” or red circles and arrows pointing to random shit.
YouTube is cringe. It’s shameless and cringe.
It’s why Joe Rogan left. It’s why content creators rely on Patreon for money. And it’s why people are fleeing to TikTok.
Let me close by saying: I don’t like TikTok. I don’t have the app downloaded and I certainly don’t want to live in a timeline where it replaces YouTube. But I can’t deny that YouTube is its worst enemy, and TikTok is better for content creators in 2022.
Which social media should you focus on in 2022?
Top social media in 2022
Top social media between 2000-2022
DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that nothing in this video shall be construed to be financial, legal or tax advice. The content of this video is solely the opinions of the speaker who is not a licensed financial advisor. All personal opinion is intended for general information purposes only