Ding Dong, the Feed Is Dead

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Even if a tweet didn’t ruin your life, you still have an archive of embarrassment that Facebook has diligently saved for you: ill-advised jokes, too-earnest expressions of emotion, and photos in which we simply look terrible. While movements like #deletefacebook were ostensibly about protecting your data from corporations, perhaps they also reflected a desire for another kind of privacy: a way to just erase all that unflattering history.

So we developed ad-hoc fixes: anonymous Twitter accounts, teen “Finstagrams,” group texts, private Slacks, deactivating Facebook when you’re not online. (They’re not perfect. It only took a few hours Gizmodo to find James Comey’s supposedly secret Twitter account.) The decline in oversharing wasn’t just about the difficulty of maintaining a pristine persona; it was also that the space for oversharing started to feel inappropriate, and sometimes even unsafe.

In response, tech companies have leaned hard on the “story.” The disappearing images and videos were first popularized by Snapchat, but are showing up everywhere else, too. The beauty of stories is that they are messier and rougher than regular posts, focused on fun and immediacy instead of how they’ll look in hindsight. And why shouldn’t they be? A few hours later, they’ll just delete. Instagram claims 300 million daily users of the feature.

What happens next is probably not the overthrow of Facebook or Twitter— especially now that those platforms are making a lot of noise about how they want to change. The need for an online presence, even if it’s just LinkedIn, is a big historical shift, not just a fad.

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I’m Sorry To Report Instagram Is Bad Now

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In a time when social media seems full of negativity and soul-crushing content, Instagram has remained, for lots of people, the one haven that’s enjoyable…

But lately — and I am sure I am not alone here — Instagram has changed. Scrolling through vacation pics and cute dogs is no longer the serene, happy refuge that it used to be. Admit it: You feel differently.

In my experience, the problem is that as Stories has exploded in popularity, people — at the very least, my friends and the celebrities I follow — seem to be posting to the regular photo feed less often. While they’re posting Stories daily, they’re only sharing a photo to the feed a few times a week. Our feeds have grown stale and are littered with ads and celebrities and influencers: people who are still posting actively, professionally, obligatorily.

And Stories has made the stakes for posting photos to the feed way higher. The slowdown in new photos make you feel like something has to be really special or worthwhile to post — an important announcement that you’re out of town or some milestone like a major haircut or an engagement — because there’s no hiding in the crowd. I understand it. Posting to the feed seems so demanding of people’s attention, so permanent.

Instagram Is Now a Dating Platform, Too. Here’s How It Works.

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Not only does Instagram provide a visually driven collage of your life, it also offers a subtle way of expressing interest through likes and comments, and connecting in the form of a private chat. Meanwhile, the lists of users who have looked at each of your Story cards mean that you now have data — rudimentary and inconclusive, but still, data! — on who exactly is obsessing over you today, tomorrow and yesterday.

Confused by the order of story views? Don’t worry. So is everyone else.

“The theory is that whoever are your biggest stalkers on Instagram are at the top,” Ms. Fisher said, referring to the lists of users who have looked at your Story. But that is just a theory. According to a spokesperson, the order is “based on a number of signals including people who recently viewed your story, accounts you interact with the most on Instagram, and more.”

The mystery has spawned endless ideas about the ranking of handles. In a thread on Reddit, users have documented experiments in which they altered various factors like how often they looked at a friend’s profile, or how often they liked photos on a profile, to see which ones had an effect on the order and which ones did not. The goal for many was to figure out that all-consuming question: Does my crush like me as much as I like them?

Thirst traps: what they are and how to use them

Thirst: a strong desire for something; a lust for attention.

Thirst trap: An image or video that’s intended to attract attention from someone and elicit a response.

“A thirst trap can be as simple as a selfie,” said Andrew Keller, 25, a creative strategist at Paper magazine. “I can put up a really cute selfie of me, and the caption can be, ‘Just ate a bag of Twizzlers, hate myself.’”

“It’s like you’re throwing out a net into a sea of fish,” Mr. Yau said. “Whenever I post a story, I kind of have an idea already of who will respond or what kind of response I will get.” If you are successful, the person you are targeting will be tempted to comment. Might even actually comment. Might even “slide into your DMs.” If so, you have pulled off your very own thirst trap.

How Instagram Opened a Ruthless New Chapter in the Teen Photo Wars

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Rob: Okay, so we’re about a month in. Have you found anyone seriously using Instagram Stories? Has anyone switched from using Snapchat Stories to Instagram Stories? You are my informant for this.

Rob’s [Teenage] Brother: I don’t really feel like anyone uses their Instagram story—people use it, but not as much as they use their Snapchat story. With Snapchat Stories, they have the expectation that their friends will see it, but with Instagram, you can’t really trust that it’s just your friends who will be seeing it.

Rob: So how often do you check people’s Snapchat Stories?

Rob’s Brother: Twice a day. But I don’t usually go to the stories section—when I open Snapchat, I don’t check stories every time.

Rob: Can you give me an example of what an average Snapchat use is? You open the app, and what happens?

Rob’s Brother: I think the generic Snapchat exchange is an exchange of selfies to keep a streak going. I find that Snapchat conversations involving pictures don’t really involve actually a … conversation. It’s just, like, exchanging pictures.

Instagram Stories: who cares about your commute or cleansing routine?

instagram stories

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I don’t hate Instagram Stories, but Instagram Stories hates me.

I also don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such brilliant friends in life, but, equally, I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve their banal videos of facial cleansing routines or them making a peace sign on a busy road as a lorry roars by or a macro shot of a bug they found in the bathroom.

This is what I’ve had to witness since Instagram introduced its clone of Snapchat’s Stories – a section that lets users posts pictures and videos that are only available for 24 hours.