Rewind 30 years and so many things have changed.
If we wanted to communicate with someone, generally we’d use a landline, send a fax or write a letter. Those who had mobile phones were few and far between and there were none of the fandangled applications that we are so accustomed to today. People on public transport would converse and if there was dirty laundry to be aired, it was generally done behind closed doors.
Then came the introduction of social media, there is some disparity between what people believe was the first platform, but Six Degrees was the first that would be the closest in similarity to the social media sites we use today. Created in 1996, users were able to create a profile and make friends with other site users.
1999 saw the popularity of blog sites growing and this fuelled the fire for more prominence in the social media sector. Home computers were becoming less of a rarity and more of the norm. Sites like Linked In, Bebo and Myspace were growing in popularity along with platforms that enabled photo sharing, most prominently Flickr, Photobucket and now one of the biggest video sharing sites Youtube.
In 2005 Youtube was created in a garage, initiated as an online dating platform where users would upload videos in a bid to find their perfect suitor. Realizing the potential to broaden the users of the site, they opened the video submissions to ‘general’ and ditched the matchmaking ethos, which proved to be revolutionary to the site’s success. After just a few short months, an advert starring iconic footballer Ronaldino racked up over 1 million views. Just one year later, Youtube was acquired by Google for a staggering $1.65 billion! And still remains the 2nd largest website in the world.
Other social media platforms followed from 2006, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. With the rapid acceleration of people’s access to the internet, the popularity of these sites soared.
The Internet was no longer just available at work, every household soon had it and to fuel the addiction to social media, smartphones entered the market so you could access the internet whenever you could get good reception. No need to wait for a letter to arrive, you can communicate instantaneously with anyone around the globe.
Walk into a cafe, bar, park or party and you will see so many people, with their phone glued to them. Instead of staring lovingly into one anthers eye, couples eating dinner are snapping a pic of their dinner and a pic with their date “#greatfood #hotdate”. You constantly hear, “Ooooh take another picture, my nose looks big”, “Take another pic, I don’t like my hair”, “What filter shall I use?”.
Blast it out on Facebook or Instagram and instead of putting the phone away and enjoying the evening, the ding, ding, ding of notifications ambushes the conversation. “How many likes did you get?”, “Oooh I can’t believe he/ she liked my picture”. The evening becomes less about the ambiance of the place, the music playing, the flavorsome food and more about the pictures you can post on your social media accounts and the gratification you receive by racking up likes and comments.
According to Airborne Agency, Businesses have cottoned on to this fact and the design and decor of our favorite eateries are changing. Vintage bikes, hanging baskets, fake flowers, cool custom neon signs with quirky quotes, photo booths, modern funky décor. It’s not just the interior designs that are changing, so too are the items we order.
Order a milkshake and it’s now a piece of art. Crystallized sugar love hearts protruding from a bed of cream floating heavenly on top of a gargantuan milkshake that has honeycomb and chocolate pieces crushed up, clinging to the glass by a sheath of melted chocolate. It looks divine, the consumption by any normal person is likely to induce a sugar coma but wow, it’s so Instaworthy!!
“#Iminheavenrightnow” What about the donuts that come with a syringe to insert your own filling? Wow!! So snappable!! Slightly bonkers when we are raging war against plastic wastage, but how many likes will you get with “#shootingup” or “#gettingmyfix”?
Why wouldn’t businesses capitalize on this social self-absorption to increase their revenue? Most establishments have social media pages and encourage you to tag yourself at their location with a picture of yourself having fun. It’s free advertising for the business and another opportunity for the social media mule to once again exhibit to the world what a great life they have #Lovinglife. It doesn’t matter that the photo required 25 attempts while screaming at the kids to “look like you are having fun!!” The hashtags will always be the same: #Preciousmoments #Myfambamisbetterthanyours #mykidsmyworld
Wouldn’t it be great to find an establishment that didn’t allow mobile phones at the dinner table? Families and couples could be in the actual moment, rather than the filtered version of life that we portray to the world through social media.
But that is sooo #30yearsago.