Hello world and welcome back!
The story behind any budding company provides some valuable semblance of longer-term vision and goals. It acts as a blueprint from which the idea was rooted and the founders can base their product off, allowing early adopters to pave specific routes along the way. Nowadays, most B2C (and B2B) applications have found that story through a company blog. It creates a narrative of their developments, humanizing the process and explaining their reasoning behind decisions. I absolutely love this trend and have found some insightful posts on both technical breakdowns
or productivity hacks
. In the past, I’ve linked a few of such posts, which do provide an intimate look into the larger picture and grander goals. Yet rarely do such companies provide research-based opinion pieces on the industry at large.
I want to share with you one of Snapchat’s first published blogs on their site, which they title ‘The Liquid Self.’ I’ll get into the writing and content (also spectacular), but I strongly resonate with the title and its portrayal of social media as a whole. The liquidity of life is evident - it is a constant flow of emotions and experiences, with no stoppage or breaks. This liquid self changes as we grow, and takes on new forms and views over time. Most forms of social media, on the other hand, do not. They exist as a simulation of our identities, the illiquid counterpart documenting and boxing up the breakpoints that we choose to consolidate.
The blog derives its argument from the first principles of communication and social media - the premise that permanent online profiles and posts have many further-reaching implications beyond the immediate moments after a post. The profiles themselves are constrained to arbitrary scope and bounds defined by the creators, and as one’s own history and timeline expand, the weight of both living in the liquid self while maintaining a consistent illiquid counterpart grows.
Life is not boxed up. It doesn’t have constraints, and as many as we put on ourselves, we dictate what we do and how we do it. Profiles and posts are constrained. They are constricted to a size, a shape, an algorithm, a layout, a container. The burden of interacting wholly with such apps requires work and cognitive realization - what is the simulated identity that has been created and how does the new fall in line with that story?
Identity is liquid and fluid. It changes as we go and can be reimagined, and most social media doesn’t account for this. The identity we provide online relies on snapshots of the liquid self, implicitly reminding us of who we are or what we should aspire to. This creates a never-ending feedback loop, establishing a pseudo-identity that can’t ever represent reality yet still exists as a self-reflected containerized ghost.
As much as it’s ironic that a platform like Snapchat would release such a piece, it is a driving force behind their vision. Regardless of your thoughts, they do focus on the here and now, the liquid self in the current moment.
Another must-read. Check it out here