From egg photography to the #10yearchallenge, social media-wise, 2019 is off to a flying start.
DATA & THE #10YEARCHALLENGE BANDWAGON
The #10yearchallenge is a user-generated trend that has exploded across multiple social media platforms, where people are sharing photographs of themselves from 2009 and 2019. The premise is essentially to show how much you have (or haven’t) changed. Captioned with inspired or nostalgic musings around how we age and change with time, at the time of writing, there are over 4 million posts with the hashtag on Instagram.
Why has it taken off? It seems that the virality of showing how some things have changed and how others remain unchanged is undeniably contagious. Interestingly, this type of creative is not entirely new and similar memes have existed for some time. There are rarely new memes - just builds on existing ones.
Some have taken humorous approaches to the challenge - showing their pets ‘then and now’, or using imagery of fictional characters to represent a change in attitude in modern times. Others have taken the chance to highlight issues of concern, like the environmental crisis, using striking visuals of arctic ice and starving polar bears - “the only 10 year challenge we should be worrying about.”
The 10 year challenge has also prompted further debate around the content we freely share and how this is used by companies. Donagh Humphreys, Thinkhouse’s Social & Digital Director, notes that it is remarkable how potent social movements like this are for a myriad of reasons:
“Most concerning of all is people's ability to blindly jump on social bandwagons considering all of the controversy and scandal surrounding these social channels. 2009 is an arbitrary year - although it might represent a decade on from the iPhone becoming widely used. The logical conclusion of this movement should be mass awareness that we, of our own volition, have volunteered the last decade of our lives to corporations who monetise our behaviours and interests.”
Indeed, many critics of the challenge wonder whether there is a darker side to its origin - or its consequences. While on the surface it seems relatively harmless, there are many uncomfortable scenarios that this data could support. For instance, a Wired opinion piece points out that now, thanks to this meme, there is now a very large dataset of carefully curated photos of people from roughly 10 years ago and now. It proposed this insight into the aging process could, plausibly, be used to factor into insurance assessment and health care.
“It's tough to overstate the fullness of how technology stands to impact humanity… Humans are the connective link between the physical and digital worlds. Human interactions are the majority of what makes the Internet of Things interesting. Our data is the fuel that makes businesses smarter and more profitable. We should demand that businesses treat our data with due respect, by all means. But we also need to treat our own data with respect.” Kate O Neill.
More likely those who posted their 2009 vs 2019 photos will soon have forgotten it ever happened until they get their "on this day" reminder from Facebook in January 2020. Will future generations ever believe that we blithely shared such fleeting, atemporal and facile "content"? Luckily all of this is being permanently preserved for those future generations to revere, laugh (or wonder in awe) at.
THE EGG GANG CRACK THE INTERNET
True to the spirit of ‘weird’ being the new black, over the last 14 days a photograph of an egg has beaten out social media mogul Kylie Jenner to hold the most liked post on Instagram - or the internet - EVER. “Let’s set a world record together” the Instagram page proposed, “and get the most liked post on Instagram. Beating the current world record held by Kylie Jenner (18 million)! We got this 🙌”. Encouraging hashtags of support for the egg include: #LikeTheEgg #EggSoldiers #EggGang.
Why are youth giving a simple egg their sought-after love?
Firstly, because it’s easy. Besides the fact that people love eggs, this phenomenon shows us how simple it is for fans to actually tap the ‘love’ button on Instagram. It requires little effort, but the reward of an internal (or external) giggle, makes it all worthwhile. As many young people we spoke to put it - “it’s just so funny.”
While many Kardashian fans may have ‘liked’ the post for this giggle-worthy reason, another group of people ‘liked’ the egg in spite of Kylie Jenner. Just as the Kardashians attract millions of likes, they have their share of haters who resent the attention their content gets on a daily basis. The opportunity, therefore, to dethrone this noteworthy user of the platform is attractive. Perhaps this is a signifying statement that our ‘influencer’ ecosystem is fragile.
It’s more than an egg; it’s a movement. The simple action brings people together in a unique, democratic way - not in support of any one individual, but a nondescript everyday object. Twitter users have unashamedly called it “the greatest coming together mankind has ever seen”. The sense of collective accomplishment is like no other.