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Creativity Culture Psychology Tech

When ugly is beautiful


In a selfie-obsessed world, it pays to be ugly. Fashion houses across the world make eye-cringing designs on purpose. The crazier, the better.

Says Prada’s head fashion designer Miuccia Prada“The investigation of ugliness is, to me, more interesting than the bourgeois idea of beauty. And why? Because ugly is human. It touches the bad and the dirty side of people.”

Why do people love using Snapchat over other social media services? Because it celebrates authenticity. When people try to be real, they can be flawed, which is relatable.

Beautiful gets boring. Ugly is pervasive and unforgettable. It stands out with a clear message.

Balenciaga nailed ugly when it designed clothes inspired by the Bernie Sanders logo.

Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images

Gucci’s Dapper Dan jacket is an attempt to throw back to an era of displeasing design.

Photo via NYTimes

People preferred Madona when she displayed her natural gap tooth. Ugly is about breaking the rules and doing things a little different. Models never smile on the runway because they want to be unshakeable.

But people view the world as it relates to them. Letting go of perfection and designing for ugly creates a sense of communion with the viewer.

art via giphy

Categories
Social Media Tech

The Snapchat bandaid

Hold it vertical! (image via Samuel Zeller)

Just make it look like a Snapchat. All social networks are becoming extensions of Snapchat, a medium that once stood on its own.

Snapchat introduced the next text messaging obsession: video consumption. Now, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp all have skin in the mobile messaging video game. YouTube is also trying to become more interactive and personal.

People don’t necessarily love Snapchat. They love the idea of Snapchat because it serves a desire for quick and raw ephemeral sharing. Snapchat is a delivery system, just as we associate fast shipping with Amazon Prime. That’s why it’s easy for other networks to replicate Snapchat’s modern features and the ride the wave of mainstream smartphone instant communication. However, it’s not so easy to compete against a market leader. There’s no evidence to suggest that the emergence of Instagram Stories have crimped the use of Snapchat.

But when others copy your style, you pivot. Snapchat is wise to pivot into hardware with Spectacles, a more useful social version of Google Glass that intends to record moments rather than act as a computer for the eyes. It’s no surprise that Apple is considering making its own pair.

At first, they ridicule you; then, they emulate what you do. Snapchat was once a different medium. But now that its features are expectations, can it keep its platform fun enough to hang on to the fickle smartphone user?

Categories
Life & Philosophy

The naked, karaoke version of you

It’s no fun if you’re good at karaoke. It’s equally annoying to laugh while you’re singing. You’re supposed to be so bad that your friends can’t ignore you. Said it’s Japanese creator Daisuke Inoue:

“I was nominated [as] the inventor of karaoke, which teaches people to bear the awful singing of ordinary citizens, and enjoy it anyway. That is ‘genuine peace,’ they told me.”

One could say we live in the “karaoke age” of social media, where posting stories on Instagram and Snapchat is supposed to reveal our strengths and our weaknesses. Of course, the opposite happens too: people share an edited version of themselves. Some people even become social influencers, turning pleasure into a business, forgetting that sharing was intended to be fun and unprofessional.

Says karaoke hobbyist Alexandra Molotkow in her essay Sing to Me:

Good karaoke performers are often likable for what they’ve forgotten they’re not: famous, or even all that good…Karaoke is a way of performing your shortcomings, which implies the hope of transfiguring them — flaws become eccentricities, which add up to character.

What makes karaoke genuine is what makes acting behind a smartphone screen look fake: it exposes your vulnerabilities in public. Anything less than acting poorly on the mic will make people think you’re a flake.

Most social events are transactions. It’s no surprise that at the end of the day, we make friends with individuals who strip us of our restraint and give us the freedom to express ourselves. The real you is already naked and famous.

Karaoke presents as much naked you as most strangers could possibly enjoy; but it’s still mostly an add-on, something you mustn’t confuse with the you that requires permanent renovation. Whoever you are, you are worthy of attention and approval. May we remember what to keep to ourselves.

Categories
Culture

What’s next?

What’s next? Are we over the smartphone boom and the newest social networking app already?

We live in a ‘next’ society. We need something new every couple of months. As the chips get faster, so too do our consumption habits. 

We long to get over what’s staring us in the face so we can move on to the next dopamine hitNo one wants to wait. No one wants to cope with their boredom. Phoneless, people would rather zap themselves instead.  

Facebook is in a hurry to beat out Snapchat and recreate the Prisma app. Twitter dropped Vine. We’re all treating things like we get treated at the DMV; like cogs in a queue we can’t skip, made to feel suppressed and unimportant. Next in line!

Just because we’re in the industrial revolution of computers doesn’t mean we need to speed up all behaviors. Myopia is killing long-term thinking and shortening our appreciation for what already exists. What happened to celebrating small victories and supporting the Internet of niches–or did the Internet mainstream everything (re: MIA)?

The Zeigarnik effect wants us to replace anticipation with actions we can’t even remember afterward. You accomplished XYZ, but what does it all mean?

When we slow down, do our thing, and let other do their’s, life meets us halfway. We can’t all do each other’s work, out copy each other and live each other’s lives. What’s next is sticking to the real you.

Categories
Apps Social Media

Instagram clones Snapchat Stories, for the better  

Steal like an artist

Facebook picked a strong running mate in Instagram to take on Snapchat. It had no choice. Facebook’s efforts to combat Snapchat with standalone apps like Poke and Slingshot didn’t work. No one wants to download yet another social networking app.

So instead of recreating the wheel Instagram straight up copied Snapchat’s stories. And it has no shame. Kevin Systrom admits:

“They deserve all the credit”, but insisted “This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.””

Instagram Stories is an evolutionary update. It catches up with the ephemeral nature of mobile. Stories will encourage people to share more freely without the anxiety of likes. It also gives users a chance to add more context to their gallery images – a backstory to their photos – while also revealing a bit about their personality. The Internet wants real, not fake.

The challenge for users going forward will be knowing what and when to post imperfect images in Stories versus the regular feed. Brand strategies will have to rethink their storytelling as well. They will have to push live content as a lead-up to the permanent photo moment.

There are too many social apps. For many users including myself, Instagram Stories comes as a relief. I don’t want to have to create yet another following on Snapchat. I suspect that Instagram’s next update will be some live features like YouNow and Periscope so it can further compete.

While competition with Facebook hegemony is healthy, it makes more sense to fish where the people already are. I’m looking forward to Snapchat’s response.

Categories
Social Media

Online Is the New TV

I cut the cable years ago. But now TV is more pervasive because online is TV and Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook Live are the channels.

But this new type of TV is different. It’s real, raw, and mostly unedited. For that reason, it can be more entertaining (re: distracting) than traditional TV.

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It’s no surprise that social media has overtaken traditional TV as a place where people find and consume the news.

The new TV is right in front of us on your computer screen, laptop or mobile. TV is ubiquitous, pervasive. And it’s just going to get stickier.

The newsfeed will be all video over the next 5 years. This means we’ll need to be wary of over-consumption.

Our attention is already scarce. TV is TV regardless of where the majority of people view video. Time spent watching TV can either be time-wasted or time well spent. Keep your eyeballs intact.