The Entire ‘Stories’ of You

“The Entire History of You” is the third and final episode of the first series of British science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. The episode, set in an alternative reality where most people have “grains” recording everything they do, see, or hear, and allowing them to play back their memories in front of their eyes or on a screen (Wikipedia). In this episode, the male protagonist suspects his wife have an affair with someone else. He starts to ‘study’ details of every piece of recorded memory only to find out the ‘truth’. When I watched this episode, I kind of felt that being able to ‘possess’ the entire history of oneself seemed to be a bad idea. However, for transforming all the data into digital forms, classifying and categorizing information and making it easy to search through hyper-linking seems to me people try hard to keep or record every moment and second. Interestingly, in reality there is also an ‘anti-eternal’ stuff appreciated by a lot of users – Instagram Stories.

On the social media Instagram, also known as IG or Insta (though one of my friends who is a Canadian always refuses to call Instagram ‘Insta’ for no particular reason and insists that he have never heard one of his friends ever said that in his life), an American photo and video-sharing social networking service now owned by Facebook, Inc., introduced the ‘Stories’ option (which is originally a Snapchat function) and evolved it, providing their users with new tools and options in the summer of 2016. Stories, this ephemeral ‘burn-after-reading’ function in which each story will be automatically self-deleted 24 hours after being posted is enjoyed by over 300 million ‘Insta’ users (in 2017) and still continues to rise in usage.

During my exchange semester, I also become one of the heavy users of “Insta” and particularly in favor of using Stories sharing everyday trivials. And I never think to myself what are the reasons behind people becoming fans of posting a ‘memorable’ moment to our friends and simultaneously recognize the fact that this piece of valuable image could be deleted a day after. In this blog post (and maybe in the following blog posts), I will try to develop my own ideas on Instagram Stories.

One of the most important motifs of users’ (at least my) posting an Instagram Story is the fear of missing out a particular moment. I am more comfortable with possessing a thing (could be a moment, an image or anything) which I considered precious and important instead of watching it disappear. And I think the mechanism of this fear is based on our personal experience. We all have those moments that we regret about. We all experience the negativity of losing something. Seeing a tool which enables us to keep that important thing, in a way not losing it, makes us want to or have to take out our cellphones and do the recording. So is the case when we check other people’s Insta Stories or from time to time we check our phones and visit social media again and again. We are so afraid of missing out information in a information abundant world. And in a way, the 24-hour time limit strengthens this fear of missing out. The scarcity of Insta Stories deepens our tempt to read them. That is to say, reading or posting Insta Stories both reinforce people to repeatedly do it by providing positive emotional feedback and reducing the stress and fear of disconnecting (social value).

to be continued…