June 24, 2024

I’m Already Bored Using Threads. Is It Social Media Overload?

Maybe it’s time for something completely new.

The Threads app launched a while back, and I jumped into the fray and started posting. I noticed that my follower count was increasing on a daily basis, and a few pundits started sharing insightful posts. (I later realized they were copy and paste from Twitter or Instagram.)

When the news first came out about Threads and how easy it is to sign up – since the app uses your Instagram login – I thought it would be a big hit. I was right, for the most part. The microblogging app attracted over 100 million users, bursting into pursuit.

As is often the case, the initial frenzy faded within days. One recent report revealed that the number of daily active users (meaning, people who are actually using the app and don’t just have an account) has halved in more than one week. The hype hit a crescendo on July 7 and landed with a thud by July 14. It currently sits at around 23 million active users, compared to 49 million the previous week.

I followed that same trajectory of interest, and over about the same week. I was posting a few times at first, then experimenting with links and short posts. I started following a few people and scanning their feeds. I even paused my Twitter activity for a bit and focused on the new kid in town, if you can call an app funded by a $754 billion company a a child.

An early summary of the app hit the nail square on the head: Threads do nothing new. He looks, acts, breathes, walks, talks, and pretends to be Twitter. I don’t think that’s because I’m already bored using the app, though.

This is the reason. I’m a bit bored with the whole social media space. Post and click, like and follow. Do it a million times. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t expect to build my following again on a new app. It all reminds me too much of the audio chat app called Clubhouse, which forced everyone to create a following. I remember that strange feeling of trying to fight my own brand and then noticing that five people joined my audio chat. The solution? Take the following slowly, as always. I decided to skip that.

One way to describe social media is that we are all helping to build a giant advertising machine – one follower at a time. We are doing all the work and the companies that make these apps reap the benefits. We are very happy to have a lot of followers, to see people who admire our posts, and to hope to land in the spotlight and go viral. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg keeps counting his money and chuckling softly to himself about how we’re stupid enough to play along.

Are we stupid? Not really. We are a person. Social media apps know that we are all attention seekers and we are all information seekers. We want to know and we want to let him know. The problem is that this digital treadmill keeps running forever, with no end in sight. That’s really the whole point of social media, to convince us that there is a goal and at the same time never let us reach the goal. It is perfectly alluring. The Threads app is just the latest endless bundle.

Unfortunately, I think it’s starting to unravel.

I will continue to use the app and see how it all expands. The data suggests that many users tried the app, kicked a few coins, and left. The interface is clean and tidy, and I have yet to see a flame war.

I’ve been sticking around for a while. Just a little more awareness about why we keep using these apps, what we hope to get, and if someone is finally wondering how social media apps are worth using again. Until then, more treadmill.

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