Why I’m Not a Fan of Social Media Short Videos, Reels, and TikTok
Nowadays, it seems like people are hooked on mindlessly scrolling through endless 30-second videos for hours rather than exploring the vast array of possibilities the internet has to offer. In fact, I’m willing to bet that most individuals wouldn’t even bother finishing reading this article, as they’d rather spend their time on the addictive allure of short videos; it’s like we forgot to read.
In early 2018, TikTok went viral globally with its 30-second video format. As a millennial, I found myself laughing at the absurdity and shallowness of these videos. However, it didn’t take long for us to realize their negative consequences. TikTok was eventually banned in our country for reasons such as teenagers’ addiction, accidents caused by reckless behaviour, and concerns over data privacy and security.
Fast forward to 2023, and short videos are now everywhere, permeating every social media platform. This is where my first problem arises.
It’s Everywhere: Losing Uniqueness
If I don’t like a particular app, I simply choose not to install it and immediately uninstall it if it comes pre-installed on my device. Snapchat, for instance, never made its way onto my phone because the cat ear filters and other juvenile features didn’t appeal to me. Similarly, I never felt the need to install TikTok; I only know them from watching youtube reactions, from WhatsApp status, and reading news articles. If you’re interested, I highly recommend checking out Dr. Mike’s YouTube channel, which offers insightful reactions and fact-checking of TikTok videos.
Returning to our main point, let’s take a moment to remember the good old Instagram before it was acquired by Meta. It was a platform where users could explore stunning photos from talented creators and share image memes with friends. However, now, not only Instagram but almost every social media platform seems to be prioritizing short videos. These platforms have become increasingly similar, losing the unique essence that made each app distinct in the first place. It’s disheartening to witness the erosion of individuality in pursuing business profits.
Not only that but now it seems like every creator feels compelled to package their content into short videos, regardless of whether or not it actually suits the material. Must everything be a reel? I find myself questioning the necessity of turning a simple image meme into a moving, background-music-infused reel, or condensing valuable information into a thirty-second video clip. The same information could easily be conveyed in a quick glance at an image, saving both time and effort. It would take seconds to read the content, and you wouldn’t have to invest a significant amount of time. Most importantly, the format would align seamlessly with the content, making it a well-suited choice.
However, in 2023, it seems like everything has to be a reel. Social media platforms relentlessly push this format because everyone is onto it. Creators follow suit, believing it to be the only way to reach a wider audience. And people consume these reels because social media shoves them to the top of their feeds, making them readily available and effortless to watch. It’s like a never-ending loop perpetuating the reel frenzy, leaving little room for other engaging and diverse content.
Addiction: The Scary Reality
Remember the scene from the movie “WALL-E” where people were depicted sitting in their mobile chairs, engrossed in hologram screens that controlled their content consumption? We don’t need to wait for years for that dystopian future; we’re already living it. I observe people around me constantly scrolling and mindlessly consuming reels, particularly during my daily commute. It’s disconcerting to think about the incredible potential we hold in our hands, yet we squander it on endless streams of reels.
Do we solely blame social media for this addiction? To some extent, yes. They could have implemented stricter restrictions for children and teenagers. Additionally, considering the numerous lawsuits and controversies surrounding these platforms, they could have taken measures to prevent the spread of unhealthy and fake news. However, they prioritized profits over responsibility. Gone are the days when social media platforms like Facebook upheld ethics, passion, and a genuine desire to connect people. Today, it’s all about maximizing profits, expanding the company, and losing sight of its original purpose.
If you justify your screen time on social media by finding genuine entertainment, meaningful socializing, or healthy outcomes, that’s good. However, if you find yourself mindlessly using it without any real benefits, it’s time to reflect on who is the real culprit. Reels might be the problem, and it’s up to you to decide what you can do about it.
Yes, There’s Some Good Content
Before delving further into this topic, let’s address an important issue. If you rely on your health or trust social media for accurate science or news, it’s crucial to reassess your approach. We’re well aware of how quickly fake news spreads like wildfire on social media, with teenagers posing as self-proclaimed experts, sharing health tips or declaring scientific facts they’ve encountered in sensational headlines or even dreamed up. If you’re easily deceived by such misinformation, I highly recommend investing in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s MasterClass on scientific thinking or, better yet, avoiding social media altogether. It will benefit you and those with whom you share information and engage in debates regarding what you’ve seen on social media without fact-checking.
Now, let’s get back to the main point of the heading. Yes, there is undoubtedly some good content to be found amidst the sea of short videos. Occasionally, I stumble upon channels like Dr. Mike, Minute Earth, Physics Girl, or clips related to films etc. shorts on YouTube. However, these snippets of quality content are becoming increasingly scarce and rarely make their way onto the trending or Instagram Reels tabs. Remember the good old days when YouTube’s trending tab showcased independent movie trailers, informative and entertaining science videos from channels like Minute Earth and SciShow, and a variety of engaging creators? That used to be my go-to place for both entertainment and knowledge. Unfortunately, the social media algorithms are now more focused on keeping users hooked to their devices for as long as possible rather than providing valuable and diverse content. It’s disheartening to witness the decline of meaningful and informative content. The algorithms have shifted their priorities, sacrificing substance and variety for the sake of prolonged screen time. As users, we deserve better.
In conclusion, the widespread adoption of short videos, reels, and TikTok-like features across various social media platforms has resulted in a loss of uniqueness, contributed to addiction, and diluted the quality of content available to users. While some good content remains to be found, it has become increasingly overshadowed by the endless stream of mindless and often superficial videos. It’s essential for us, as users, to critically evaluate our social media usage, prioritize our time, and seek out platforms or channels that provide valuable and meaningful experiences. By doing so, we can reclaim the true essence of social media and foster a healthier and more enriching online environment.