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Posted on : Friday 13th March 2020 03:02 AM

Telling Stories: How Linkedin Took on Office Banter

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There will soon be yet another way to connect on LinkedIn, as the professionals’ platform trials a version of “Stories” – posts that expire after 24 hours – pioneered by Snapchat and popularised by Instagram.

Pete Davies of LinkedIn says that the feature is intended to replicate the “similarly ephemeral and light … cubicle and coffee-shop banter” that characterises interactions in the business world. “Sometimes, we want a way to just make a connection, have a laugh with our colleagues and move on.”

Finally: a way to capture online the silent nod you exchange with your colleague while waiting for them to finish filling their absurdly capacious water bottle. But that’s not all: Spotify is also rolling out Stories, allowing select users to post videos introducing their playlists.

Even Twitter – already by its nature transitory – last week announced that it was testing the option to make posts that disappear after a day and which can’t be retweeted, liked or publicly responded to. It is calling them “Fleets” – “a way to share fleeting thoughts” – great news for anyone who finds sustaining a cogent thought for 280 characters too taxing.

As one tech journalist put it: “I can barely find the words to express how little I want this.” Yet, attempts to replicate the rejuvenating effect Stories had for Instagram (which shamelessly lifted the feature from Snapchat in August 2016) speaks to their dominance.

Whether it is a rambling piece to camera delivered by video or a haphazard burst of images and screenshots, the informal and lightweight nature of Stories is increasingly coming to define what we think of as social media. It is fundamentally different from the early social internet, when blogposts, dating profiles and even Facebook statuses were laboured over and crafted to display your originality or ability, to some extent with posterity in mind.

Now, as LinkedIn’s Davies notes, “there’s an entire generation growing up with Stories as a way of speaking”, who prefer to “share content that lives as a moment in time rather than as an item in a feed”.

The expiration feature is often presented as a reprieve from the tyranny of “the grid”; a more casual, off-the-cuff means of engaging with social media, which relieves some of the pressure to present a perfect, cohesive image online. But people are typically active on both features, effectively doubling their social media “workload” – and if your output is gone after 24 hours, that “work” is never done. Not when LinkedIn is asking you to digitally replicate your “interactions in the break room or passing people in the hall”.


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