Stories: recapturing the culture of the ephemeral

Photo: Harli Marten

Stories, first launched by Snapchat in October 2013, have been extended to all social platforms (Instagram Stories in August 2016, Whatsapp Status in February 2017 and Facebook Stories in March 2017).

Even Twitter Moments and Medium Series reveal a paradigm shift about how content is shared and consumed in social media.

Indelible navigable content in an infinite timeline is gone. New generations are increasingly aware of the impact of their digital footprint and prefer not to leave a trace, while privileging immediate updates to their closest circle.

In stories, there is a recovery of the culture of oral tradition and lack of a registry, which characterizes face-to-face meetings and voice telephone conversations.

The fleetingness of these experiences does not necessarily make them superficial, on the contrary, it allows us to recover part of the spontaneity that disappears in environments crystallized forever on one platform.

In a platform like Instagram, you can see the obvious contrast between the vital and aesthetic perfection that tries to be represented with each photograph and the fluidity, informality, and absence of pretensions that characterizes stories.

While photos freeze a perfect moment (previously rehearsed and edited later with filters), stories encapsulate a quick, unedited narrative fragment of life itself.

In stories, there is a recovery of the culture of oral tradition and lack of a registry, which characterizes face-to-face meetings and voice telephone conversations.

The user’s immediate context becomes the new content, and the phone’s camera replaces the keyboard as an adequate coding mechanism.

The ephemeral nature of these evanescent stories frees users from the form and substance limitations typical of content intended to be archived.

Stories are a disposable sketch, while photos, messages, and tweets are permanent records that end up building (or destroying) our biography.

Recovering the natural magic of ephemeral experiences can be a way to oxygenate social networks of the designed imposture of so many perfect moments that only seek the praise of strangers.

Jose Luis Orihuela is a professor, speaker and author, born in Argentina and living in Spain. He is a faculty member of the School of Communication, University of Navarra (Pamplona). Visiting scholar and speaker in 26 countries. Writer and blogger focused on the impact of the internet on media, communication and culture. His latest books are: Culturas digitales (2021), Los medios después de internet (2015), Mundo Twitter (2011), 80 claves sobre el futuro del periodismo (2011) and La revolución de los blogs (2006). Blogging since 2002 (ecuaderno.com), Tweeting since 2007 (@jlori) and Tooting since 2022 (mastodon.cloud/@jlori).

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Profesor universitario, conferenciante y autor. Professor, Speaker and Author. Cultura digital. Digital culture. At: ecuaderno.com and mastodon.cloud/@jlori

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Jose Luis Orihuela

Jose Luis Orihuela

Profesor universitario, conferenciante y autor. Professor, Speaker and Author. Cultura digital. Digital culture. At: ecuaderno.com and mastodon.cloud/@jlori