You may have heard by now that Facebook now has a “Stories” feature — or, if you’re one of the apparent majority of Facebook users who doesn’t use the feature, you may not have.
Facebook Stories are supposed to work like Snapchat or Instagram stories in that they allow you to post short photo or video snippets of your day that expire after a set amount of time. Unfortunately, Facebook Stories has taken the route of Google+ or the long-forgotten Ello: nobody actually wants to use them to share their day-to-day lives when they already have the same feature available on other apps.
The concept of using Facebook Stories is laughable to me. I am a veteran of both Instagram stories and Snapchat, and the idea of forcing myself to use Facebook, which is an entirely separate world from IG and Snapchat, makes me kind of gag.
I was actually a late adopter to Instagram and, like most people, I was skeptical when they first introduced stories last year. I’d had bad experiences on Snapchat, not the least of which learning that a guy I’d been seeing had another girlfriend by seeing their snaps together. I didn’t want to have to abandon another platform because it felt too intrusive, but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized how functional and awesome a complement stories was to my overall IG experience.
On Snapchat, you’re pretty much only there to spy on your friends (with their permission, of course). You’re there to see your aunts’ manicures, your BFFs living it up without you (and sometimes, the morning after partying with you) and your acquaintances traveling. It feels exclusive and fun because the images are gone after a day; a quick, fleeting peek into people’s lives. And, although Snap does have a similarly-disappearing messaging system, it’s the image sharing that really makes the difference.
When IG added stories, they added them to an already successful and more permanent image-sharing platform accompanied by a very intimate direct message system. And, perhaps most beautifully of all, IG stories feel much more voluntary than Facebook Stories: it’s easier to skip over them, and the top-of-the-app slider feature feels like a serious upgrade to the more playful-looking Snapchat.
IG stories have the same feel as regular IG: it’s a place where you show off your best selfies, your funniest daily sightings and your coolest nightlife shots. On IG, we all want to look cooler than we actually are, and when the company took the gamble with stories, it managed to translate that culture over, too.
Facebook, on the other hand, is a very different scene. Facebook is where you post political articles, text updates about your day or about big things going on in your life, and the occasional shared meme. It’s not that it’s worse than IG in some way, but it’s much more of a basic Starbucks feel to IG’s artisanal vegan coffeeshop vibe.
Quite accordingly, Facebook Stories is kind of like taking the more mundane day-to-day posts on Facebook and turning them into time-limited stories – why would anyone care to see their friend’s fleeting thoughts on the current political system or how annoying the people that live upstairs are?
It seems like Facebook Stories might be suffering from the same doing-too-much hubris that made Google+ the laughable platform that it is. Facebook already has a successful news feed feature, allows users incredibly fleshed-out profiles that act as text and image-based snapshots of their actual lives, and a powerful messaging platform. Why should it imitate Snapchat and Instagram, platforms that only have one or two major edges to them?
Google was the most powerful online company in the world when it rolled out Google+, which is used more often to find directions to the laundromat than anything else. You’d think Facebook would have learned its lesson before rolling out Stories, but alas, it seems it hasn’t. Seriously, nobody wants to see videos of their families like that. It’s a no from me.
Now read about how your smartphone could be damaging your mental health.
- Words: Noor Al-Sibai
- Lead image: Facebook