—Craig Redmond takes a look at social platforms’ year in review videos, from Reddit’s “comical weirdness,” to TikTok’s “weirdly harmless.”—
Emblazoned across one of our agency walls, in that signature Ralph Steadman, bleeding ink style, is my favourite quote from the sardonically seditious scribe, Hunter S. Thompson: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
Well, it couldn’t have gotten any weirder than it has been these past two years. And given that much of that time was spent in isolation, with our idle hands loitering in the devil’s workshop, the internet is where much of that weirdness presented itself.
Studies show an average 50% to 70% increase in internet use during the pandemic, 50% of which was spent on social media, and much of that seeking out information—a phenomenon now described as the “infodemic.”
Our reliance on social feeds to entertain, communicate and, worst of all, inform, is tribalizing humanity and isolating those tribes worse than Covid ever could.
And it is reflected in the 2021 year in review compilations that social media and other internet platforms are sharing now.
Now, I’m not sure if Reddit is using the same algorithms as Facebook to channel tailored news to users according to their data profile, or if that bespoke news consumption happens naturally by virtue of the communities that people have joined. Regardless, a whole bunch of people are consuming only the information that they want to read, hear, or see.
And with 52 million active daily users, we can be sure there’s a ton of that tribal disinformation being regurgitated.
But, all that festering untruth aside, of all the year in review videos, Reddit’s Recap best depicts the comical weirdness of 2021 and its tribal authors.
Without doubt, the most fascinating social media revelation has been the meteoric rise of TikTok. A platform that didn’t exist five years ago now boasts more than 1 billion monthly users.
TikTok’s look at the year past celebrates the creators of what most would describe as a weirdly harmless source of entertainment. Unless, of course, that entertainment involves getting kids to consume detergent products.
Google was formed in 2000 with the unofficial corporate motto, “Don’t be Evil.” Eighteen years later, the phrase was removed from its corporate governance, code of conduct. Around the same time the company was considering customizing its search engine for China to abide by its repressive censorship laws—a plan which was later thrown out by Google.
And we all know that its powerful search engine drives a whole lot of the toxic content being spread around the world 24/7, commanding 92.6% of all internet searches.
Despite those sketchy business decisions, Google’s own look at 2021 is significantly more profound than that of both TikTok and Reddit. Because it examines the weirdness of 2021 through a much more discerning, heartfelt lens. And commemorates all those weird ones who did indeed turn pro and owned the shit out of all that weirdness.
Here’s hoping that 2022 will be spent more face-to-face and less screen-to-endlessly-death-scrolling-screen. And bring us a little more normal and a little less weirdness. But not too much normal. That would be weird.
Happy holidays everyone. See you in the new year.
Craig Redmond is a Creative Leader with Palmer Stamnes and Co, an independent family of marketing communication companies.