Telling stories: how LinkedIn took on office banter

The professional platform is the latest social media site to offer a service where posts expire after 24 hours. But do we really need this kind of fleeting work-based chat?

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”.


Elle Hunt

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Logged off: meet the teens who refuse to use social media
Generation Z has grown up online – so why are a surprising number suddenly turning their backs on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat?

Sirin Kale

29, Aug, 2018 @5:00 AM

Article image
Should we all copy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and give up social media at weekends?
Even though the congresswoman is an ace on Twitter, she believes it’s best to log out sometimes – and that this might help reduce stress and depression

Sam Wolfson

17, Apr, 2019 @3:41 PM

Article image
Scroll Free September: can you ditch social media for a month?
Did a gym visit even happen if you didn’t post a selfie of it? Scroll Free September is urging online addicts to take a break

31, Aug, 2018 @5:15 PM

Article image
The hospital selfie is the dose of reality social media needs
So much of what we share online is fantasy, but posting pictures from a hospital bed helps people feel less isolated and can demystify disability and illness

Dawn Foster

30, Jan, 2019 @4:13 PM

Article image
The great internet swindle: ever get the feeling you've been cheated?
The internet was meant to liberate and empower its users. But the real effect has been to create vast monopolies and turn us into victims, argues web sceptic Andrew Keen in his controversial new book The Internet is Not the Answer

Jon Henley

09, Feb, 2015 @7:15 PM

Article image
Wiley's racism flowed because social media is a petri dish of hate | Nish Kumar
The rapper will pay for his antisemitism but nothing else will change. Twitter and Instagram were once cute but have turned vicious, writes the comedian Nish Kumar

Nish Kumar

27, Jul, 2020 @5:02 PM

Article image
Stop doomscrolling! The 50 cheeriest social media accounts – from dancing academics to seal pups
Now more than ever we all need to sprinkle some happiness into our social media feeds. Here are the best accounts to follow, whether you love spectacular jelly creations or hilarious Japanese mascots

Stuart Heritage

15, Mar, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Instagram is my haven from rage-filled social media | Rebecca Nicholson
The photo-sharing site still offers moments of kindness – and we all need a slice of rainbow cake once in a while

Rebecca Nicholson

07, Mar, 2017 @4:24 PM

Article image
(((Echoes))): beating the far-right, two triple-brackets at a time
People are putting brackets round their Twitter handles in an attempt to subvert a far-right attempt to identify and harass Jews online

(((Zoe Williams)))

12, Jun, 2016 @9:00 AM

Article image
Ambridge Analytica: the spoof account that’s combine-harvesting data
The Twitter account is home to ‘big farmer’ jokes and Archers-inspired gags. Just don’t confuse it with Cambridge Analytica – or Oxford Analytica, for that matter

21, Mar, 2018 @5:41 PM