Why Nostalgia Is Taking Center Stage On Social Media
As social media ages it is increasingly being used to seek out nostalgia, a new study reveals.
Despite being cutting edge and constantly changing, people who have been using it for the last decade post less new material and use it to look back on old times.
The team from Sweden’s University of Gothenburg and University West followed 11 social media users over a decade for the study, published in the journal Social Media + Society.
The team found that memories and nostalgia are now a significant part of our use of social media.
The study allowed users to describe and reflect on how they use the platforms to document and share their lives providing insight into the role of technology in reliving meaningful moments.
The participants were interviewed in 2012, 2017, and 2022. Ten years ago, approximately 1.4 billion people used social networks
Today, the estimated corresponding number is 4.7 billion people with more than 3.2 billion images and 720,000 hours of video shared daily.
Dr. Beata Jungselius, senior lecturer of informatics at University West said: “These types of studies help us look back and understand the culture as it was in the 2010s and 2020s when social media was a central part of it.
“Social media users engage in what we call ‘social media nostalgising’, meaning they actively seek out content that evokes feelings of nostalgia.”
Alexandra Weilenmann, professor of interaction design at the University of Gothenburg, said they described it as “treating themselves” to a nostalgia trip now and then.
She added: “Going back and remembering what has happened earlier in life becomes a bigger part of it over time than posting new content.
“The platforms often serve as diary-like tools that allow memories to be relived.”
And social media platforms seem aware of the trend as they introduce increasingly advanced features to help users interact with older content.
Personal, music-infused photo albums generated for us or reminders of pictures we posted on the same date one, three, or ten years ago allow for nostalgic experiences, which are often seen as positive.
The study describes how these features can lead to users reconnecting with old friends by “tagging” them in a shared memory.
The authors say they feel that the platforms do it on purpose to keep people engaged after they stop posting a lot of new content.
Dr. Jungselius added: “It’s only now that we’ve lived with social media long enough to make and draw conclusions from a study like this.
“Through our method of studying the same users over ten years, we’ve been able to follow how their usage and attitudes toward the platforms have changed as they have evolved.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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