Bookmark: "The Era of Antisocial Social Media"

Sebastian Greger


The core thesis of this article is that young people have started to move away from the big social media, withdrawing into more private spaces for their digital social interactions. It’s a handy categorization of non- (or not-yet-?) mainstream practices by which individuals and communities counteract assumed trends to provide technology the place in their lives they see appropriate:

When you look at who is — and more importantly, who is not — driving the growth and popularity of social platforms, a key demographic appears to be somewhat in retreat: young people. They’re craving privacy, safety, and a respite from the throngs of people on social platforms (throngs that now usually include their parents), and gravitating toward more intimate destinations. The author has dubbed these “digital campfires.” She outlines three kinds of campfires, including the characteristics of each, as well as how brands are successfully reaching these audiences.

While the author’s declared goal is to provide marketers with ways to reach into these spheres for placing their brands, I am more drawn to her three “categories of digital campfires” as evidence that certain practices of non-use are relevant enough for marketers to get interested.

The proposed categories are:

  • Private Messaging Campfires (“Private or small-group messaging — usually but not always with one’s real-life friends — is the primary purpose for gathering”)
  • Micro-Community Campfires (“Primarily interactive private or semi-private forums where people gather around interests, beliefs, or passions”)
  • Shared Experience Campfires (“Private or public forums where participating in a shared experience — often around a specific shared interest — with a like-minded community is the primary purpose for gathering”)

Do people really want to withdraw into more private spaces to then be exposed to marketing in private rather than in public – I am not sure about that, but that’s an entirely different discussion to start with. But the concept of “antisocial social media”, and having it represented in the Harvard Business Review, is noteworthy enough when considering conscious technology non-use.