“Most of my meals aren’t worth showing off. Most of the sunsets I see aren’t particularly brilliant. This is why Instagram first blew up, after all: its filters made our ordinary lives look extraordinary.” —Kyle VanHemert
In an always-connected world, how do we allow ourselves room for inspiration beyond the filtered, highly curated, and not-so-humble versions of the self as seen in social media and advertising? Information overload, media dissonance between story telling and story selling, and constant interruption is already motivating the public to seek a higher compelling way to render a moment in time—as more people are now brand and ad fatigued.
“Constant over-sharing is turning consumers away,” says media expert Laura Portwood-Stacer. For example, in the travel category, this oversharing seems to be encouraging a new trend of “secret holidays,” where people are choosing not to disclose their vacation plans because they fear the locations will become mainstream. Similarly, two French beaches have banned selfies: “The Garoupe beaches are among the most glamorous and pristine beaches in all of France,” a spokesperson for the beach told the Daily Mail. “We want people to be able to enjoy our exclusive beach at the moment, not spending the majority of their time bragging to their friends and family back home.”
At present, we see the impact of this phenomenon as a growing anti-curation movement, to avoid “filter-tunnel syndrome,” inspired by the idea of unfinished, unbranded, ongoing, in-progress, and spontaneous content. These ideas of unbranded, unfinished spontaneity are finding a persuasive voice across online connectivity—social networks, visual platforms, and apps. In 2018, we will see an increase of this yearning for the random and the ordinary, and for content that deviates from the norm. As the focus shifts from false humility to authentic humility, people and products will become less boastful and more culturally reflective. Centering on their unpolished, uncurated lives (as a reaction to the highly filtered), sharing rough ideas, encouraging collaboration, and reaching out in novel ways.
In an always-connected world, no longer at the mercy of advertisers, you are free to do what you want.
Some key cultural drivers:
Unfiltered: Airbnb hosts are using the word ugly (Ugly Green House, Ugly Pirate Getaway) to describe simple, odd homes for rent.
Unbranded: L’Oréal’s FAB, an online beauty publication that covers all-inclusive trends, including influencers, and also features competitor brands—the platform presents as an engagement tool versus a sales hub. “This is about neutrality, experience, and craft, not about a product destination—we have other places to do that,” says An Verhulst-Santos, president of L’Oréal professional products.
Unfinished: Thomas Brown’s Volume of Light is an ideal example of unfinished art. This project is a website gallery space featuring a series of images that can be adopted by the viewer. The prints are unnamed; when you adopt an image, you are required to assign it a title. Brown explains: “By making all 469 images available for adoption, VoL invites the viewer to collaborate with me. Adoption requires the viewer to volunteer a title; it’s very much my image and your title, together forever.”
Unexpected: Klydo (formerly Metadrift), a tech startup and AI-powered search tool that allows users to explore and discover content in a more random way. “Think of the enjoyment of “getting lost” on Wikipedia, but instead of clicking through bland web pages, you are exploring through videos embedded in beautifully curated virtual landscapes. Now throw VR into the mix, and you are looking at the future of online exploration and learning.” —Angel List
Photo: Jeannie Joshi