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Social media overtaken by the desire to converse online

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Social media overtaken by the desire to converse online

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«Do you understand that we have to stop you? What you have on your back is a refrigerator.” A few days ago, English police officers ordered Daniel Fairbrother to stop. The man was running through Stevenage, a south London suburb, with a fridge on his shoulders and a huge QR code on the sides. Nothing illegal. Fairbrother was training for the London Marathon which offers ten thousand dollars. The young man wants to win it to help a friend of his who suffers from diabetes. The code allows you to access the Diabetes UK charity website to receive information and chat with volunteers.

Five billion active profiles

Ultimately, it is as if the internet with its digital consumption has entered every area of ​​daily life. Included in a marathon runner’s training. It’s no wonder. Today in the world we have exceeded the threshold of 5 billion active profiles on social media, equivalent to more than 62% of the world population and 72.8% of the Italian population. The global total increased by 266 million over the past year. An average of 8.4 new users per second. But what emerges from the photograph taken by We Are Social with the annual Digital 2024 research is even more relevant.

Chats surpass social media

We are witnessing the overtaking of a certain way of browsing: that conversational component linked to the adoption of chat is imposing itself compared to the traditional use of social media. Even video-centric entertainment platforms, led by TikTok, experience this obsession with constant dialogue. We constantly comment with private messages. Thus the showcase as a metric of vanity turns towards exchange and therefore towards a metric of utility. The New Yorker wrote it with an unequivocal headline: “The new era of chats”. In short, we converse more with limited audiences for consolidated circles and present ourselves less on the social stage.

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Lovari: «Relational, information and service needs»

«Chats and instant messaging applications are having great success because they respond to different and complex needs of connected audiences, from relational to informational ones, up to service ones, with a return of orality through voice and video calls . They make it possible to mitigate information overload, the intrusiveness of digital advertising and the toxicity of some public online spaces to inhabit more private relational niches, centered on the user, his consolidated circles and his needs”, states Alessandro Lovari, associate professor of sociology of cultural and communicative processes at the University of Cagliari and author of “Public Communication. Institutions, practices, platforms” for Mondadori Università.

It’s the boom in chat and messaging apps: today 94.7% of all users say they have used at least one of these services in the last thirty days. «Chats combine the private dimension of micro-conversations with the informational dimension of broadcast channels. In addition there is the less invasive presence of spaces for showcasing the self”, specifies Lovari. In reality, it is chats that have evolved over the years towards a model closer to that of social media, integrating some functions, but preserving their nature as conversation applications. «Users use them to manage their relational, personal and work dynamics. But this familiarity acquired in personal use has led to expectations also from a user-customer perspective towards organizations. Through chats, users expect conversations and services that social networks are not able to offer”, says Lovari.

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