Social media limitations breed more creative humans.


An interesting trend, common in popular social media is the introduction of creative limitations. Snapchat, Vine and even Twitter have limitations on how the user publishes content. Normally, a limitation would become a downside the functionality of the platform but these apps have proven to be incredibly successful despite the limitations. The internet has given users infinite possibilities, but these social media applications have restricted their users either by 140 character limits, disappearing photos and only six seconds of video footage. So what other creative limitations can be restricted to encourage new and more innovative creativity.

Twitter, one of the largest social media platforms, holding more than 288 million monthly users has a character limit of 140 characters, making all posts incredibly succinct and direct. This however has not stopped people from using its structure to create funny, interesting and creative posts. Some people who use Twitter might not see this limitation as even slightly restrictive if you consider the amount of screaming One Direction fans who struggle to form a coherent sentence about any other subject, let alone develop the fine motor skills to type 140 characters.

Aside from that, Snapchat with 100 million monthly users as of august 2014 and sitting at a value of 10 million dollars, now a very popular app used by young adults, deletes the shared content after 10 seconds or less. This has introduced a new generation of selfies, where the value of being photogenic can be ignored and generally the more grotesque or ugly they are, the better. Photo applications like Instagram, Flickr and even Facebook are places for photos and digital photo albums, usually tailored to appear as idealistic as possible. Snapchat changed how photos and images were shared, giving self-confidence to those who are as photogenic as a foot made from paper mache and play-dough.

Vine, another popular video sharing application that takes the video medium so commonly associated with YouTube, and brings that down to only six seconds. This spawned a wave of ingenious six-second-comedy that’s become a viral phenomenon on the internet. Six seconds is short in the grand scheme of the existence of the known universe, but it has created a breed of content creators who have adapted to the conditions and will soon spread the superior smack-cam genes.

These limitations have not in any way limited the creativity of its users but has created a new super species of creative humans who have adapted to the selective pressures of the social media environment. It makes me think what else can be taken away from us to force the human genome toward an elevated level of creativity. When McDonald’s increased the price of small fries from $1 to $1.90, the socioeconomic impact on the abundance of loose change found in car cup holders forced the tactical recalculation of drive-thu orders in a generation of high school drop-outs, increasing the state average of general maths 2. If this is possible, then the next limitation on our social media could alter the evolution of humankind.

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