Despite the knee-jerk reaction to argue when older generations pass comment on what social media has done to the brains of Gen Z and Millennials, the fact is that it’s not entirely untrue: these are platforms that reward short attention spans and instant gratification, encouraging the creation of content that is for one-time use – never to be returned to again. And this pretty much runs counter to every notion of what makes good design.
Yes, a good sneaker or a good piece of apparel will be eye-catching in the first instance, but – beyond that – there will be a world of detail to explore in terms of texture, tone, and form; let alone things you can’t necessarily see, like engineering and material quality, which have to be communicated with some level of depth to be truly appreciated. And, while it may be cynical, it’s really not unreasonable to think that brands may start to de-prioritise these elements in favour of what stands out on first glance: this, after all, is not a one-way street – for brands to sell more through social media and to reap the rewards of a new commercial avenue, they will surely have to adapt to suit the ways in which those platforms already work.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Perhaps cooler heads will prevail – that does happen. (Sometimes. Apparently.) Social media really isn’t, inherently at least, the enemy of creativity. Or it doesn’t need to be, anway. As consumers – both of social content and of the products sold to us through those platforms – we need to play our part; to be mindful of the decisions that we make and think about the ways in which we’re being marketed to.
There’s nothing wrong with buying your sneakers through social media. Just make sure you’re still buying them for the right reasons. Hopefully those decisions will filter down – or make it up, as it were – to the people who matter.