the birth of instagram's child : threads 👩🏽🍼
a philosophical analysis of the new social media app that every one is raving about.
tuesday felt nostalgic. free. pure and childlike. the feeling that threads has created with their launch is the reason why although fundamentally it’s the same app as twitter, it hits a lil different. but why tho? in this newsletter, I connect the dots between my 3 favorite things : philosophy, creativity, and psychology to explain why 70 million people downloaded the app within the first week based off of a feeling.
Ryan O’Rourke - Design @ Threads
oh to be a kid again
threads was birthed as the very first child of social media, with Instagram being the momma. No other social media app has given birth to another app like this. ever. Pointing out this parallel first is crucial in the flow of my newsletter because It sets the stage and answers so many questions as to why everyone loves threads.
Think about the children in your life. Maybe it’s your niece. Maybe it’s a kid you tutor. Maybe it’s your own child. What they all have in common is this natural innocence, authenticity, and freedom in which they embody. Being in the presence of children or things that have a child-like essence remind us how important it is to be free, say what’s on your mind, and to find joy in simple moments. This “essence” is both mentally and emotionally attractive, especially to individuals who are older.
Because Threads is metaphorically the child of Instagram, the app was born with that child like essence. Just like we are captivated by the innocence, vulnerability, and freedom of children, we are drawn to the same possibilities and potential that’s offered by Threads. This psychological connection helps to explain the intrigue and positive reception that Threads has received over the past week as an innovative platform within the complex social media landscape. By using the app, that child like essence is automatically injected into your digital state of being.
give the UX team a raise. quickly. 🚀
signing up for anything is daunting af and the bane of my existence. the feeling of being forced and rushed to input information is irritating, which is why so many people (like myself) hate filling out forms - especially online. but why tho? you can thank the philosophical idea of existentialism and autonomy for this. both are concepts that prioritizes a person’s individual freedom and responsibility to create their own meaning and purpose. Filling out forms can be perceived as “anti - autonomous” because it puts constraint on your personal freedom due to you being required to provide specific information or conform to predefined structures. In the same breath, a person may experience frustration or a sense of wasted time when faced with lengthy or complex forms, especially if they are required to repeat the process for multiple platforms or services.
Those common pain points are the reason why UX (user experience) roles exist in the tech world. UX roles are creative super heroes, and their power lies in their ability to optimize the interaction between humans and digital products.
By connecting your Threads account to instagram, users are able to skip the daunting sign up process automatically making their first experience with the app a positive one, while giving them autonomy from the gate at the same time. You know how hard that is to do??? It’s hard because people hate being told what to do, but love the idea of getting help or assistance. This unique and rare approach by the threads UX team recognizes that users value both their independence in decision-making and the advantages that come from integrating their social networks across platforms.
no one likes losing 👎🏽
It doesn’t matter what it is. no one likes losing anything that is valuable to them. In 2015, my laptop got stolen out of my car along with my digital camera. I had so many files from childhood on there, and the pain of losing it all still haunts me to this day. So much so, that I feel like i have to document every moment of my life to “gain” or make up for all of the photos and videos that I will never get back. In psychology, this feeling is called “loss aversion” which is the tendency for people to feel the negative impact of losses more strongly than the positive impact of equivalent gains.
Threads tapped into this concept and remixed it to make something that I coin as digital loss aversion - a bias where people strongly prefer not to lose their progress in the digital world, like followers or connections over gaining new ones. DLA stems from the inherent attachment and perceived value individuals place on their digital presence and achievements.
By connecting Threads to existing Instagram accounts, users can retain their followers, friends, and connections without effort. This strategic move aligns with the philosophy that humans are intrinsically motivated by progress. Not to mention, it acknowledges the existential dilemma of starting from zero and the associated anxiety that feeling can evoke. Threads taps into this motivation and provides an avenue for users to continue building on their existing connections and experiences. This chess move positions Threads as more than just an app, but an extension of one’s social media journey and an exciting evolution instead of a complete restart. This is a win-win strategy that benefits users AND amplifies the growth and reach of Threads. This integration not only saves time, but it offers users an opportunity to embrace change, nurture connections, and transition into a new era of social networking.
When you look at it this way, it’s no wonder they are at 70 million users already.
r.i.p. to the “following ratio” ⚰️
i stopped caring about how many people i followed a long time ago, and i wish more people would stop caring as well. The decision to not show the number a user is following on the app is grounded in 2 principles that contribute to fostering an intimate feeling within the platform:
Reducing social pressure and comparison : On traditional social media platforms, the number of followers and followings can become a source of scrutiny and judgment. By hiding this metric, Threads creates a space where users can engage without the pressure to conform or compete based on the size of their network. This philosophy promotes a more supportive and accepting environment, fostering intimacy and reducing the need for comparison.
Privacy and Exclusivity: By not revealing who a user follows, users can feel more comfortable sharing personal content and engaging in conversations within a select group, promoting a more exclusive and confidential environment. The decision to hide these numbers challenge the reliance on external validation for one's self-worth.
Traditional social media platforms often foster a culture where individuals measure their value based on their “ratio”. Threads seeks to transcend this mindset by encouraging users to find value within themselves and their close relationships, instead of seeking validation through popularity metrics. This philosophy promotes self-acceptance, autonomy, and the pursuit of meaningful connections beyond the constraints of societal validation.
Through intentional design choices, such as prioritizing intimacy, efficiency, authenticity, and purposeful engagement, Threads has reimagined the traditional notions of social media. In a world that prioritizes quantity of quality, Threads embodies a philosophical shift. It recognizes the profound human need for intimacy, understanding, and genuine connection. As you navigate the app, I want you to think about how you can intentionally create something that has a similar feeling. Ask yourself questions like :
how can I add moments or tell stories that capture the essence of being a child in a way that creates an emotional connection between what I create and people?”
how can i create a sense of autonomy within my art?
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below in the comments. And thank you for subscribing. Until next time! for more of me and my brain, visit my website : donyetaylor.com oh and follow me on threads.