Post-Ego: OK COOL’s 2023 trend predictions
- 1. MICRO IS THE NEW MACRO
- 2. YOU + AI
- 3. PLUGGING INTO IRL
- 4. LOW INTERVENTION CONTENT
- 5. 2023 – POST EGOISM
One month into 2023 and our crystal balls are already full to bursting. Read on to learn how our cultural and behavioural mindsets are shifting in 2023, and what this will look like on the Internet.
1. MICRO IS THE NEW MACRO
In 2022, we saw our weariness of traditional macro influencers reach new heights… Molly-Mae’s 24 hours, anyone?!
While we can’t deny the power that macro influencers still hold, 2023 will see a widespread embrace of highly skilled, super niche, and diverse micro influencers. TikTok has ushered in a new era of edu-tainment, where individuals gain traction and consistent engagement for their ability to teach new skills and offer expert insight.
TikTok serves us content that taps into our specific and unique mix of hobbies and interests. Rather than taking macro influencers’ word as gospel – the true influence on what we buy, watch, and do will come from a personalised ecosystem of hyper-niche creators. This is paving a career path for diverse influencers with a breadth of experiences to share: older generations, farmers, bricklayers, doctors… In the economically unstable state, we find ourselves in, real-life skills seem to have more value now than the escapism of wasteful hauls and designer fit checks.
Boutique talent agencies such as Creative Ally evidence the demand we have for micro-influencers within super niche, engaged, online communities. They offer management and consultancy exclusively to purpose-driven creators, using social to inspire a positive change – a prediction of how we can expect to see the industry developing in the near future.
2. YOU + AI 💕 A match made in online heaven
2022 saw us lose our minds for AI generated imagery. The AI aesthetic – a hyper collage of consumed media all mashed up together – totally reflects the Gen Z ‘moodboard mindset’. It’s maximalist, janky and colourful. But projects like Dall-E, Chat GPT and Midjourney have been met with equal amounts of praise and criticism, raising questions about ever-evolving artificial intelligence and its place in society.
For every artist wrangling the technology to create mind blowing content there seemed to be an example of AI being used to achieve some ominous, dystopian end. There was even a trend of men entrapping unsuspecting people on dating apps, using completely AI-generated conversations and boasting the perfect formula to pull.
But looking into 2023, as AI technology becomes more and more accessible, we predict an influx of social movements warning against the dangers of AI and promoting ethical usage. We’re envisioning a shift towards using AI for the greater good, in ways that actively promote positive change.
Latent Space is already making tracks. It’s a community-focused project exploring the positive and negative impacts of AI on creativity through conversation, collaboration and experimentation.
Forward-thinking projects like Latent Space predict the way mainstream culture will be seeing AI going forward – harnessing it as a tool to overcome creative block and burnout: a tool to aid creativity. Think of the practical possibilities for creating concept art or storyboards, copywriting prompts, generating new TikTok sounds…
…And while that news sends a collective shudder down the spines of creatives worldwide, Carla Hendra, Global CEO of The Drum, writes about this topic with a great quote:
“What it [AI] can’t do is interpret that knowledge in ways to speak to us emotionally or persuasively, nor can it contextualise anything it presents with credibility.”
AI can reproduce knowledge, but it can’t engage us emotionally. Creativity does that.
3. PLUGGING INTO IRL
2022 was the year that the metaverse became mainstream.
…But will it last in 2023? We predict that there will be a return en masse to our chronically online, Web2 status. The last few years have seen the demand for unplugged experiences gaining traction, but in 2023 this will reach a head as we become oversaturated with metaverse hype, and head back to basics.
Digital rest-stops and ASMR escapes will no longer satisfy. We yearn to physically escape. According to Booking.com’s 2023 trend report, 44% of global travellers want their holidays to have a ‘back to basics’ feel with only the bare necessities, while 55% are looking for a totally ‘off grid’ holiday experience.
Our behavioural shift to reconnect with the human experience and step out of our digital avatars is reflected in the BetterHelp controversy, where users are exposing the dark side of the app.
Our behaviours are shifting away from relying on app-based services that seemed essential during the Covid pandemic. We’re discovering once again that the human void cannot be filled virtually, and we’re craving genuine human interaction now more than ever. Living through a digital version of ourselves 24/7 has left us fatigued, and the future of the metaverse is looking more nuanced than we initially thought.
True success for brands lies in learning how to combine physical and digital spaces, in ways that inspire and excite. The future is… phygital.
4. LOW INTERVENTION CONTENT
Last year we worshipped the photodump, which was a huge shift towards celebrating the messy and the blurry while exposing unfiltered versions of ourselves. This was in total contrast to the platform’s ‘traditional’ content; the perfectly curated portraits of the 2010s. We began to show ourselves through multiple layers, weaving inspo imagery and memes into our beloved carousel posts, full of both personality and self-indulgence.
Could our dedication to realness even mean the death of beautifying filters? We are already seeing an anti-beauty-filter movement emerge on TikTok, with creators opting to disable the automatic blurring and smoothing features, and calling out the damage they can do to our self perception.
Even Facetune, the brand that’s become a noun in its own right and is synonymous with our addiction to tweaking our bodies and faces, seems to be calling for its own downfall. Check out their comment on Kylie Jenner’s post…
So what will this shift look like as it plays out on social? It’s what we’re calling ‘Low Intervention Content’ — the next evolution of lo-fi. In 2023 we will see creators actively strive to post the rawest, unedited content possible, in a kind of post-ironic appreciation and comment on the state of social media. Trends like accentuating your dark circles and filming your own therapy session are just the tip of the iceberg.
Reality can never truly be represented through media, as Stuart Hall argued in his representation theory. But it’s fun to see people trying to do so, stuck in an endless loop of ‘authenticity’.
Expect to see: contrived livestream mishaps as a kind of performance art, paparazzi ‘candid’ concepts for campaign shoots, and now with the leap to 10-minute video limit on TikTok – rambling, unedited videos from creators who are striving to become the realest.
5. 2023…ONLINE EGO DEATH?
We were obsessed with the ‘2023 hot take predictions’ of late 2022 – a trend where creators made lists of all the ‘chronically online’ opinions they thought would become popular this year. See below. This trend really articulated a shift – fighting against the echo chamber of social media, where we use ‘hot takes’ to boost our own ego, and where ‘online social discourse’ becomes a parody of itself.
And for our trend predictions? A ‘back to basics’ approach to unplugging, self-reflective low intervention content, open-minded approach to AI and creativity, and niche micro influencers serving us a slice of real life, all point towards an altogether more wholesome and productive approach to social media in 2023. Could 2023 shift us firmly into, what we’re calling, Post Ego?
As Gen Alpha approaches the age to start leaving their own digital footprint, Gen Z are gaining power in the workforce. As we know, the first true digital natives have a totally different view on their usage of social media and the internet, having learnt from the mistakes of Millennials and Xennials. Growing up in such an economically and socially unstable world, their outlook is overall less selfish and more solution-oriented. Rather than the traditional new year’s resolutions revolving around losing weight, earning more money, being more productive, the New Gen are promoting holistic goals. Preaching kindness, manifesting peace of mind and celebrating small joys.
Looking ahead at this year’s trends, it is clear that now more than ever, Gen Z are using social to actively reject the more controversial sides of the internet (eg greenwashing, the myth of cancel culture and dangerous conspiracy theories), and tapping into using it to engage with true activism instead of virtue signalling.
We think 2023 is shaping up to be the year of Post Ego… What do you think?