“If social media can feel like a crowded airport terminal where everyone is allowed, but no one feels particularly excited to be there, Digital Campfires offer a more intimate oasis where smaller groups of people are excited to gather around shared interests.” This is Sara Wilson’s definition of the micro-communities within social media which we have created to connect with our actual friends as opposed to the wider more performative and public spaces of the internet, full of people we would like the photos of, but avoid eye contact with on the street.
Examples of these Digital Campfires could include private stories, forums, group chats, and more recently BeReal; a new daily photo uploading platform which people – for now at least – tend to reserve for their closest network of friends, due to its intimate and candid nature.
A recent survey commissioned by Whistle Punks found that Gen Zs spend more time speaking to their friends on social media than in person, which makes a lot of sense to me, as someone who knows what their best friend had for dinner every day this week but hasn’t seen them yet this year. I’m by no means suggesting that we need to spend more time on our phones and less in person, but as a generation who tend to spread themselves far and wide due to reliance on social media to keep your friends close, there is a growing importance to find these spaces, and protect them for you and your closest friends. Keep that group chat active, let your private areas of social media be full of only your closest friends, and that way, you can reserve a space online for the unfiltered version of yourself.
Keep your fires stoked and separate them from your airport terminals. Fire in an airport is bad news both inside and out of this metaphor, the stability of which I feel may be wearing a bit thin, so I’ll leave it at this; happy International Day of Friendship, keep your friends close and your best friends around the fire.