In 2014 the old trend of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, i.e. youngsters continuously wanting to stay informed about everything through social networks and mobile phones) will be replaced by “cloaking”. Youngsters will create an increasing number of private pages or closed groups on Facebook or on other channels (e.g. the more anonymous Tumblr or Snapchat) to protect their content from the main audience. “I am what I share” is still valid for the Millennials but they will become more aware of who can see what. In 2013 Gen Y was swamped by the NSA eavesdropping scandals and Edward Snowden, the whistleblower, was voted man of the year by several magazines and newspapers. These facts make youngsters think about what they drop online which could indeed possibly end up in the wrong hands, be it the government or someone closer to home: teachers, possible employers or ex-partners.
There are four possible cloaking channels for youngsters:
De-facing means you replace your profile picture on social networks by anonymous pictures, masks and so on. The idea of anonymity by de-facing was totally present in 2013 in the fashion world: Maison Martin Margiela – since 2002 part of the OTB holding of Diesel’s Renzo Rosso – used masked models on the catwalk and designed masks for, amongst others, Bjork and Kanye West.
The #UNSELFIE also appeared late 2013 as a reaction to the overly popular #selfie photography. The unselfie focuses on a message, a worthy cause. It no longer is about what we look like but about what we stand for. For the socially engaged Millennials (see also #movember and #givingtuesday) and who expect a broader point of view from brands in society, this could definitely become a new trend in 2014.
Late October last year Facebook had to admit for the very first time that the number of youngsters using the social network site seems to be decreasing. According to PEW research (June 2013) a mere 26% of the US Millennials trust the government, compared to 44% in 2004. Gen Y thinks there is less to commercial organizations using the details they posted in order to improve their offer and to get something in exchange than to the government using their details, because of security reasons. The ‘Stop Watching Us’ campaign started by Firefox in 2013 collected more than 588,000 signatures.
Deleting is the new default. Every day more pictures are shared on SnapChat (400 million) than on Facebook (350 million). So the question is: how is Facebook dealing with this new trend? The company recently bought Instagram when it became clear that an increasing number of youngsters prefer sharing pictures on Instagram, but SnapChat refused Facebook’s $3 billion offer late last year.
4. The dark web
Edward Snowden used the anonymity network Tor to send his information to The Guardian and The Washington Post. Websites which allow anonymous surfing, chatting or searching keep gaining in popularity among Millennials. For example, after exposure of the NSA scandal, DuckDuckGo.com suddenly gets more than 3 million searches a day, an impressive increase compared with the 1.8 million the month before. Cryptocat – an allowing to surf directly from your browser in an encrypted environment – got the youth’s attention after a tweet by developer Nadim Kobeissi about his being questioned by the US Homeland Security Department. So-called crypto parties are even organized, where youngsters explain each other how to do things anonymously online. The initiator of these crypto parties is supposed to be the in Melbourne residing The Guardian journalist @Asher_Wolf.
Discover 4 other consumer trends in our 5 Paradoxical Consumer Trends paper: