New tweaks to Instagram Reels are pushing it further into the repetitive rut that's made scrolling TikTok insufferable
- Meta announced that it's adding new features to its Instagram Reels templates this week.
- New templates will make it easier to make content, but it'll also increase the likelihood that content looks the same.
On Tuesday, Meta announced new updates to Instagram Reels that'll simplify using templates and make it easier to reuse elements from other people's reels. The updates are meant to make it easier to "create engaging reels," per the post, but it could have the unintended consequence of making people's feeds monotonous — more repetition and template-based content has turned competitor TikTok's main feed into an unappealing slush of content.
Insider reported in April that Instagram was testing its templates feature with a small group of users. Templates lower the bar to create videos, making it easier to make your own content while using an existing format. Tuesday's announced updates will make it easier to find trending or saved templates in a new browser, use templates that you see while scrolling, and add text and transitions that were used in the original reel when you use a template.
In essence: it's going to be easier to find and use templates, and as The Verge's Mia Sato noted, that's probably going to make things a lot more repetitive when you're scrolling.
TikTok — also known as the short-form video app that Instagram Reels is a clone of — has templates as well. Located in the app's video creation center, they allow users to sync photos to music. The platform's integration with video editing software CapCut, however, has made it so easy to make videos for certain trends (like this one using clips from the anime film "Akira") to the extent that people make jokes about them taking over their entire For You Page.
Trending audio, a cornerstone of both TikTok and Reels, is one thing. But templates can make the scrolling experience worse: it's one thing to hear the same sounds over and over again, but seeing the same clips, transitions, or graphics video is, put simply, extraordinarily boring. In its early days, TikTok used to be a bastion of creativity, where people would stage elaborate videos that showed toilet papers rolling like Chef Boyardee cans or skits set to chopped up, nonsensical Billie Eilish lyrics. That kind of content still exists on TikTok — but amid the churn of low-lift videos, it feels much more difficult to find.
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