For anyone over the age of 30, the sea of social posts showing identical members of the public sitting side by side on tubes, trains, stationary airplanes hanging in the sky and dogs moving ‘on a loop’ may seem confusing and somewhat banal. In fact, due to triage algorithms, they may not even see them at all. But the trend is so engrained, that one subreddit on this theme gets hundreds of reports each day, and #glitchinthematrix has 36.9K live posts on Insta as of today.
The ‘glitch in the Matrix’ trend sees Gen Z-ers posting visual ‘proof’ of a very particular belief system, that we are living in a simulated world (and along with that, a simulated world which makes mistakes). So much about this trend speaks to what we know about the Gen Z mindset – a preference for visual media as the ‘truest’ form of communication and a scepticism and challenge of the ‘old world order’. This is a trend with a transgressive, tech-based universe at its heart - which is both engaging and cruel in equal measures. Little wonder so many young people want to escape a world where ‘bad things happen’ and are seeking reasons for why those things happen at all. There is a strange nihilism to a worldview in which we are being run by (fallible) machines, but alongside this, the humour endemic to this trend and the ultimate desire to ‘beat the machine’ that runs alongside it suggests the human spirit prevails. Smart brands will think about how they can succeed in the digital universe with the ‘glitch in the Matrix’ in mind.
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