How Instagram is making jigsaw puzzles cool again - MIT Technology Review
So she does jigsaw puzzles, and vlogs about her passion on YouTube. As her digital persona Karen Puzzles, the 29-year-old reviews puzzles and provides puzzling tips for her 11,500 YouTube subscribers. Many say they like to have her videos on while they work. Her audience is tiny compared with that of bona fide YouTube stars—but it is growing, and she’s not alone.
Jigsaw puzzles are having a renaissance, thanks in part to two dueling phenomena: social media and, simultaneously, the urge to disconnect from it. Pop culture reflects the trend too: Miranda on the smash Netflix series The Circle spends her free time working through a jigsaw puzzle. Tobey Maguire is into competitive puzzling.
On Instagram, hashtags such as #puzzlelover #puzzlesofinstagram, and #puzzletime are amassing hundreds of thousands of views. On TikTok, videos tagged with #jigsawpuzzle have been watched more than 1.3 million times. Puzzlers boast about finishing puzzles that have thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of pieces. TikTok even has a series of videos where people triumphantly place the last puzzle piece in its place (often tagged #satisfying).
So why are young people now falling for puzzles?
“I think that puzzles provide an antidote to burnout,” says Emily Singer, a marketing manager whose newsletter, Chips and Dip, tracks digitally native brands and social trends. “They ask you to slow down, stop looking at a screen, and complete a concrete task.” Puzzles are replacing adult coloring books in this respect, she suggests.
J’aime beaucoup cette idée que les puzzles doivent devenir « instagrammables »
Jiggy is just one of a number of startups capitalizing on the trend. For example, Piecework Puzzles makes jigsaws that are highly filtered, cheeky, and purposefully shot to look good when they appear on Instagram. They come in silky boxes that could easily be mistaken for a coffee-table book. One of the startup’s founders, Rachel Hochhauser, discovered puzzling after she decided to seclude herself in a rented cabin to ease her own burnout.
The Instagram aesthetic is also helping to push the boundaries of what a puzzle can be, with firms introducing gradient puzzles and landscapes that pop off the board. The past holiday season brought three-dimensional puzzles, color-changing elements, even dual-sided puzzles, perfect for showing off on the app.
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