Social media has undoubtedly become a cornerstone for all social interactions, and a lot of times their differences and significance are a little obscure. This post will serve to provide my personal take on some of the biggest social influencers.
Disclaimer: I’m not an expert by any means, I haven’t conducted any studies, or researched data and I don’t know all the inner workings of social media development. Also this post was inspired by one that went viral a few weeks ago https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6
I have, however, experienced it in a way most experts of the previous generation haven’t. The majority of my social life has functioned with social media as a key component. But I remember the time when it wasn’t there. Honestly, who better to give an opinion on it than someone who has fueled its growth, development and success?
Let’s start with Facebook, which, in its essence is about convenient connecting. No longer is it a tool to improve social standing and establish hierarchy, as MySpace served to do. There’s no top 8 and it doesn’t matter how many friends you have. Instead it’s the new “can I have your phone number”, now expressed, as “I’ll add you on FB”. It’s personal enough to easily keep in contact yet impersonal enough to add people you’ve only met briefly, or more often than not have never met at all. On that note it’s also become a huge gateway for romantic courtship. [Look out for an article on technologies impact on romantic relationships, currently in construction.] If you don’t have a Facebook account, it throws our generation through the loop. How am I supposed to stalk you for basic information needed to make assumptions about you in order to determine if I want your friendship? How do I keep in contact and know more about your life? How do I invite you to gatherings and events? We’re skeptical about someone our age that doesn’t have a Facebook.
Instagram is much more exclusive. Followers and likes are everything. You post photos here to demonstrate how great your life is, how pretty you are, or to show off your amateur filtered photography and hipster view on life. My age group no longer takes the time to post all their cool photos and create new albums for it on FB, but instead consolidates that experience into one great photo on Instagram. This is our new place of social growth and competition. A like can insinuate so much more on Instagram than Facebook. Instagram likes can determine the quality of your photo and the experience it came from, they often serve as bragging rights. Compared to Facebook, Instagram is much more streamlined. When I follow someone, I don’t have to bog down my timeline with all the photos they’re tagged in, comments on their wall, and no app requests. There also is no annoying videos, advertisements, or political articles either. Also, my grandma isn’t on Instagram yet, so it’s still cool. (I love you grandma, I promise.)
Twitter is not as common as most may think. It’s as ambiguous as Pinterest for some, and most don’t see its differentiation from Facebook. This is rather ironic because Twitter was the pioneer of the hashtag, now a household term so big it’s present in every form of social media. Twitter has, however, become a huge platform for corporation-to-audience interaction. You can tweet at big companies like Nordstrom, Taco Bell, Disneyland, etc. and often receive a response. This has created huge brand loyalty and a great image for said companies. The same goes for celebrities. Basically you post a tweet, much like a Facebook status, maximum 140 characters, usually including hashtags, and your followers can ‘favorite’ or ‘retweet’ it. It’s nice because it’s socially acceptable to post however many tweets you like, unlike Facebook.
Snapchat seems to vary in its use. I feel like this is still a pretty undefined social media. Some add mass amounts of ‘friends’ and others only Snapchat a few close friends. Snapchat mainly serves to send quick pictures or videos to friends, with options to draw or type over the photo. It also allows you to post quick clips, either photos or videos, of your entire day, weekend, whatever you’d like, for everyone to see, easily keeping people updated. It times out after 24-hours so there’s a certain freedom, privacy and openness to it. It’s not as carefully refined and censored. No likes or comments. There has been concern about leaked Snapchats. But the majority of us aren’t sending nudes, just really ugly double chins. And if someone screenshots it, you’re notified! Most aren’t concerned that anyone cares enough about our Snapchats to leak them, if that’s even really possible.
Tumblr is a hidden Internet gem. Tumblr is a version of blogging mixed with social networking. It’s like Fight Club; you don’t talk about having a Tumblr. Things get weird there but it also hosts some of the most witty and revelational content I’ve ever seen. There’s a lack of identity but strong sense of personality and community. It’s mostly strangers; you don’t usually follow your friends or tell people you actually know to follow you on Tumblr.
Yik Yak is one you probably haven’t heard of if you don’t attend college. There are locational restrictions that don’t allow its use within a certain radius of a k-12 school. If you’re too close you’ll receive this message, “You appear to be using this too close to a school. Yik Yak is for adults only.” It’s a completely anonymous feed of posts, resembling tweets or status updates, which are location based. You can upvote or downvote the posts and comments, collaboratively filtering content; all of which contributes to your Yakarma, a point system that no one really knows what you’re supposed to do with. A lot of it is really relatable and hilarious, all geared towards fellow peers.
Obviously, the status of social media shifts as our grandmas adapt and we quickly move on. Different age groups and demographics are sure to host different opinions. I think we can all agree however, that life is a little more entertaining and much more accessible with social media.
P.s. Be sure to use social media safely! Putting too much of your personal information and checking in at locations near to home can possibly be dangerous, especially if your social profiles aren’t private.