Introduction with numbers

The social media impact is undeniable in today’s world. It has the power to connect strangers; to create intense positive or negative feelings through many different types of content & to bring awareness. Its impact is can also be professional: the platforms are now used to create business and for companies to expand their brand name by using advertising and other forms of communication. It has the power to create trends as the users are counted in billions in 2019. Finally, it can be a way to escape through creating your virtual reality. Through social media, people get to create a “digital image” that will be shared with other users which reflects the best parts of their lifestyle. Our goal is to talk about all the impacts by reflecting on our personal experiences and knowledge to try to bring awareness and most importantly to listen and discuss readers’ opinions.


In 2019, Social Media it is …

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is a8657336-f082-46ec-8236-c1c1b5f6919b.jpg
  • In the world there is a total of 3.499 billion social media users (as of May 2019)
  • People have on average 7.6 social media accounts
  • A user spends on average 142 minutes a day on social media a day.
  • Business: 91% of lucrative brands use 2 or more social media platforms 
  • Messenger and WhatsApp handle 60 billion messages a day
  • 74 billion dollars was spent on social network advertising in 2018 

The top 5 most used:

Facebook: 2,4 billion users

WhatsApp: 1.6 billion users 

WeChat: 1.1 Billion users

Instagram: 1 billion users  

LinkedIn: 546 million users 

TED-Talk

In her TED TALK, Sherry Turkle brings out the importance of face to face communication in a digital world where people would rather text than talk and where being alone feels like a problem to be solved.

“Technology gives us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship” 

In their TED TALK, Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu discuss the trade-off between convenience and privacy in a connected digital world. They believe that everyone is not willing to participate in market research, just because the device that was bought has a Wi-Fi connection.

“We need the companies to rethink the design of these devices with our privacy in mind”


Kanye West’s Digital Impact

    Few artists have had an influence on music than the way Kanye West has on rap. The Chicago native is tied for the most Grammy awards ever by a rap artist with legendary rapper Jay-Z, and has sold millions and millions of copies of his albums and records. However, in more recent years, West has been known for his role in pop culture. Most prominently he married reality TV star Kim Kardashian, and additionally he has developed a controversial presence on the social media platforms Twitter and Instagram. From commentary on various political issues in response to critics and fellow rappers to promotion of his Yeezy brand, West’s towering social media presence is undeniable. With that said, West uses his social media presence primarily for sparking political controversy, promoting his products, and sharing details of his own personal life.

Kanye West on Twitter

    West’s Twitter activity is the main reason he’s such a controversial figure in today’s times. One major use of his Twitter account is to express his political opinions. Amid the Black Lives Matter movement and the Colin Kaepernick NFL protests, many rappers have voiced their displeasure with the institutionalized racism they see and denounced President Donald Trump as a racist. West, however, praised Trump in several tweets, including calling him “[his] brother” (Abramson, 2018). Trump heavily criticized BLM and Kaepernick in the past, likely why his approval rating among African Americans is at 3% (Abramson, 2018), and why the support from West, an African American, is so controversial. The admiration was reciprocated when Trump responded in a tweet reading “Thank you Kanye, very cool!” (Abramson, 2018), further garnering displeasure for West among the African American community. Another controversial idea West brought up on Twitter was when he suggested in a tweet that “we abolish the 13th amendment” (Flynn, 2018). Considering that the 13th amendment is the amendment that abolished slavery after the Civil War, many Americans– most prominently African Americans– were outraged at this sentiment coming from such a well known African American figure. Although it was later speculated that West was referring to the Exception Clause, which “literally allowed slavery and involuntary servitude to continue across the country, on plantations and within the barbed-wire fences of prisons” (Flynn, 2018), the strong deviant stance on a highly sensitive topic rubbed many the wrong way, nonetheless. West’s second major use of Twitter is to promote products from his brand, Yeezy. Recently, West announced on Twitter that he would be developing “his first-ever Yeezy basketball sneaker on the feet of Adidas athletes during the upcoming NBA season” (DePaula, 2018). By projecting this message to his tens of millions of Twitter followers, West is mass marketing his product to consumers who would be more likely to purchase his product, considering they chose to follow him on Twitter. West also announced that “the Yeezy’s will be made in America” (DePaula, 2018) as an additional marketing strategy to his followers, the majority of whom are American. 

Kanye West on Instagram

    On Instagram, Kanye West offers a different presence than he does Twitter. Unlike his Twitter usage, Kanye’s instagram activity is less political and is more focused on his personal life. In a stream of several video posts on Instagram, Kanye responded to several public figures who he felt wronged him. These figures included Drake and Nick Cannon, and his grudges with both of them centered around a lyric in Drake’s song “In My Feelings”, which possibly insinuated that Drake had sex with Kanye’s wife, Kim Kardashian. In an interview, Cannon, who previously dated Kardashian, suggested that the lyric did indeed mean that Drake and Kardashian had an affair. West responded in the Instagram video, telling Cannon to not “be making no suggestions like nobody f***ed [his] wife” (Vultaggio, 2018). Later in the video, West took aim at Drake, saying that the lyric “don’t sit well with [his] spirit” (Vultaggio, 2018). Shortly after the posts, “West’s videos garnered more than 270,000 views and thousands of comments” (Vultaggio, 2018). In stark contrast to West’s Twitter activity, his Instagram activity shows a more personal and relatable side of him, which is likely why the Instagram videos were more well received by the general public than his tweets. However, similarly to Twitter, West promotes his Yeezy products on Instagram as well. In an attempt to reach a different audience than is reached by  Twitter, West advertised the Yeezy basketball shoes on his Instagram feed recently, as well as several other products. 

The Future for Kanye on Social Media

    Interestingly, West recently deleted both his Twitter and Instagram accounts, the second time in eighteen months he has done so. There is speculation that the action came in the wake of his appearance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”, where “he donned a red “Make America Great Again” hat and launched into a rambling rant in defense of President Donald Trump” (Willis, 2018), sparking backlash from many in pop culture. Although West may be stepping away from social media for the time being, the effects of his social media activity are still widely felt. Between his bold political comments, personal life statements and Yeezy advertisements, West’s presence on social media, deleted or not, looms large in today’s culture.

Works Cited:

Abramson, A. (2018, April 25). Kanye West Calls Supports Donald Trump in Series of Tweets. Retrieved from http://time.com/5254664/kanye-west-supports-donald-trump-twitter/

DePaula, N. (2018, October 02). Kanye West’s first Adidas Yeezy basketball shoe would be banned, sources say. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/24863891/kanye-west-adidas-yeezy-basketball-shoe-likely-banned-reflective-detail

Flynn, M. (2018, October 01). Kanye West’s baffling 13th Amendment Twitter outburst: Maybe not so baffling after all. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/10/01/kanye-wests-baffling-13th-amendment-twitter-outburst-maybe-not-so-baffling-after-all/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f93c50e09d5b

Vultaggio, M. (2018, September 20). Kanye West slams Drake on Instagram for hinting he had sex with Kim Kardashian on ‘In My Feelings’. Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/kanye-west-drake-kim-kardashian-instagram-sunken-place-1131685

Willis, K. (2018, October 07). Kanye West quits social media (again), after Trump rant and inflammatory slavery remarks. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2018/10/07/kanye-west-quits-twitter-again-after-trump-rant-slavery-remarks/1559093002/

The “Snapchat” Magnet

After an overuse of Snapchat for the past few years of my life, I decided to delete the application to observe my behavior when lacking the social media platform.

Before we begin, what is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a social media application created in July 2011 that now has over 190 million users worldwide. The platform allows its users to share pictures and videos via a visible “story” for 24 hours but the most enticing to users is the ability to send privately to the people of your choosing text messages, vocal messages, images and videos that will disappear after a short period. The initial version of the app would only allow the users to see the photos, the most popular type of messages, for 10 seconds (which can now be modified, thanks to the recent update). Every “snapchat” sent and received will count towards your score. Finally, the magical touch that makes Snapchat unique is “the streak”. This odd concept created by the 3 formers Sandford students starts when 2 people communicate for more than 3 days in a row via any type of messages. A number will show up next to the users’ names which will increase by one for every day they communicate within the same 24 hour period. On top of being addictive due to its fun concept of sharing content digitally without saving it, the streak is for many the main reason why they why they utilize this application. As of today, the company is valued at more than 18 Billion dollars.

Some personal insight:
· Today I spend about 1 hour/day on Snapchat on average (a lot less than what I used to in 2016/2017)
· I pick up my phone to look at Snapchat 30 times/day on average.
· My Snapchat “score” is over one Million.
· My biggest “streaks” are around 700 days.

I would also like to specify to the French readers that the social norms around Snapchat are different in North America compared to Europe. The users have different expectations from the platform and behave differently when using the app.
(Coming soon “Cultural differences in platform usage”)

Why do younger people use Snapchat?

According to Snapchat Inc., in the USA, the platform reached, “90% of all 13-24-year-olds” and “75 percent of all 13-34-year-olds”. Another interesting fact is that users older than 25 visit Snapchat approximately 8 less times a day (12 times per day), than younger users (20 times per day). 

So, can we conclude that as we get older, Snapchat becomes less attractive? I believe so.

Snapchat is a great way to expand your circle while still having protection: your devices’ screen. Sending a “snap” to someone is easier than going up to the person in real life to have a face to face conversation. It gives users the best chances to show their best selves. In today’s society, especially in the teenage community people “would rather text than talk” according to the cultural analyst Sherry Turkle. The reason behind this comfort of texting is that users can control every aspect of that virtual conversation.

By using the platform regularly, users get to create what I call a “digital image” that others see via “story” or daily communication to maintain their “streaks”. Users have near limitless options when creating their digital persona. Options range from astonishing filters, videos, and images of only the best moments in their day. What it essentially does is allowing users to create an avatar of themselves self which they will only be made of superficial but perfect criteria.

Another reason why it is so popular within the teenager community is that society promotes the use of the platform. The idea of having the best digital image possible on Snapchat (looking the best, doing lots of fun activities or having the longest streaks with most people) is perceived as a success for many. For some users, it becomes a competition of who has the best (digital) life.

Finally, deeper down, I believe that Snapchat is a necessity for young people as it was for me because it helps with self-esteem in the short term. It simply facilitates conversation and as a result, allows the users to communicate with more people. It brings a feeling of comfort to be able to connect with a larger crowd. Furthermore, it creates a sense of importance by digitally being a part of someone else’s day through the sharing of “snaps”.

The hidden impacts

I recently realized that my usage of the application wasn’t healthy. I communicated on Snapchat with people I didn’t talk to in real life; it impacted my mood drastically and I cared so much about staying in touch virtually with other users that I asked friends to log in on the platform to maintain my own “streaks” when I wasn’t able to connect in a 24 hours interval. Spending roughly one hour on the application was also one of my problems; its concept is once again very addictive and time-consuming. It was a cycle. I would wake up every day to the many snaps of my friends sharing the uneventful events they were going through via images and videos. As of my responses; they would be textless selfies to stay in virtual contact.

I like to think about one of all adults’ favorite sentence “put your phone away”. Being on Snapchat takes away the pleasure of “living in the moment” and enjoying the full potential of the event currently taking place. We have all seen the smartphones up in the air recording a concert, or the guests recording the “Happy Birthday” song at a party, etc. It becomes a competition of who will have the “coolest” videos or images to associate with their digital image. In these moments, my digital image was more important than my favorite singer in concert performing right in front of me or even more important than my sister’s 9th birthday …

The last impact I want to discuss is how Snapchat isn’t a true reflection of reality which can alter people’s self-esteem if they aren’t constantly aware of that matter. By only displaying what the user desires, his or her full reality isn’t shown to others on the platform. Seeing daily reminders of how much others have fun or how they look the best, for some users, it negatively affects their self-esteem. It can also create anxiety, this perfect but altered reality on Snapchat becomes a standard that can be stressful to keep up with. A side effect of the overuse of the platform I believe became more present in the teenage community in recent years is the “FOMO”: the Fear of Missing Out. This medical condition comes from the anxiety that something better might be happening elsewhere and without you. So as a result, the user stays connected for an extended period of time to make sure he or she doesn’t “miss out on anything”. According to a survey conducted by MyLife.com, 56% of people are afraid of missing out on events, news and important status updates if they are away from social networks.

Living without Snapchat

Yes, it is possible.

The cycle of having Snapchat being a part of your daily routine is inconceivably hard to break. I decided to log out of the platform but to maintain the app on my phone to observe the number of times I would click on it as a reflex. Without any notification coming in from the app or a need to communicate with someone in particular, I still clicked on the icon about 5 to 8 times/day. My subconscious was drawn to this yellow logo even though I knew I wasn’t logged in.

Maybe one or two days after I decided to stop using the platform I even received a text message asking me, and I quote: “Are you ok? Why don’t you snap anymore?”. The routine of keeping up with streak had become my only way of communication with some of my friends to the point that it would be considered abnormal if I did not reply. It had become a necessity for some of my friends to be informed of what my daily adventures were.
The absence of the platform gave me more time for other projects, like writing this article for example. It allowed me to spin out of the daily selfies and pictures sent that I would categorize as a “divulgence of information” rather than conversations. It also enabled me to communicate only when I had the desire to. I wasn’t obligated to share any part of my day or to communicate with someone to keep a streak going. This freedom was a relief.

Finally, I felt lonelier. First I felt alone not receiving constant notifications on my phone of people sharing content until I embraced it. I realized that being alone is not a problem to be solved. I comprehended that when by yourself it is not a necessity to be connected digitally.

My conclusion

Snapchat is an amazing platform with the potential to bring people together. It is a revolutionary concept that reflects the increase of digitalization in our society. People should use the app to socialize.

I would recommend any users to think about the way they utilize the platform and would advise them to stay in control. Users need to value the quality of the connections they have with each other rather than the number of connections that can easily become superficials. The decisions we make regarding Snapchat have repercussions in our everyday life, and the negative impacts are not always simple to recognize.


Sources: snap.com / gobankingrates.com /prnewswire.com  

Who and Why ?

I am a French 19 years old student broadly interested in the power & impact of digital technology as I finally decided to take initiatives on the matter by creating this platform.

With an international team of authors located in North America and Europe, we decided to share our personal beliefs while always being open for conversation through any topics we cover. While being specialized in different topics, we mainly speak on behalf of young people between the age of 15 to 25. Finally, our experiences are personal and don’t apply to everyone; once again we do them for self-knowledge but the reason we share them on the platform is for conversation

The pieces of information on “The Power of Our Digital World” are written by students but are read by everyone.