I’m Emilee, I’m Canadian, and I’m 20. I use a lot of social media. For me it’s Facebook, then Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, that’s my routine. For the last few weeks I have been exploring social media, in a way that’s more than just checking out the latest pictures the Kardashians have posted on Instagram. On a Podium assignment I went to a secondary school in London to talk to 15 and 16 year olds about the growing social media platforms, and what is “in” right now. Less than 30 minutes later I have never felt so old in my life.
Most kids are using Snapchat, and Instagram as I expected, but there was no mention of Facebook? Most of them didn’t even have a Facebook account, let alone check it every couple of hours. Is Facebook dying? When I think of Facebook I think of it as a way to stay social with my friends and family, and keep up to date on current events… So how are these kids staying relevant?
More than half of the students all check Youtube on a daily basis and it’s one of the first things they open in the morning, they spend a lot of their time watching their favourite YouTubers talk about specific topics. Maybe it’s because I have never understood Youtubers, and I don’t quite understand how people can sit and watch 10 mins of somebody putting makeup on, or describing their morning routines.
YouTubers are becoming celebrities, I listened to these kids name these channels, and YouTubers that they idolize, and I had no idea who they were… I know Youtube, I occasionally spend time watching band interviews, or funny videos of people falling down the stairs, but I have never thought Youtube would become one of the main social media platforms for young people. Their explanations were simple, they are visual people, and they enjoy watching something instead of reading.
So how are young people staying in contact with each another? I usually Facebook message, text, or iMessage… Whatsapp is something that has astounded me during my time here, old and young people are using this messaging app all the time, and are surprised to know that I don’t have it or, even know what it is… I have come to the conclusion it’s not just me that doesn’t use it, my fellow Canadians back home don’t use it either… Skype was another popular use of communication, a easy and free way to call, or message your friends. These kids don’t need a data plan, they just need a smart phone and wifi.
I like to think that I am still quite young and up to date with most things, but this experience totally changed my perspective. Every generation seems to bring in a new wave of social media. How are people supposed to keep up, and stay ahead? Social media has turned into more of a popularity game, the more platforms you have, the more hip you are. It’s like getting a new stylish handbag that you love, and then 4 months later it’s gone out of style, and you are on to the next one. It’s already a chore keeping all your platforms up to date, making sure you are posting every couple days on Instagram, or updating your Snapchat story, but keeping up with all the new apps, that’s another challenge.
It all seems overwhelming really, I had thought I was hip, and cool until I was schooled by kids not much younger than me… My journey with social media has just begun, and I am looking to the kids at local secondary schools across London to help me along the way, to keep me hip and cool.