Growing Up on Likes

I enrolled in Social Media & Digital Business because the topic fascinates me incredibly. I’m an undergraduate student studying entrepreneurship and marketing, and I hope to work in fields that involve both social media and digital business. Aside from that, it’s also one of the most relevant classes anyone could take in today’s day and age.

We are the generation that has grown up with social media. In elementary school, it was chatting AIM buddies and listing your best friends’ initials on your profile. In middle school, it was choosing the theme for your Myspace and which song would play when someone visited your page.

Who could forget everyone’s first Myspace friend?

In high school, Facebook reigned supreme and your profile picture was of vital importance. Towards the end of high school, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram became the preferred networks.

Today, the main apps my peers and I care the most about is Instagram and Snapchat. Twitter has fallen off the map– and despite their rebranding efforts as a music destination, regaining widespread appeal remains a dubious feat. Facebook is still used daily and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. However, it’s purpose has completely changed. Newsfeed articles/videos, events, and messenger are it’s primary functions for our generation nowadays. Some people still post albums, but to a much lesser degree.

The apps that my generation spends a ridiculous amount of time on are Snapchat and Instagram. They have completely changed how we live life, as scary as that sounds. It is now completely inconceivable to experience anything worth sharing without posting it on at least one of those two networks. Every concert, every sunset, every party, and every good meal must be documented and shared.

“Pics or it didn’t happen”

Most millennials will agree that our addiction to social media has gotten out of hand, but will then continue to scroll through their Insta feed. And I have totally been sucked in too! My Instagram is a prime example of that addiction. I spend countless hours ensuring that every picture is perfectly edited, filtered, and then posted in the right order to ensure that my “grid” looks good (Shameless plug: @ericgesuale). I actually pushed off getting an Instagram until my sophomore year of college for the sole reason that I knew I’d be obsessed with it.

Like most people, I have very mixed feelings on the rise of social media. There are so many pros and cons to the different aspects of it, I think that the best way to make sense of it all in my head would be a table. I’m choosing to focus mostly on Snapchat and Instagram, because they are the most relevant to my peers and me. (This is by no means a comprehensive list of the pros and cons, just a brainstorming starting point.)


Benefit Detriment
Memory Preservation Social media is a fantastic way to preserve memories. The incentive to get a good Instagram naturally leads to fantastic photos from the events and activities one participates in. I am able to scroll through my Instagram and take a walk down memory lane. Snapchatting your life becomes even more immersive with Snapchat memories. You quite literally tap through videos taken from your point-of-view, and it feels like you’re re-living those moments. It’s easy to get caught up in getting the “perfect” Insta or a good Snap, that experiencing the moment as it happens has become of secondary importance. Go to a concert and it’s a sea of lit up phones. I am completely guilty of having spent more time on trying to get a good picture from an event than just living in the moment and not worrying about capturing it perfectly.
Connections Social media allows me to stay connected to people that I normally wouldn’t talk or text on the day-to-day. I can keep up with their life and experiences easily, commenting when I want to express my admiration. Responding to someone’s Snap story of a good piece of pizza can easily turn into a conversation of “Omg imu when are you going home for break??” I follow over 900 people on Instagram, and don’t truly care about more than half of the people I follow. The same goes for my friends on Snapchat. It is probably not a beneficial things to be so intimately involved in peoples’ lives that you don’t care about.
Learning Whether it be politics, current events, restaurant recommendations, celebrity news, etc, it is very easy to stay up to date on social media. Snapchat has integrated channels from more than a dozen news organizations that provide interactive and shareable news stories. Instagram feeds are full of information as well. I have learned about a ton of cool events and experiences from other people sharing theirs. A lot of the information that is consumed is in a form that does not properly reflect the news at hand. News is condensed to fit social media’s time standards (with the exception of a few Snap channels). Memes, tweets, and opinionated posts can only relay so much information. It is still definitely necessary to keep up with the news in other ways. In addition, social media can hype things up that otherwise don’t deserve the praise. I’ve gone to restaurants because they’re “trendy” to go to and Instagram, but then have been disappointed by my experience there. 
Business Engagement Social media has helped many businesses because customers are able to share their experiences, allowing others to see where they experienced that acai or poke bowl. Businesses are also able to engage with their customers and fans, maintain a brand presence online, and respond to customer feedback. Social media has made it hard for businesses to recover after making a mistake. For example, Chipotle and United Airlines have had trouble making customers forget their blunders, because they were scrutinized and laughed at so intensely on social media following their missteps.


  1. m_thompson19 · ·

    I really liked this idea on diving into how our generation “grew up on likes.” I even talked about it in my blog post too! It’s pretty cool how we can bring our own perspective to the social media world from this unique background.

  2. Really nice post, particularly the comparisons of the pros and cons. Well done! Let us not forget, however, that Instagram IS Facebook. They just recognized early on that they needed a different experience to appeal to certain types/ generations of people.

    1. ericiangesuale · ·

      Very true! That $1 billion purchase was in my opinion the best acquisition they’ve ever done

  3. camcurrie99 · ·

    I was immediately drawn in by your title! I totally agree with your view that we grew up during many transitions of social media platforms which is something I touched upon in my blog post as well. The pros and cons table does a great job of looking at the different aspects of social media and its effects both positively and negatively. To Professor Kane’s point about Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, when that acquisition occurred there were a number of questions from users about how the experience would change. Today, I would imagine most users like myself are still just as intrigued and find useful the platform as they did before the acquisition, making Facebook’s move that much more successful.

  4. briandentonbc · ·

    I really like this article. The pros and cons list is awesome, but the part that stuck with me most is when you talked about how inconceivable it is to experience something without sharing it with others. This brings up really interesting questions about what we are trying to accomplish when we post online. What are we trying to express, and to extent does this constant social positioning have on the perception of ourselves and others? Awesome article, I really enjoyed reading it!

  5. Sheritta Coleburn · ·

    Great title! I immediately became interested in your article and then reading through, I could not agree more. We grew up in a time experiences mangy different network platforms. I love the pros and cons for the different aspects of Social Media. In today’s society I ultimately think social media can be a blessing and a curse.

  6. I liked that you introduced us to both pros and cons of social media use. I think it’s a very real depiction of how it feels to use social media too. I always struggle with getting the perfect angle for my next instagram post versus just being present in whatever I’m viewing or participating in. “Pics or it didn’t happen” may be disrupting our actual experiences. Adele is famous for being upset with her fans holding up phones to record her performances. She makes a good point when she says if you wanted to watch me on video you could have stayed home. It’s a hard balance to strike in our day and age.

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