Since the beginning of the semester, taking this class has made me reflect on my usage of social media and technology and how it has evolved over the past 10 years. It is interesting because our generation (those of us who were born in the 90’s) is the one who didn’t entirely grow up with social media since we were born but we have been exposed to it at a very young age.
My very first ‘social media account’ was a Hotmail account, which gave me access to Windows Live Messenger. After talking to some of my American friends, apparently it wasn’t a thing in the States. However, it was a super popular way of communicating in Spain when I was about 11 – 13 years old.
Although Hotmail accounts were mainly email accounts, we used in middle school as an instant messaging platform. When I got my first desktop computer when I was 11, my daily routine after school was to go online on Windows Live Messenger and talk to people through there.
Back in the day we thought that it was great because you could have group conversations, add really cool emojis, change your profile picture, add a status, video chat with people, and even, link your iTunes so it would show what you were listening to.
I would waste so many hours having conversations that more or less went like this:
- “What’s up?”
- “Nothing much, what about you?”
- “Same, I’m bored”
What I liked about it is that I could keep the window open for hours and get my homework done at the same time.
When Tuenti was launched as a new social media platform in Spain, Windows Live Messenger died very quickly and it was eventually taken over by Microsoft, which is the reason I have an Outlook email account right now (which most people don’t have).
Tuenti was Spain’s equivalent of Facebook. What was funny about it is that it was an exact copy of Facebook. As soon as Facebook rolled out features such as private messages, instant messages and games, it didn’t take Tuenti long to imitate them. Tuenti also died pretty fast because it couldn’t keep up with Facebook. After doing some research, I saw that Tuenti became a cheap mobile service provider offering data packages.
What happened to Windows Live Messenger and Tuenti? Why couldn’t they survive Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other new forms of social media?
…. the smartphone happened.
Tuenti and Windows Live Messenger were platforms that were designed for laptops or desktop computers with wide screens and consolidated many features (sharing music, videos, instant messaging etc.) in one same space.
When smartphones became popular, people’s needs of social media accounts shifted and platforms such as Tuenti and Windows Live Messenger only served users’ most basic needs and therefore were not able to meet the more specific needs.
Now we have a limitless array of apps that can serve more specific social needs:
- Snapchat: send and receive photos and messages that are not stored permanently
- Instagram: post picture that meet certain unspoken standards
- Twitter: share one’s own thoughts as well as another people’s content
- WhatsApp: instant messaging and calling
- Venmo: sending and receiving money
- Spotify: listening and sharing music
- GroupMe: app designed specifically for group chats
- Tinder/Bumble: meeting new people online
- Uber: ride-sharing for getting from A to B
And the list goes on and on.
Now that we all have smartphones, we are all hyper-connected at all times and we have grown increasingly dependent on them due to all the things that smartphones enable us to do.
Have you thought about all the things that smartphones have replaced?
Here is a small list:
- Dictionaries/Encyclopedias: We can use google to translate words/look up definitions
- Newspapers/Magazines: Read news articles and
- TVs/Laptops: we can now watch shows and movies on our phone
- Credit Cards: digital wallets are starting to replace payment methods
- Banks/ATMs: you can now deposit checks online by taking pictures of them
- Cameras: I lost my camera’s charger and that was the end of it
- MP3 players: not that many people have iPods and MP3 players
- Alarm Clocks: I don’t know anyone who uses an alarm (not even my parents)
- Gaming consoles: so many games can be played on phones now that less people have gaming consoles.
- Flashlight: I haven’t used a flashlight since the iPhone’s flash works like that
- Calculators: My calculator’s battery died a year ago and I haven’t needed to replace it
Smartphones have made our lives easier but we have also become extremely attached to them. We use them so often for so many things that it is so important for them not to die on us. If someone cannot be reached sometimes it can be a problem.
When I got my first phone (some old Nokia) the battery lasted many days because I only used it to be in touch with my parents. Now, our batteries last half a day because they phone does so many things at the same time.
In the past, if I wanted to take pictures, I used a camera.
If I wanted to watch something, I used the TV.
If I wanted to listen to music, I would use my iPod.
If I wanted to play Animal Crossing or Mario Cart, I used my Nintendo.
All of those things have been consolidated into one device, which is why phones keep getting bigger and bigger.
Although smartphones may be better than flip phones, there is one thing they can’t do: