With the rise of social media, I find myself curious about the impact of online social connectivity. I haven’t allowed my kids to get an Instagram account until they are 14. I worry that they will develop notions of self that are based on the images they see and how others interact with them virtually. I want them to be more grounded in their identity and secure with their values rather than take cues from their peers virtually. Social media can produce a level of insecurity and validation-seeking that I would prefer my pre-teens avoid. Studies have shown that social media usage can contribute to depression. At the same time, I hate being that mom who, according to my kids, is the only mom on the planet who doesn’t allow her kids to get a social media account.
Are there social media sites that do not perpetuate the “like” myth, the myth that your value is determined by the number of people who like your post? Are there sites where there is no commenting to give a kid a complex because he/she does or doesn’t have people positively reinforcing what he/she is putting out in the world?
There is. My son told me all about it. Visual Supply Company (VSCO) is a downloadable app where users can upload photographs, apply “presets” (much like filters in Instagram) and set them loose in the social universe.
Curated content is housed on the Grid, similar to an Instagram feed. Yet, there is no social feedback. In fact, it is considered the anti-social social network. You can follow other photographers that you admire, but, according to Gayomali of Fast Company, the founders are interested in style and quality, not likes and comments like, “I love this photo. Awesome! Great! LOL. Art.”
In an interview with Elizabeth Schuwyzer of Cereal, cofounder, Greg Lutze, said,
“It has nothing to do with name power or social media power. Names and status have no bearing. That’s one of the things we’re proud about in the Grid. We rebelled against the notion that if you have X number of followers, then you’re good. We believe the work speaks for itself. In the curated Grid, we have everyone from 14-year-olds to Joel’s mom.”
Do you believe sites like VSCO will become more popular as people want to opt out of identity crisis-inducing social media? Or do you think most people want to collect social capital with likes, hearts, shares, repinnings and comments? And even if they do, is it ethical for social media sites to exploit this, especially with teens who have not developed a keen sense of self yet?