Breaking Down Social Media

This article explores several main social media platforms.

For somebody who didn't grow up a millennial, social media can be a tough world to navigate. Even if you are a millennial, the "social rules" for social media are constantly changing and could catch you off guard if you aren't paying attention. 

Within this article I will explore several of the main social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. These four platforms each have special personalities, unique characteristics, and associated age groups when it comes to users. Because the use for social media does change frequently, I will speak of each platform from the current state they are in (summer of 2017).


Facebook is the home to shared articles, current events (both world-wide and personal), and family pictures. Today, it is the home to parents, ranging from new parents to grandparents. It is a social media platform that is used widely for the distribution of articles, images, and videos on controversial topics with the option of the user to "like, love, laugh at, cry at, or hate" a post. 

Users are also able to "check-in" to areas around the world, sharing with their Facebook friends exactly where they have been, what they have seen, and where they are going next. Facebook is also an extremely popular virtual photo album vault, with pictures uploaded daily of family adventures and young children who have already mastered how to pose for a selfie. While older generations and controversial discussions flood the feed of Facebook now more than ever, it still remains true to its original intent: connection (Source 1).


Instagram has grown to be the medium most like Facebook. It is populated by the younger generation and tells the story of one's life and interests through images. With likes and comments, tagging and direct messaging, users are able to interact using posted content. 

Instagram and Twitter provide the most up-close and personal look into the lives of celebrities who choose to partake in the platform. It is on Instagram that the meme truly flourishes. The "meme" is a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way (Source 2). In past years, one could argue that the home of the meme was Facebook, however with older generations having access to the timelines of the younger generation, the meme most comes alive in its recklessness via Instagram. There are accounts devoted solely to giving their followers a good uncensored laugh. 

Speaking of recklessness, Instagram is also home to fake Instagram accounts, better known as the "finsta." These accounts are made by users who already have a heavy following on another account. They serve as places where reckless images can be posted along with unfiltered captions and are kept separate from the original account in order to keep them hidden from all but a few friends who will do no harm with the information the "finsta" provides. 

For a more specific example, a "finsta" may have illegal drugs, drinking, or sex related imagery or vulgar language, something not suitable for the eyes of a family member, coach, or employer to see. It is no surprise that this social media platform is inhabited by the millennials. 


Snapchat is one of the newer social media platforms, famous for it's vanishing images and videos (Source 3). It is one of those platforms that is constantly updating and improving. Over time these updates have included: snapchat filters, bitmojis, adding images from your camera roll, zooming in on videos, stories, the location map, and the list goes on and on. 

Snapchat, due to its intricacies, is one of the hardest social media platforms to master if you haven't been growing with it since the beginning. That being said, without surprise, it is inhabited by the generation of people that grew up with the iPhone. Snapchat is a sort of guilt-free, live-time sharing platform. If something is sent from user to user, it disappears in at most 10 seconds (unless it is set to infinity... one of the newest snapchat updates...). This allows for the sharing of messy, unfiltered images and the birth of the "ugly selfie." The story, which disappears 24 hours after it is posted, is perfect for a quick glimpse into somebody's life that is also unfiltered and basically as rough cut as it gets (I'm ignoring light filters and speed adjustment options in this claim). 

This is a medium to share with your best friends what you did on a Saturday night the following day, but not what you necessarily need shared in years to come like Instagram or Facebook would provide (also ignoring here that both Facebook and Instagram have "stories" and "go live" options). In my mind, it is arguably the realest social media platform out there, taking snippets of reality with users completely in control of who sees what so they can put their best, or worst, foot forward.


Last but not least, we have Twitter. Twitter is a vault for one-liners and is swarming with emotion, humor, and opinion on opinion on opinion. One's twitter feed may have the occasional image or meme, but the majority of what is tweeted is a few words long, referring to one's mood, a random internal thought, a hidden message to another user, you name it. It is easy to use and one of the fastest ways to spread information (Source 4). And, because it is a fast-paced application, it encourages users to tweet in real-time, something that can easily cause conversation and/or controversy. If you're looking for somebody's opinion on something, go to Twitter. If you want to see how a famous celebrity feels about the President's latest announcement, go to Twitter. If you want to spread the word about a lost dog, probably go to Facebook, but if you want to share your love for dogs with a bunch of one-liners that randomly pop into your head, go to Twitter. 

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