The Social Media Project
Recently myself and my peers have been studying the uses of social media in different generations and how they connect to media theories. The Social Media sites I studied and recorded were Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. My subject, Ms. Jean-Louis, recorded her use of Facebook, Instagram and Youtube over the course of a week. The bar graphs below show the results of both our usage of each social media website for 5 of these 7 days.
Let me summarize how we used each social media site individually:
Facebook; I would leave facebook logged in and check throughout the day, so it is unclear precisely how many minutes/hours I spend on facebook overall over the week. Most things I do on facebook is scroll through, like my friends things to keep updated and read articles that have been shared onto my timeline, therefore taking me to a separate website, most of the time spent on facebook is actually off of it, with it open in another tab to know when I get notifications or people trying to talk to me. I sometimes share things to facebook, when I do it doesn’t take long and I only check the comments occasionally. The days I didn’t use facebook that much were days I had other commitments that didn’t involve sitting at home, this shows that though I use Facebook a lot, it isn’t a major priority and I don’t tend to think about it when doing other things during the day. On Facebook Ms. Jean-Louis usually used it in the mornings, first things or in bed. She was only on facebook for 15–20 minutes a day but it was consistent throughout the week. Mainly used to check notifications and scroll through timeline; nothing important is ever done on facebook. this shows how boring facebook can be, one time she switched to Stuff to read articles on their rather than what you find on facebook, which is usually pop culture and irrelevant to our lives; whereas Stuff is a New Zealand news website. Again, this was used daily for 15 minutes and sometimes half an hour.
Instagram; I don’t spend long scrolling through instagram, so most of the time spend on Instagram for me was uploading photos and using separate apps to edit and take them. When I would spend a lot of time on Instagram this is because I went on a following spree, which takes up a lot of time. This means on day 3 and 4 of my log I would browse the Discover section of the app and look through lots of different profiles and follow them, mainly photographers and dogs. This doesn’t happen very often though, so my overall use of the app is minimal, because even though I upload a lot of posts, it doesn’t take long to do so. On the other hand, Ms. Jean-Louis stated in her log that she loves Instagram, and seems to get a lot more entertainment out of it than I do. She would use Instagram to talk to people overseas with the same interests as her, post and like photos from the people she follows and interact with individuals a lot more than I do.
For the third social media website, I logged my use on Snapchat, and my subject logged the use of Youtube. I got into the habit of only using Snapchat around 10 minutes a day, and by the last day I hadn’t used it at all. This is because there isn’t much to do on snapchat but look at others stories, which are easy to skip through if you are not interested. Throughout this week I lost interest in Snapchat, and only uploaded a minimal amount to my story, mainly quick videos of me and my friends (or my dog). I never snap chatted people privately, unless they had sent out a group private snapchat (to everyone), I feel as though because of this snapchat isn’t the right platform for socializing. For communication I would generally use Facebook but Instagram and Snapchat were mainly for entertainment. Youtube is very much the opposite of Snapchat, it is easier to find what you’re looking for, there are longer videos and more content and a lot more freedom to comment and feel involved. Ms. Jean-Louis used Youtube for educational purposes, watching vlogs on current events and tutorials. She uses the platform to learn new things and get information, whereas I found snapchat very dull and not very mind engaging.
My subject, Ms. Jean-louis and I, both use social media in a very similar way, for entertainment and keeping up with what’s going on in the socialsphere (the “ever-growing, intertwining universe of Social Networking sites” as stated in Urban Dictionary). This connects to the theory of the Uses and Gratification Model. This theory shows that people use the internet rather than the internet using them, they are aware of the information they are being exposed to and are not powerless to it. The audience uses social media for things such as escapism, pleasure and information. For example, Ms. Jean-Louis and I have both stated in our logs that we do things along the lines of just lying in bed and scrolling through instagram for a few minutes because we like to look at the posts and feel visually involved, unlike with Facebook nothing much is going on, my subject even once switched to Stuff because it was more interesting in day 3 of her log. This shows power over what we choose to do when using the internet, and we are not powerless to what happens like in the Hypodermic Model. The Hypodermic Model can effect some people in real life, though, like impressionable young teens who use the internet for pleasure end up being succumbed to The Hypodermic Model. This can cause things like them hurting themselves because of bullying or making stupid decisions because someone did it on the internet and they don’t know to not do it.
But because we use them in the same way doesn’t necessarily mean we use them for the same amount of time. Coming back to the bar graphs above, there is a very clear difference between the amount of time I spend on Facebook and the amount of time Ms. Jean-Louis spends on facebook. So if we are doing almost the same thing, why do the results show that I’m spending up to an hour on it each day, and my subject is only on it for 15 minutes to half an hour? Studying the logs we have taken over the course of the week, I talk a lot about just “scrolling through my newsfeed” and “leaving facebook open/checking throughout the day”. This explains why I sometimes spent 60 minutes on a website that not much happens on, I personally would leave facebook open for a long period of time and check constantly throughout the day; whereas Ms. Jean-louis seemed to only use it in the mornings before starting the day. This shows that I have more of a connection to the website than she does, because I can’t seem to go a day without checking my notifications regularly. As for Instagram, the rolls seemed to have switched. Ms. Jean-Louis would spend a consistent amount of time during the week on Instagram, 15 or 30 minutes daily, whereas I would jump from spending no time on the app to 40 minutes in one day. Looking back at the log, Ms. Jean-Louis states “I LOVE instagram. It is my preferred social media network. I hate all the rubbish on FB but instagram is visual and allows me to be really particular about what I follow.” Having an interest in a social media platform that really connects to your personality and wants and desires for whatever platform you are on helps build a lifestyle of being on it regularly yet not getting bored wasting time on it. The way I use instagram is to post pictures and sometimes like a few of my friends posts, whereas Ms. Jean-Louis uses all of the features of the app, making it a lot more enjoyable for her to be on on a regular basis.
In conclusion, my research has shown that though my subject and I are in separate generations, we use social media in a very similar way; casually for pleasure and keeping in contact with people and the wider world. We were not succumbed to the Hypodermic Model, and we are aware of the effects that social media had on us, though there is a pattern of using each site on a regular basis, which could be considered a big part of our daily life.