Empathetic emoji, traffic cones and Peeple… Social Media Re-hash: Oct 2015

October. There’s fog everywhere you look, it’s just about acceptable to start talking about Christmas and people are still tweeting, instagramming and facebook-ing (is that a verb?) as usual. This month will be an extra-special re-hash for me as it will be my last — I’m passing it on to my esteemed colleague Scott who, after all, spends more time researching and sifting through the bizarre landscapes of the Internet than me. Be prepared… there will be memes.

On the 1st of October social media platforms exploded with outrage over a new app being developed, named Peeple. The app allows people to rate other people, which the developers insidiously described as “Yelp for people”. There are no anonymous reviews, but no way to opt out, either. In a brilliantly ironic turn of events, one of the creators of this delightful feedback app got tired of the unsolicited feedback from critics. She later wrote a Linkedin post about Peeple becoming a ‘positivity app’. She has apparently changed the features so people would need to opt in to being on the platform. The opt in policy and lack of anonymity within the app would indeed prevent some of the most vicious vitriol, but in the festering pool of bad ideas, “Yelp for people” is particularly repugnant.

On the 24th September, American artist Scott Waters wrote a Facebook post noting his observations about Britain upon visiting. By 6th October, it had been shared so much it ended up on Buzzfeed. They’re pretty spot on; “Pubs are not bars, they are community living rooms” and “Cake is one of the major food groups”. An astute man, I think we can all agree.

In September, there was some talk of Facebook finally developing the much-anticipated ‘Dislike button’. Last month, it was revealed that Facebook will not release a dislike button, and is instead thinking of rolling out an additional 6 ‘empathetic’ emoji to accompany the ubiquitous ‘Like’ button. It will be interesting to see how this plays out — much of the success of the ‘Like’ button must come from its ability to convey a uniform expression of support with extreme ease. Will people embrace these new expressions, given that they offer ever less onus on the individual to actually comment upon a status update? Will there become a rift in Facebook users between the traditional ‘Likers’ and those willing to embrace these new emoji? Will anyone actually ever use the ‘Wow’ emoji apart from sarcastically? Time will tell.

It’s worth mentioning here that on the 15th October, Twitter stopped working for almost a full hour. Unthinkable, I know. But we survived.#TwitterBlackout

The 21st October 2015 marked the day Marty McFly and gang went back to in Back to the Future. Cue mass hysteria and endless comparisons of 2015 as it was imagined then, and 2015 as it is now. (The best of which can be found here, obviously. Jaws 19 vs Sharknado was a personal highlight.)

Moving onto one of the more disturbing-yet-empowering social media stories of the month. On 23rd October, news got around that Mia Matsumiya, a violinist who has been active on social media for 10 years, had started up an Instagram account to publicly shame her online abusers. She wrote of the account, “It’s absolutely unacceptable to treat anyone this way. People often deny the existence of racism or sexism, but I’m pelted with it almost daily and here’s my proof.” Using this Instagram account, Matsumiya is exposing the racism and sexism she faces, shaming abusers, and taking the power back.

What. The. Hell. Last but certainly not least, the 31st October meant a whole host of Halloween videos, memes and stories on social media, but I’ll end with my favourite of these, which was the story of a bunch of lads who dressed up as traffic cones and actually blocked traffic in Glasgow. Brilliant.

I can only hope you’ve enjoyed reading my monthly re-hash as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Scott… you’re up next!