Social media began back in 1997 with a site called Six Degrees. The site most likely gained its name from the famous “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” phrase. Essentially, people are at a maximum of six connections away from any other human being on earth. This is joked about with Kevin Bacon being six degrees away from any movie that has ever been made hence: “six degrees of Kevin Bacon”. Later on in the socialized web, we saw the introductions of more popular websites like Myspace. Then, in February of 2004, we saw the now king of social media, Facebook, arrive. Like people, social media is complex and there are many different options to use and ways to use them. Twitter fulfills the need for anyone who wants to post their thoughts online more simply and talk to celebrities. Snapchat allows you to send photos and share your life daily and have nothing appear permanent about it. Twitch allows gamers to watch, live stream, and talk about all of their favorite video games. Reddit creates a front page based off of user votes that highlights the most popular things on the web. The list goes on. Overall, all of these innovations allow us to socialize differently.
Typically, the most tech savvy individuals are the ones that grew up with the devices, the youth. Because they are the most involved group, they are the most affected by these innovations in social media and the best to look at for future innovations gaining speed. The newest innovation platform for people to socialize on is with applications like Houseparty, Fam, and Kik. These three applications allow users to something now being coined as “live chilling”. “Live chilling” is using your phone to video call your friends for a long period of time as a substitute for actually seeing that friend in person. In addition, these applications are not limited to just one on one video calls but can be expanded to up to 16 people at the same time.
The first question that comes to my mind is the impact that this social media is having on people. We know that for adults, heavy use of social media is linked with issues of depression. In addition, people often criticize social media and say that it is stopping kids from learning the social skills that every generation has in the past. Studies show that kids now spend more than 10 hours a day just sitting around. Another useful statistic shows that 73% of teens have a smartphone. With people being less and less active and around less people, “live chilling” appears to be the answer. Applications Houseparty and Fam both have over 1 million users already. Houseparty started in February 2016 and Fam started in December of 2016. This will most likely not be the last time you hear about one of these two applications.
To sum it up, social media, a part of life younger than half of the college students here at the University of Denver, will continue to innovate, grow, and impact all of us who use it. Substitutes for being social will continue to get better. Only time will tell how all of these innovations will impact society in the long run.