Words On Wednesday

2015-02-25 Social Media Analysis & Favorite Video Games

My thoughts on social media and a discussion of my favorite video games. Get ready for a long read.

 

Social Media for the Masses

With so many social media platforms available today, many people use many services for many different reasons.

I came across an article and sequel here recently, in which a teen dissected many of the social media outlets available today, analyzing them from the perspective of a teen. He is upfront that the discussion isn’t based in facts and studies, but rather his own experience of them. While it is interesting fodder for thought, I feel as though he fails to acknowledge a wider audience than just himself and his peers.

After reading Andrew’s article, I began to ponder my own presence on social media and why I post certain things to certain platforms. Below are my opinions on various social media outlets, with responses to the original article where applicable.

Facebook

Source: https://d262ilb51hltx0.cloudfront.net/fit/c/480/480/1*_5pYAhDFrWB0NZwW_bKccw.png
Source: https://d262ilb51hltx0.cloudfront.net/fit/c/480/480/1*_5pYAhDFrWB0NZwW_bKccw.png

For my personal use, Facebook is where I connect with people I know (or have at least met) in person: family, friends, classmates, coworkers, that girl I met at the coffee shop, et cetera. Typically, I’ll engage with posts that I have an opinion on. What I post is primarily thoughts that I have, pictures of myself or those I’m with, and checking in at locations.

The common adage is that “everyone uses facebook because everyone uses facebook.” Andrew did make note of this, and I agree. I’m not going to waste time asking new people for the gauntlet of social media platforms, I’m going to go straight for the one they’re most likely to have. If they have other accounts, I can ask about them later. I’ve used Facebook for collaborative efforts in school, I’ve used it to get word out to my friends and family about big news, and other things of that nature.

With so many people using Facebook, messenger is a great way to get in contact with people. As Andrew said, it’s easier and less socially awkward to send someone a friend request rather than ask for their phone number. I’ve never used the groups feature of Facebook, but I have frequently heard it’s one of the biggest things going for the platform.

Maybe it’s just the teenage perspective, but I don’t see facebook as that uncool family dinner that you can’t leave. To me, it’s the backbone of continued communication. Without facebook, I would have long lost contact with quite a few people. High school and college classmates, childhood friends, and family members that live far away are far more easily reached with Facebook. If someone takes an awkward picture of you, ask them to take it down (or just avoid having awkward pictures taken of you to begin with). If you don’t want people seeing that you “liked” something, then you either care too much about how other perceive you or you shouldn’t “like” it to begin with. On Facebook, I am myself in a digital form.

Instagram

Source:  https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6
Source:
https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6

I don’t personally have an Instagram account, but it seems like a way to share pictures of EVERYTHING. I hear about people plastering it with pictures of food, pets, kids, selfies, and everything else.

If the appeal of Instagram is that it hasn’t been flooded by uncool people yet, that’s a trivial reason to enjoy it. As for the frequency of posts, that really depends on the person more than the network. I have Facebook friends that post several times an hour, and others that may post something once a week. The click-baity articles are annoying, yes, but the inclusion of links also exposes me to genuinely interesting articles and sites.

Higher quality content? Pfft. If you call something higher quality because someone slapped a filter on it, you clearly don’t know “quality.” Sure, some pictures could use some editing. But if the picture itself sucks, changing up the shading and tint aren’t going to make it any better as an image.

Maybe my idea of Instagram is incorrect. Feel free to inform me otherwise. It just doesn’t seem like something I’d be interested in.

Twitter

Source: https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6
Source: https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6

Twitter is for the stream of consciousness thoughts I have of short length, as well as news consumption. My own posts are pretty much exclusively short quips and retweets from tech news sources.

The short length limit of Twitter essentially forces thoughts into a small and concise format. I can spend 5 minutes on Twitter and be exposed to a huge amount of information, simply because everything has been boiled down to about a sentence. I do not follow and am not followed by many people I know personally, so Twitter is rarely how I connect with people.

I’ll agree with Andrew, the main purpose of Twitter is somewhat elusive. I only got on it because I was required to by an English class at Upstate, but for some reason I hung around. It’s somehow comforting to be able to post about how Fluffernutter sandwiches are awesome, without being required to elaborate on the idea.

WordPress

As of late, WordPress has become my jam. Writing is one of my biggest hobbies, and other platforms just… don’t cater toward writing. On wordpress, I can write anywhere from 200 words to 5,000 words in a single post and nobody really bats an eye.

The social part of WordPress isn’t great, but I think they’re working on it. More importantly than a social network, WordPress is a platform for blogging that can be easily tied to other social media accounts. My Words on Wednesday blog is automatically posted with the title, some keywords, and a link to the full text every week to my Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. My connections on those networks aren’t forced to read through or even scroll past the entire blog text, but they are at least exposed to it.

Snapchat

Source: https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6
Source: https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6

I’ve already voiced my opinion on Snapchat elsewhere (https://jakehennett.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/words-on-wednesday-september-3-2014/), but I’ll give a brief synopsis here. Snapchat is for people with ADD who spam others with pictures and don’t want anything to last more than 10 seconds. It reeks of cheating significant others and nude pics.

Andrew mentioned that if he doesn’t get likes or comments on his posts to Facebook or Instagram quickly, he’ll delete it. Snapchat posts that don’t get attention will remain. Perhaps this is the first big, obvious difference between Andrew and myself. I post things to social media with the intent to keep them there. I don’t know that I ever have deleted a post on any network, and I doubt I ever will. If I offended someone, good. Unfriend/unfollow me. If I post something awkward or incriminating, I ask the permission of those involved first. Pictures of ex girlfriends stay, because we dated at some point. My wife and I are both ok with that, so I see no reason to destroy or hide the past. Maybe I’m just callous and careless, but I do not care what people think of me, other than future employers.

Google+

Maybe I’m such a fan of Google+ because I’m a complete Google fanboy, but I really like the network. Essentially, it’s like a long-read version of Twitter for me. Very few of the people I know personally are on Google+. Instead, I follow lots of news sources and online friends I’ve made. The community feature is awesome (probably what I imagine Facebook groups to be like if I actually used them), and allows me to connect with other people who are also passionate about my interests.

As Andrew elaborated, it’s very much a backbone for Google services. With Google+, I can have my email, calendar, hangouts, voice, music, and other services all integrated into a single account. Having to remember a new login for every single site is annoying.

Tumblr

Source: https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6
Source: https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6

Umm… pictures? I see a lot of reddit posts linked to Tumblr photos. Maybe it’s like reddit jr., minus the text posts? Honestly, I know very little about the service.

LinkedIn

I like to call LinkedIn my digital resume. Basically, my entire LinkedIn profile is my resume divided into pre-determined fields. People on my LinkedIn contacts are individuals I have worked with or gone to school with. I try to highlight their abilities in hopes that they will highlight mine.

My blog does automatically post to LinkedIn, as I mentioned before, but that’s mainly to attest to my writing ability for possible jobs. Maybe I was just a career minded teen, but I thought it was pretty important to get a LinkedIn. It allowed me to put myself on the job market and keep up with careers that I’m interested in.

Pinterest

Andrew pretty much hit the nail on the head with this one. Mainly female demographic, with arts and crafts stuff. My wife sends me links to it with recipes, quotes, and other things she finds interesting. I suppose the network is good at what it does, but it is absolutely incessant that you need a pinterest account. Any pins viewed by those without an account are hassled that you need to download the app and sign up, and it just doesn’t shut up. The content is all fine, but the fact that it pushes an account so vehemently is annoying.

Reddit

Source: https://medium.com/backchannel/what-teens-really-think-about-youtube-google-reddit-and-other-social-media-a7263924a506
Source: https://medium.com/backchannel/what-teens-really-think-about-youtube-google-reddit-and-other-social-media-a7263924a506

Reddit gives me my daily dose of funny gifs, news articles, and other posts within my interests. Probably my favorite part of Reddit is the upvote/downvote karma system. If someone makes an inappropriate (by Reddit standards) comment, criticizes other unjustly, or in some other way offends the reddit beast, they get downvoted to oblivion. It’s a good way to keep discussion on topic and weed out unnecessary remarks. I sincerely wish all other social media platforms had this sort of duality of likes and dislikes.

Tinder

I was already engaged/married by the time Tinder came out. I guess it would be good for hookups if you’re into that sort of thing. I’d personally rather get to know someone based on interests and personality, rather than looks. To each, his own.

MySpace

Oh man, MySpace? I had it back in early high school and stopped using it some time before 2009. Like Andrew said, it’s a dead brand and needs to stop making a comeback. Tom Anderson made the right decision to sell it when he did. Let it go.

I will say, the ability to customize profiles is pretty awesome and encouraged many people to dabble in html. Plastering profiles with flashy gif backgrounds and annoyingly loud music is a bit much, but it is at least interesting to be able to customize more than just the pictures and content. Somebody needs to bring back html customization, but apply some limits.

The Others

  • Yik Yak – I’ve never heard of it, and Andrew’s discussion about it doesn’t really clear up much. Sounds useless to me.
  • Medium – Sounds like a WordPress knockoff. There are plenty of blogging platforms available, I guess this is just another option.
  • Kik – My brother-in-law is a huge fan of it, but I don’t get the appeal. It’s a messaging software, what’s the big deal?
  • WhatsApp – See Kik above.
  • GroupMe – Haven’t heard of it, but it sounds like just another chat software. See Kik and WhatsApp above.
  • Plague – Uhh… Twitter 2.0? Like most others here, I haven’t heard of it and I can’t see why I would need to. It tries to fill a niche that doesn’t exist.
  • Ello – No ads? Sweet. That also means no revenue stream for those in charge. Therefore, it won’t last long. Try again.
  • Swarm – It’s one of those “check-in” services that doesn’t do anything else? Then why bother with it? Most other platforms support location sharing AND other stuff.
  • Quora – So it’s a way to ask and answer questions? Umm… a quick Google search handles that just fine for me. No need to dedicate an entire social network to it.

As for the plethora of chat apps available, it would be better in my mind if they were all centralized and compatible. Having to download numerous different apps to connect with individual groups of friends is annoying. I already use Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, and SMS/MMS for all other people. I don’t need anything else to keep up with.

Oh wow, over 2k words. That little blurb turned out to be much more comprehensive than I originally expected it to be. To anyone who actually read through the entire thing, thanks for sticking with me. Let me know what you think in the comments. As for Andrew’s original posts, I don’t mean to undermine him or criticize him in any way. The articles were well written and enlightening to see a teen’s perspective on social media platforms. I simply used it as a springboard for my own thoughts and differing opinions.

 

Favorite Video Games

A topic near and dear to me, as well as one I’ve wanted to write on for a while.

Though I don’t get to play as much as I used to, I still greatly enjoy playing video games. I still consider myself a gamer, and I still try to stay up to date on all the latest gaming news. When people ask what I’ve been playing recently, I have a solid answer (Far Cry 3 and Earthbound, currently). A harder question for me is what game I would call my favorite.

When I ponder what my favorite game is, numerous titles come to mind. In the past, I’ve been a big fan of Nintendo first party games. Mario, Metroid, and Zelda are all fantastic, with some real gems in each series. Since the GameCube, PS2, and Xbox generation of consoles, I’ve drifted more toward Sony and the Playstation line. In order to give proper attention to all games, I’ll try to divide them up into categories. Genre divisions are occasionally blurred, and games within any given genre can often be radically different, but I’ll propose a few genres with divisions in each genre.

  • Adventure

      • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – The Castlevania series has hit quite a few different styles, but I think SotN is the creme of the crop. It hits the sweet spot in difficulty and complexity, with a fantastic soundtrack.
      • Super Metroid – Dubbed “Metroidvania” by some, Super Metroid bears striking resemblance to Castlevania: SotN in terms of gameplay. Therefore, it’s likely no surprise that this is my favorite from the Metroid series.
      • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – Top-down visuals, complex dungeons, catchy music. I’m a Zelda fanboy all day long, but ALttP is the peak of quality for the series.
      • The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – With the variety of Zelda games available, I couldn’t let the entire series by with just a 2D game. As for the 3D titles, I think Majora’s Mask takes the cake. While it may be shorter than Ocarina of Time, I think MM added depth and complexity that OoT just didn’t quite have.
      • Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal – Hard to pick a favorite out of the R&C series because so many of them are so good, but I think Up Your Arsenal is my pick. Some of the Ratchet games have struggled to get Weapon development dead on, but it’s nearly perfect in UYA.
  • Horror

      • Resident Evil 4 – Resident Evil fans are often divided on which is their favorite. While 4 did change a lot for the series, I feel that it improved gameplay while maintaining that traditional horror aspect.
      • Dead Space – Terrifying, but enthralling. Something about Dead Space just keeps me hooked, and scares me half to death at the same time.
  • RPG

      • Final Fantasy X – My first Final Fantasy game, and definitely my favorite. The story is so touching to me, the gameplay is awesome (I’m a big fan of turn-based games), and the characters seem so real.
      • Earthbound – Perhaps a premature entry to the list, but I love what I’ve played of Earthbound. It’s unique, but maintains core elements of a great RPG.
      • Pokemon HeartGold – I’m a big fan of Pokemon in general, but HeartGold is my favorite installment so far. Generation II was awesome, taking the player through 2 regions rather than the traditional 1. The remakes were very true to the original, but touched it up to fit well with other games of the era.
      • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – I’m no novice to the Elder Scrolls series, having played as far back as Morrowind. While they’re all great games, I feel that Skyrim is the best released so far.
  • First Person Shooter

      • BioShock – Perhaps the best story of any game I’ve ever played, with a plot twist that still baffles me. Tough, but super fun.
      • Doom 3 – There’s nothing quite like blasting through wave after wave of demons with a trusty shotgun.
  • Racing

      • Kirby Air Ride – One of the weirdest racing games I’ve played, but completely addictive. I’ve spent countless hours playing City Trial over and over again.
      • Crash Team Racing – Though Mario Kart is heralded as the best kart racing game, I personally prefer CTR. I can’t give solid reasons why, but it sticks out to me far more than Mario Kart ever did.
  • Platform

      • Super Mario World – The very first video game I ever played, what I learned on and still enjoy replaying from time to time now. Super Mario World has fun levels, catchy music, and a plethora of secrets to unlock.
      • Super Mario 64 – Much like the Zelda series, choosing a 2D Mario game without also selecting a great 3D game should be a mortal sin. Therefore, I’d have to pick Super Mario 64 as my favorite of the 3D titles. I spent hours as a kid trying to find all 120 stars in this game.
      • Crash Bandicoot: Warped – It saddens me that the Crash Bandicoot series has gone so long without a sequel. Of the games out, Warped is probably my favorite. It toned down the absurd difficulty of the original Crash, and added in more gameplay variety.
  • Stealth

    • Hitman: Contracts – Stealth games are normally hit or miss for me, but I loved Hitman: Contracts. Like chess, it’s easy to play but hard to master.

This list is probably not complete. I’ve been playing video games for nearly 2 decades now. I’ve played quite a few titles, and enjoyed several of them. I probably couldn’t put games on this list in any ranked order, because they are all awesome.

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