I’ll be the first to admit that social media runs my life. What indeed would I do without my constant updates, the information I receive about family, friends, and colleagues, not to mention remembering and keeping track of birthdays (Thank you, Mr. Zuckerberg).
In fact, social media is one of the most influential aspects of our young adult lives. Platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter all can play a part in many of our daily routines. They help us process information, get connected with friends both near and far and establish our identities as we create a stronger, clearer online footprint through our accounts.
This is putting social media in a positive light; I believe there’s a place in social media for users to establish themselves. Social media can help us solidify our identities, and surround ourselves with our chosen circles of people. But at what cost?
Social media assigns us numerical values – the number of followers, likes, retweets, interactions, comments, mentions, the list goes on and on. “Likes” on a post are perhaps the most detrimental, giving your content a good, medium, or downright bad review. It can be exhausting.
Then there’s VSCO.
VSCO is like the shy fashion-savvy cousin of instagram. And the best part about it? You can’t see the number of likes on another person’s content, or leave positive/negative commentary. It removes the anxiety around sharing what you truly would like to put out into the digital universe.
You can make your own aesthetic, or post and repost whatever your heart desires with little direction. You can put yourself out there on VSCO with the guarantee that it will not be subjected to the evaluation and opinion of other users directly on the platform.
Joel Flory, the CEO and co-founder of VSCO, is an advocate of these very same values.
In a 2019 interview with The Final Round, he said, “Our mission is really focused around helping you fall in love with your own creativity. At VSCO, what we hear as we talk to our community is that, for so many of the other platforms, it’s about how they want the world to see them on those platforms — on VSCO, it’s a safe space for them to be who they are.”
Flory really emphasizes the capacity that VSCO has to provide a safe space for users to explore creativity and self expression apart from the pressures of other conventional social media platforms. From the beginning, VSCO has not included measures of public popularity.
I see this as a way to allow users to create content from themselves, as they are unburdened by the opinions of others. With this in mind, I think it would be incredibly beneficial for other social media platforms to follow suit.
How long will our society spend hours, days, cumulative weeks on end perusing through social media, with the constant input of numbers and measures of popularity influencing how we view the world? Is the feedback companies get through engagements and likes really worth the mental health of a majority of our society?
I would argue no, and thus commend VSCO and CEO Joel Flory on creating an app based more on authenticity than vanity and appearance.