It’s been a while since I’ve looked at social media from anything other than a marketing/advertising perspective, since that’s mostly what I’ve been working at for the past few years. So it was pretty exciting to be scrolling through FutureLearn courses and find this course, ‘Why we Post’ which focuses on the social media from an anthropological aspect.
Social media has changed beyond reckoning on the few years since I left my University course. It is much more segmented, with more platforms (Snapchat and WhatsApp were still very much emerging at that point, the now defunct Vine was a major force, and livestreaming apps such as Periscope were some years off.) The demographics of users are becoming much clearer – increasingly the younger generations have rejected Facebook, for example, and there are geographical differences in who uses what. The course material acknowledges this – that many studies have focussed solely on social media on a Western setting, ignoring networks like QQ in East Aisa which is second only to Facebook in size. It also acknowledges that prior courses have tended to look at heavily open platforms such as Twitter. There’s a good reason for this – both quantitative and qualitative data are easily accessible and retrievable, but it ignores how much online communication and connecting goes on through increasingly private channels, or public/private situations such as Snapchat.