Out of everything I’ve learned in this course, and by extension previous courses I’ve done since high school, it’s mostly been absorbing what other people say saying, what they like, and what they do. Nothing else comes even close. As an aspiring journalist, writer, and truth seeker, what others say really matters to me.
I feel like this doesn’t just apply to me. More than ever before, we as a species have to listen and learn from each other. In these dark times, a little learning won’t hurt anyone. Even though my naivety is still present due to my age, I’m getting much better at having an open mind.
Burger King is one of the largest fast food chains in the world, operating in every single continent aside from Antarctica. The multinational company has seen a ton of success through selling people fast food such as burgers, fries, chicken, with drinks on the side. Recently, however, they’ve undergone a strategy that has heavily crippled their standing on the internet.
Back in August, Burger King decided to do something quite shady, but clever. They went to Twitch, a highly popular streaming site, and did $5 to multiple high profile streamers’ channels. Now, how donations work on Twitch is that you pay money, and in exchange you get to type out a message that will show and be spoken out on stream. Burger King typed out advertisement messages. Yes, a multi-billion dollar corporation thought it would be a good idea to do $5 advertisement donations on livestreams viewed by tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people daily. To say the least, people weren’t happy. Not just the people watching, but the streamers too. Sure, they were getting $5, but it wasn’t a wholesome, genuine donation. It was Burger King cheaply getting free publicity.
To say that this was a PR disaster would be a huge understatement. Burger King’s reputation in the online world was nearly eviscerated after this fiasco. As far as I’m aware, Burger King was just fine in the online world up until this scandal, which makes this failure all the more tragic. They had something, and now they barely have anything. All they can hope for are customers that don’t pay attention online still eat at their restaurants.
Before my vacation during the last few months, I wasn’t in the greatest place. I wasn’t doing anything, had no productive hobbies, and didn’t have the motivation needed to seek out new frontiers. However, this all changed slowly over the course of late spring to summer, and peaked as of last week. This is how my vacation went.
As far back as October of last year, my life was in shambles. Whether it was unemployment, a lack of friends, and barely any motivation to do anything, needless to say my life was in a pit, and wasn’t coming out on its own. I needed to do something. Over the course of this year, during the tense times of the outbreak, I’ve resorted to making new friends both online and in person, to great success. This came from both having an internal want and need, like all people, to want and need others in their lives. Once achieving that, I looked towards solid employment. Something I could sustain, perhaps permanently.
It was a rocky road. I live in a small town, meaning every establishment here is very cliquey, and since I’m not a well known person, nor is my family, nabbing a job has never been a cake walk for me here. However, the tables turned when I least expected them to. I got an offer from my mother’s eye doctor office a little over a week ago, asking if I was interested in being a room sanitizer, as well as guiding patients to the testing rooms when the doctors are ready for them. Jumping for joy, I said I was, and after going in for a brief interview, I was informed that I was hired the next day. This was a long time coming. A decent job for me.
I know. I didn’t really have a vacation in the traditional sense. I didn’t fly to Hawaii, or go on a road trip down to Las Vegas for some gambling, but I did take a mental vacation. One that made me relaxed, gave me perspective, and stabilized both the social and internal parts of my life. In a sense, the peak of the vacation took place last week, when I was hired, and when I told my friends that I might be able to save up for a true vacation. One that, like many other people’s ideas of one, would take me to an exotic location, or perhaps some populated city like London, England.
Life always has something strange, or at other times, wonderful around the corner. 2020 has been a really strange year for everyone, but for me, it’s been more positive than negative since I picked up the pace, and got ahead of the curb. Now, I’m looking towards the stars, and plotting a course for endless achievement.
When I was in elementary school, it was a simple time. Kids didn’t have smartphones, they weren’t being exposed to the dangers of the internet as early, and parents were much more attentive with how their kids interacted online if they were ever on a device. I saw only one boy with an iPhone. Nowadays, this has changed for the worse.
Studies show that around ninety percent of teens aged thirteen to seventeen have used social media at least once, with seventy five percent being on at least one account regularly. This is terrifying, as younger people do not know right from wrong nearly as well as people in their twenties and up.
The risks are astronomical. In terms of judgement, would a teenager be less likely to give up personal information? No. Teenagers are very chatty. They love talking about themselves, and rarely develop filters at their age. This gets even worse if they have a large following on any app, where they post pictures of their home, street, etc.
Without a doubt, there are positives to youth using social media. I myself used it a lot when I was younger, but I knew the dangers and avoided them. My parents told me what to look out for, and what to say and not say. Many parents nowadays just don’t care. It shows with how phones are handed out like candy to people that are barely more mature than someone in elementary school.
How can this improve? For starters, there has to be some sort of law directed towards youth using social media, as well as more action from app owners and companies towards fighting the risks that youth face online. Whether it’s restricting use or just flat out banning people under a high age from using the internet, something has to happen. Right now, there are thousands of children online that are in astronomical danger, and hardly anyone is talking about it.
If you’ve poked your head around social media a lot, you might’ve heard of a little gem called Discord. Much like Facebook group chat, Discord allows you to talk to people in chat channels about anything your heart desires, with thousands of big servers out there to satisfy your needs. At first, it was made specifically for gamers, but after around two years, it expanded to beyond just gamers. Since May 13th, 2015, Discord has rose to being one of the top dogs on social media.
Five years since the launch, there has been some of the most substantial growth ever seen on social apps. It slowly began with streamers creating servers for their fans to join and chat about their communities, as well as being up to date with streaming and upload schedules. On the platform’s third birthday, on May 13th, 2018 they hit one hundred and thirty million users. This paved the way for even more growth for the future.
How did it get to where it is today? How did Discord climb to where it is now? Well, let’s talk a bit about the features of the app itself. Discord has some of the most convenient, easy to learn and access features out of any app out there. Making a chat server is much easier than making a group or page on Facebook, and all it takes is a few clicks to invite people into your server. Additionally, you can put links to your servers on sites such as discord.me and disboard, which allows you to get people outside of your friend groups in servers.
The ease of access doesn’t end there. Unlike Snapchat and Instagram, Discord can be fully accessed on both personal computers and mobile devices, as opposed to those two, which are only accessible on mobile devices, with Instagram not allowing people to post from PC. Users being able to access it on any device allows them to do anything on either device while text or voice chatting with anyone. The overlay also allows you to use it and see who is talking in a voice call while playing a game, or doing anything that requires fullscreen.
On the subject of users, Discord at first was for gamers. It was made by TeamSpeak users as a better alternative, as the former wasn’t as reliable as they’d prefer. Discord, after a few years of being purely for gamers, slowly spread to beyond just gamers. How exactly this happened is unknown. The most likely reason is because of it being used by a large amount of gamers, and then it being mentioned in regular social circles, thus getting non-gamers interested in the platform.
Whether it’s the easy to use features, the wide array of uses, or the large amount of friendly, interesting communities available, Discord is one of the most vibrant communities out there. With only five years down the hatch, there’s plenty more room for growth, especially if celebrities outside of gaming create servers. If that were to happen, Discord would become a top five contender in the social media race.
Social media is a huge phenomenon, even in less developed countries. Whether you’re a YouTuber, daily Twitch stream viewer, or a blogger, you probably use it daily. Even older generations are starting to go beyond just emailing one another. However, it all comes at a cost with time.
Social media is designed to be addictive. Just like television, things are put in front of you, you become interested in them, and then you want to come back. It produces an endless cycle of checking your phone and/or computer the instant you’re able to, sometimes hundreds of times a day. Everyone knows someone that is on Facebook or Twitter all day, talking about their life like they’re born to do it. Little do they know, they are trapped in an endless cycle.
On apps such as Facebook, many users have this unstoppable urge to log on, post, share, etc, treating it like eating and hydrating. It’s terrifying that around 40% of Americans aged 18-22 that use social media feel addicted to it. The feeling is very real. Just imagine how many more don’t know the feeling yet, or aren’t open about it.
While social media is an amazing tool to express and include yourself in the online world, it is one to be not treated like food and water. Abuse social media, and it becomes just as destructive as a drinking addiction. Like television, it create unhealthy, obsessive patterns that take over your day, and give you an illusion that everything is great, when it isn’t.
No matter your lifestyle, or the way you use the internet, or what you use it for, you’ve probably heard and thought of competitive gaming. Whether gamers are playing for cash, or just for glory or plain fun, you might’ve known some people who partook in digital sports. Despite constant backlash against the industry, and relentless controversy towards content and community behavior, competitive gaming is nothing short of a marvel in both the online and offline world.
All the way back in 1958, Psychiatrist William Higinbotham created a simple two player game called Tennis for Two. His goal was to liven up an instrumentation exhibit in a lab called Brookhaven National Laboratory. He wished for people to be able to play something in the exhibit, instead of just standing there and watching. Once he completed it all my himself, and people started playing it, the exhibit had long lineups consisting of people only wanting to play Tennis for Two. This is arguably the first instance of e-sports in human history.
Fast-forward to 1987, where a game called Street Fighter was released in arcades worldwide. Unlike Tennis for Two, this game was meant to be a highly competitive, “fighting” game where two players play as overly muscular characters, and fight to the death. Despite games in arcades existing for years prior, Street Fighter was something that few experienced before, and paved the way for competitive fighting games for years. Even today, games are still being made in the series, and even the developer and publisher, Capcom, hosts the Capcom World Tour where players compete worldwide for $500,000 and a ton of glory.
Competitive gaming has seen a huge increase in attention during the last ten years, with former NBA superstar Rick Fox entering the scene in December, 2015. He saw the potential that e-sports has, and bought a team called Gravity and re-branded to Echo Fox. Although he had a falling out with a colleague in the business, thus leaving in 2019, this showed that those on the outside are paying attention, and for good reason. Games like League of Legends, Fortnite, and Dota 2 have players competing for millions of dollars, sponsorship deals left right and center, and the best players of each game being offered blank cheques to come play for a different organization across the world. The money, viewership, and stakes are up there with traditional sports.
The road to international fame was a long and perilous journey for e-sports. Constant slander, controversy, and barriers have been created around the world, with the intention of shutting down competitive gaming. Despite all of this, it still carries on. Even with the current coronavirus pandemic, many tournaments are still running, albeit in an online setting. As long as the viewership, and thus, money keeps coming in, e-sports isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.