Author Archives: Comm182 Blog

Thoughts 1/16 (Prompt 1)

“Think/write about your own motivations for using social media and joining online communities. How are your motivations and goals similar to the early Wellites and virtual community members. How and why are they different?”

The first thing I thought of when I read this prompt was YouTube, especially since Professor Rheingold mentioned it as the most surprising/unforeseen social media platform today, and its move to become more commercialized today. However, because I think I have talked about YouTube in every class and in every blog post thus far, I decided to ponder this question a bit more and try to find another perspective.

I will caution you, the reader, by saying that the rest of this post might seem biased. But, I will try to keep it objective as possible. I am not saying that the entire social media world is like this today, but this post will explore how I believe people are advertising themselves today in social media.

A recurring theme that we have talked about in class about the earliest virtual communities was the community aspect – strangers from all over the world were able to come together because of shared interests, experiences, or general perspectives. The Internet also seemed like a great opportunity for people to receive support through adversity or hardships.

While communities like that still exist today, I found a peer’s (Luke, I believe?) comment about the ability to create a second personality on social media extremely poignant. Because content publication and creation is now at the hands of the common man, it’s become very easy to filter what an individual wants or doesn’t want to post on social media. Automatically I can think of numerous friends who only post positive experiences on their social media platforms, such as where they went over break or who they were catching up with over dinner.

While I admire the breadth social media posts can reach, I worry about how only sharing the positive aspects of life on social media can deter one’s ability and comfort to be vulnerable in society today. I wonder if there is a stress that comes with constantly upholding a positive image on social media. I also wonder if this is comparable to the “Duck syndrome” on Stanford campus, where students always seem happy and put-together on the surface when in reality we are all paddling our feet to death trying to stay afloat.

Obviously this is simply coming from an anecdotal and observational experience, which is why I would love to hear any comments that either support or disagree with what I mentioned. Articles or academic papers would also be very welcome!

First Concept Map

First Concept Map


This was surprisingly difficult to do because I feel like many of the concepts seem to influence each other mutually. Instead of a map, I would rather think of these issues (particularly the green ones) to function better as a web. Nonetheless, I tried my best to keep this map concise – I am excited to see how it evolves throughout the rest of the course.

Thoughts 1/9 (What I Use)

I decided to title my blog posts “Thoughts” because I have a similar format on my tumblr. Because of the sheer quantity of social media platforms available to the public sphere today, I have found that consistency is often helpful in organizing thoughts and, more importantly, maintaining my voice in the world wide web.

I have yet to complete any readings for this class, so I have decided to dedicate my first post to talking about the social media platforms I use the most and provide some experiences, opinions, or inquiries about each platform. I hope that by doing so, I will be able to come back to this post at the end of the quarter and see how much more I have learned through this class.

Facebook: This is probably the most universal social media platform we have today. It’s not even a question whether someone has a Facebook. Over the past few years, I noticed that Facebook has rapidly become a platform for sensationalism to garner attention. Whether it be as serious as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the Ferguson and Eric Garner protests, and #JeSuisCharlie or something as trivial as the viral video filming strangers kissing for the first time, my Facebook newsfeed has evolved from wall-to-wall conversations amongst friends to simply article-sharing. I feel like while there has been a loss of intimacy because of this change, we now can use Facebook Messenger to connect one-on-one and still benefit from the sensationalism to keep relatively up-to-date about current events and pop culture.

Tumblr: I think Tumblr seems to attract many “hipster” audiences, and I very much agree with that. My Tumblr newsfeed differs dramatically from my Facebook newsfeed – my Tumblr newsfeed is full of high quality artworks, photographs, clothing, “deep” quotes/blog posts, and the latest music tracks. Contrary to the 1400+ Facebook friends I have, I only have about 170 Tumblr followers. However, my small Tumblr audience makes me more comfortable talking about issues that might be too long or personal for Facebook, and I think that the specific demographics of Tumblr and my specific Tumblr audience definitely makes me feel more comfortable showcasing vulnerability online.

YouTube: Even though YouTube is known to the majority of the world as the land of cat videos, it is extremely important to me. I am a hip-hop dancer, and there is an incredibly big and specific demographic that thrives on the YouTube dance community. Because YouTube allows videos to be posted and shared, it has become the life source for hip-hop dancers around the world to share their styles and concept videos. Dance competitions are all covered by videographers who have filmed for dancers over years, and dancers who successfully use YouTube are actually now popular enough to tour and teach. Another community in YouTube that is extremely powerful is the beauty industry, as a similar mindset has caused an incredibly influx of beauty gurus to film not only how to put on makeup, but to also review products and develop secondary vlog (video blog) channels. Many cosmetics brands like Maybelline and Benefit have caught on to the trend and have started to sponsor beauty gurus, not to mention that there are hundreds of “YouTubers” now whose primary work and money come from uploading videos onto YouTube. Can you tell how obsessed I am with this platform by all the links I provided?

Instagram: Similar to my following in Tumblr, I only have about 240 followers on Instagram. I personally have come to use Instagram as an artistic outlet for me to explore photography, and have realized that my friends’ photos highly influence how my photos evolve. The smaller number of followers I have on Instagram also makes me more comfortable posting content that I believe truly reflect my artistic skill or what I find beautiful.

Snapchat: I don’t use Snapchat for profound content, but I think I use my humor the most through this platform. Knowing that these photos (if not screenshot) will be deleted, I don’t feel as held back in terms of showing my personality.

Yik Yak: This is a very recent discovery, but I have enjoyed it so far. It seems to me just like an accumulation of funny Facebook statuses, but the anonymity also allows for true feelings to emerge. I think that it’s very clever to use the user’s location to limit the Yaks that he/she can see, because that way the newsfeed will always be consistent with the user’s life.

I will end this post here because a) long posts, even my own, bore me, and 2) I think I have said most of what I wanted to say. Until then, I’m going to hit up Arrillaga for dinner (#ricepilaf).

Here’s to 2015 and Comm182

As my username suggests, hello there! My name is Michelle Xu and I’m currently a junior at Stanford University pursuing a major in Human Biology and a minor in Communication. I just came back from a quarter abroad in Paris, and although I am now constantly craving baguettes, I’m ready to be back on campus. One of groups I’m most excited to return to is my hip-hop dance group Alliance.

I am curious and excited to participate in this class because I am particularly fond of Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Seeing how powerful of a phenomenon social media has become just over the past few years, I think it will be eye-opening to study and analyze its effects in our society today whether that be socially, economically, or globally.