A different kind of social media

VSCO's lack of social media elements are beneficial to teenagers

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Stress, anxiety, and acceptance are just some of the many problems teenagers face in their social lives. Some would argue that social media plays a prominent role in creating that social pressure. However, some apps, like VSCO, are pushing to drop the common social media elements to create a calmer and more carefree atmosphere. 

VSCO is a photo-editing app where individuals are able to express themselves and their photos to other artists, but, the app lacks certain components such as likes, comments, and the display of follower/following counts. 

Nathalie Nadda, senior, who has owned a VSCO account for nearly two years now, says VSCO is “definitely more focused on the individual creativity side of photography just because there are no likes or comments features that are on that app. So it’s all about just sharing your pictures with others, and just seeing what other people have to create.”

Nadda says that VSCO is more of a “chill” app compared to the atmosphere when using Instagram. She says since less people are viewing her VSCO account, that she feels less worrisome when posting her pictures. 

“I think on VSCO, I just post whatever picture I think looks fine or has cool editing, or whatever I think is more realistic or more candid. So I think for all people, especially younger kids and teenagers, that the pressure of not having likes and comments is way more beneficial,” Nadda says. 

Sasha Razin, sophomore, also owns a VSCO account and has a similar view of the app. “I feel like when you compare yourself to others, it makes you feel bad about yourself and it’ll lower your self-worth,” Razin says. “On VSCO, since you can’t see [likes or comments], it doesn’t really matter, so it’s less stress.”

While this sense of lowered self-esteem may not apply to all teenagers, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center conducted in March of 2018, 43% of U.S. teens “feel pressure to only post content that makes them look good to others” and 37% “feel pressure to post content that will get a lot of likes and comments.” With VSCO’s unavailability of these common elements, it stands out from other popular apps like Instagram and Facebook. 

“It’s a good thing because sometimes people get too caught up by how many likes they get and they feel it’s not enough, so this way people can just post whatever they want and it’s more about them just posting for fun without having to care what everyone else thinks,”Sami Ness, sophomore, and two-year user, says. 

Ness also owns an Instagram account and she thinks hitting post on a VSCO picture is much easier than posting a photo on Instagram.. 

“For VSCO, I don’t even have to think twice[to post a photo], but with Instagram I’ll be asking all my friends, ‘is this good enough for other people to see?’,” Ness says. 

Another design aspect that many VSCO users seem to have a liking for is the app’s photo-editing tools. There are two options when downloading the app: the free plan and the paid membership plan.

“I really enjoy seeing the different photos on the app, and I really enjoy editing and posting them. I just really like the whole atmosphere of it,” Razin says.

With the paid membership plan, over 130 presets, or filters, are included, along with all the different filters are the basic editing tools.

“I usually stick to one filter and then I’ll play around with the contrast and the temperature,” Razin says. 

Besides the editing tools, there are all different kinds of content on VSCO ranging from professionally edited photos to screenshots of cartoon characters. Other photos may be of something as simple as scenery. Recently introduced to VSCO was DSCO, which creates short GIFs.

“I definitely think the DSCO feature is fun. If you’re at the beach, you can just scan the area, I like doing that. It glitches it a little bit and it puts a filter on it. I just like the way it looks,” Ness says.

While VSCO may not be the leading social media app anytime soon, it definitely stands out from the others. 

“I think it’s a really fun app for people to just share what’s going on in their life without needing to worry about anything else,” Nadda says. “If you’re trying to get into photography, or trying to be more creative, then I think it’s a great way to express that side of you that you may not express elsewhere.”