by Sarah Madanat
April 2018

People are now using, and relating to social media and TV programs more than ever due to the development of media dimensions over the years. Through the five-step critical process (describing, analyzing, interpreting, evaluating, and engaging), the roles, effects, and outcomes of Snapchat and a TV show called “Suits” on society can be examined, allowing users and society to better understand the social media platforms they engage with on a daily basis.

Snapchat

Snapchat, a mass social media platform created by former students at Stanford University a couple of years ago, is now one of the most engaging platforms in the world. The platform could be referred to as a narrative (since it is a story-telling business constantly connecting people to understand each other’s context). It is an application with a yellow logo and a white ghost trapped inside of it. The application is now allowing people all over the world to communicate through pictures. It is used for smartphones only, and its main purpose is that it allows the users to send each other snapshots that last up to ten seconds only. A person can choose to upload a “story,” either a picture, a video, or a GIF to their profile, and it only lasts 24 hours after the time it is uploaded.

Through yearly developments, Snapchat now consists of many new characteristics. To begin with, Snapchat now has a feature called “The Snap Map”, where users have the option of sharing their location. In addition, users have options to send pictures for an unlimited number of seconds to their receivers. People can also upload images or videos from their camera roll onto their story. Snapchat uses funny emojis with face recognition to the pictures they share. The photo library has access to user’s cameral roll which saves the Snapchats. Moreover, many other media platforms have joined Snapchat to display their content and advertise.

So why is Snapchat such an important media platform? As globalization and competition are increasing between different businesses, Snapchat still manages to be an important media platform where collaborations and improvements are regularly taking place. Snapchat is evolving into a place where different businesses and newspapers/magazines display ads and content. Webzines, magazines that appear exclusively online, such as Cosmopolitan magazines, are displayed on Snapchat, as are media outlets such as CNN, Daily Mail, Vice, Taste made, MTV, Vogue, People, and National Geographic. Since the application turned from being a simple social media application to one that is now connecting many media outlets together at once, it is positively changing the way business is conducted today. Magazines and news industries are changing and growing rapidly, especially since their content is being distributed to different social media platforms, requiring them to come up with more interesting topics and related articles. In this case, convergence is taking place.

Another application which is commonly used in Snapchat is “Bitmoji”. It is an application that allows Snapchat users to create an emoji with similar features to their faces, to represent themselves through Snapchat to their friends. Many enjoy using Snapchat because of all of all the different entertainments that are offered through it. For example, if one wanted to read an interesting article and then directly view what their friends are up to, it would be the ideal application.

People of all ages are now exposed to content available exclusively through Snapchat, thus creating a positive impact on society. When the user opens the application, they can view the stories that their friends have posted, and the articles featured right below in colorful and attractive colors. The article titles featured are usually captivating, and induce the receivers to open them to have an idea of what the content is about. That being said, everyone is bound to open the articles whether the topics interest them or not. The positive impact of this is that the young people who don’t usually watch news directly view recent news happening around the world through CNN, The Economist, The New Yorker, and other news outlets. They also have access to sport news, and other fun topics to look at through National Geographic, Road Tracker (a page featuring different cars and their features) etc.

In addition to that, individuals are now using this application to express their opinions on their stories about social, personal, political, and business-related matters. For example, many individuals or social influencers choose to include brand reviews as a certain component of their 24-hour stories. This can affect many businesses both positively and negatively because people are most likely to trust what they see on Snapchat, since they are most likely to believe something that is directly recorded by the blogger. It also affects societies and the culture of the world since globalization is increasing with improved communication and connection between people in different parts of the world, always sharing their experiences.

All this exposure is positive and educates many people about different matters, so what other effects does Snapchat have on society? While it has many positive effects apart from the major media convergences it created, it also has negative outcomes. Privacy is no longer present in our culture today since millions of people are regularly sharing details about their lives, whether it be on Snapchat stories or other social media platforms. The constant sharing of pictures and locations on “Snap Map” leads to extreme exposure as well. Moreover, its content is not particularly designed for those receivers of a wide range of age groups. The material that comes along with all those media outlets included in the application is of low culture, meaning it relates directly to popular culture, celebrity-gossip stories and other related news circulated by the mass media. Some of its content could be designed for women only, or adults only. This is where people may have different standpoints on whether Snapchat should be used by and be available to people of all ages.

Furthermore, keeping in mind most kids own either an iPhone or another type of smartphone, they have easy access the content Snapchat has to offer. Parents might want to provide freedom to their children and allow them to own an iPhone and communicate with friends, yet are not satisfied with the fact that their children have exposure to such low culture content. For example, Cosmopolitan is a famous women magazine and is one of the main magazines featured in Snapchat. Its content is designed for women of certain ages, with articles titles such as “what his body language is trying to tell you”, or other related topics that could be sexual. Interested young teenagers are using the application, and are bound to read those articles out of curiosity. This aspect of Snapchat can increase the explicit content the underage is viewing. On the other hand, other receivers of appropriate ages find it attention-grabbing, and are staying up to date with articles, exploring new and different topics frequently.

So, what can the solution to this be? A reasonable suggestion that could be taken into consideration by the Snapchat team, is allowing people under 16 years of age to use their app, but have their content controlled according to their birth date input. Having the users of this application be unaware of this technique in controlling their content, the underage users will not be aware that they are “missing out.” Moreover, it will not encourage them to insert fake birth dates, just like people did in the past when Facebook restricted people under a certain age from creating profiles. Another solution which may negatively impact the magazine Cosmopolitan or Snapchat is by reducing the sex-related content they create. If Snapchat takes the initiative to present this content control issue to Cosmopolitan and other companies, they may amend the articles they propose to Snapchat. The negative way it can possibly impact them is if they simply resign, strongly believing their explicit content is not worth removing. The issues of privacy control and content control can be found in many media outlets, although they may have impressive and positive influences on society. For example, many TV shows can have inappropriate content depending on who is watching it, but have a larger message being delivered to the audience with a positive impact intended for society and culture overall. Moreover, the way in which content is published and distributed differs between each media outlet.

Suits

Suits, a chapter show that premiered in 2011, consists of seven seasons so far. It revolves around the story of a lawyer (Harvey Spector) in need of an associate for a law firm that only hires Harvard Law graduates. He ends up hiring Mike Ross, a college drop-out, to work for him. Even though Mike never went to Harvard Law School and this is a fraud, Spector finds his intelligence the key to his firm’s success. Throughout the series, different issues arise related to law suits, Mike’s career risks, and what the firm can do to deal with those problems. Along with those issues, each character’s personal troubles are highlighted, especially through the two main characters: Mike Ross and his boss Harvey Spector. This TV show also does a great job of expressing the law/business work setting realistically, and the competition that comes along with being a corporate lawyer in a firm.

Suits is a popular show and is available through various media outlets today as media convergence is constantly taking place. It is now available on third and fourth screen, meaning viewers can now watch programs on their smaller screens, instead of making the effort to wait for the next episode on TV, or go to the theatre. Cable TV giants such as HBO and others have made TV shows and programs available through download for those who want to subscribe through video subscription services. On Netflix (an online entertainment company), many movies and TV shows are found, including Suits. Since there as so many ways in which one can watch TV shows today, people have access to both legal and illegal sites. Since some episodes of suits aren’t up to date on Netflix, some fans prefer to watch them illegally on random websites, regardless of the fact that it is a violation in most countries. This is because the characters and everyone else who was part of creating this show should be–and deserve to be–paid and credited for what they have created. Using those websites allows a large number of people to watch whatever they want to and whenever they like to, possible leading to large losses in the industry. As content and photography of shows are constantly improving, people are more likely to be interested in keeping up or watching new programs available through different screens.

Although Suits is focused on an interesting story, it is also used to advertise certain brands, schools, and areas. For example, its shooting location in New York allows fans watching from different countries to get an idea of what life in New York is really about, especially from a lawyer’s perspective. Additionally, since Harvey is a wealthy lawyer in the show, he is always riding in high-end cars such as Audi. The scenes in which this is shown are really noticeable. If a fan of cars was watching this, he might want to purchase this car. Certain handbag brands are also advertised through the outfits that the female characters wear, and the list goes on. While many simply view entertainment shows as solely for entertainment, much more usually is associated with them.

Since this TV show is an entertainment series, it includes back stories that can educate the viewers. Minor alterations can be made in order to make it more educational for the audience. One way this could be done is incorporating significant educational material about law for instance. It could also be done by visualizing realistic life lessons through heavily emphasizing the negative consequences of Mike’s actions, and the weight that he had on the characters in his life. This would be a better approach than to give an impression that whatever immoral decisions he took, he got away with. At the end of the day, everyone is aware that most of what we learn today comes from media and popular culture. If certain things like fraud aren’t presented in the right way to the audience, wouldn’t that teach the young generations that it sometimes may be possible to get away with misconduct?

A large percentage of what people learn comes from the media and the programs that they watch. Suits, as mentioned above, addresses many issues one is likely to confront in reality whether it is personal problems, or those found in work environments. It also includes details about sexual relationships between the characters. Although some may argue it is of low culture, it could also be interpreted as having content of high culture as well. For instance, Harvard Law School, a university of high culture, is mentioned and given importance and attention. If Mike attended law school, he would have found a decent job in a high-end firm. On the other hand, it is interesting to see how his talent managed to a get a job in a respectable firm even though he went to jail. This situation also proves the corruption that takes place in our society from individuals who have the power to do as they please, regardless of the laws and consequences. One can learn a lot from programs if they pay attention to the larger idea being presented.

Conclusion

Over the years, media has become a way for people to express their thoughts opinions, and perceptions on different topics. It is important that communicators, social influencers, publishers etc. target the intended audience yet make their material appropriate for a wide range of ages depending on what it is about. This is important especially because a large age range is active on the media, and most content is available to them in one way or another. Technology today is our key source of information and outlook on the world. TV shows and Social media particularly are playing the biggest roles in important aspects, ranging from business to politics, culture, etc.

In conclusion, through analyzing and interpreting certain publications depicted on media, both Snapchat and Suits have different outcomes on a large audience. The younger generations are getting caught up with technology and media in various forms intensely today. For that reason, controlling what is published is more important than ever. Considering different aspects of what is published and exposed in the media is important to guarantee an insightful future generation, built on high culture and appropriate knowledge.

 

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