Gemma Styles | Contributing writer | Saturday, 15 August 2015

Gemma Styles

Gemma Styles: What Social Media Means To Me

The Debrief: Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter - how do use yours? Gemma Styles delves into her social media diaries and explains how she uses each platform

Photographed by Matilda Hill-Jenkins

 Potentially earth-shattering news!!! (Just kidding.) This week, Twitter announced that they are removing the 140-character limit from their direct messages – I’ll be honest, on hearing this, I was not immediately blown away. Apparently this is a big deal and is going to change the way we use Twitter; but my instant reaction could definitely be described as ‘apathetic with a hint of sarcastic side eye’. 

And then I realised - HOLD ON - this is going to change the way we use Twitter. Of course! It’s going to be less annoying! This should be a good thing but is actually a bit of a disaster. Allow me to explain. DMs have always been wonderful in their levels of irritation due to one simple phrase…

'Annoying to chat on here, text me 07*********.'

MUAHAHA. In one simple move, you’ve gone from sliding into their DMs to having actual text or email conversations like people who know each other. Progress! Let the friending/networking/flirting begin.

All this social subterfuge got me thinking about how I use different online mediums in general. So here’s my basic run down of day-to-day digital dalliances. 


The original – but not necessarily best. I think Facebook is kind of like that ratty old jumper you have in a drawer somewhere for when you’re ill or especially cold… you know you barely wear it but can’t quite bring yourself to chuck it out. Facebook was pretty cool back in the day. When they finally opened it up to us regular schmucks without a university email address it was quite the occasion. Now however, Facebook is more about your circle of friends and wider acquaintances. Around 30% of posts seem to be someone or another asking for a recommendation of a reasonably priced plumber in the E9 area or announcing that a friend of a friend has a room going in Holborn for £800pcm. Stuff that’s not quite for strangers - but needs a wider search net than your inner texty circle.


Personally I love Tumblr – it’s kind of like online mood boarding. I can’t get into Pinterest because it seems like a lot more effort… if I’m collecting up bits of pictures that I like I don’t then want to have to implement an elaborate filing system, thank you. Tumblr is quite stream-of-consciousness-y. If there’s a song I’m playing on repeat that day or an amazing photo set (or someone has made a hilariously relatable text post about toasters) then posting it on Tumblr is my online equivalent of grabbing some blu-tack and sticking it on my bedroom wall. It’s also a pretty safe way to communicate with a lot more people without having to give out a lot of details – love me an ask box.


Instagram is pretty straightforward as far as I’m concerned. As humans we’re generally pretty visual creatures – having moved on from vintage Facebook or MSN statuses letting people know what we’re up to, now we can just take a picture of it instead. Worth a thousand words, or so they say. It basically just takes your life and makes it prettier. As I’ve talked about before, it’s worth remembering that browsing someone’s Instagram feed tends to be a rose-tinted version of actual events, but when you’ve spent three hours making a cake and have a deep need for social media praise – best believe you’re gonna filter it so the icing looks drop-dead professional. Bake Off is back and we’re all in competition people.


Whatsapp is perfect for one thing – group messages. You can send pictures and videos for free and see who’s received and read what. Easy organisation and kind of the phone equivalent of an unstructured shouting match in the pub when there’s ten of you discussing plans for food or clothes or Secret Santa or your holiday or Friday night or Rachel from HR’s baby shower. Except loads quieter. And with a mute button for when it all gets too much.


So back to Twitter. Now it’s not so good for sneakily getting someone’s number (or vice versa) what are we left with? Personally I use it a lot for news – of course there are trending topics for more pop cultural stuff, but I follow quite a few actual news accounts and do find it one of the easiest ways to keep at least a vague grasp of what’s going on in the world. It’s also the best platform (imho) for getting the word out to lots of people, fast, so is a great way to help spread messages and awareness when the proverbial poop hits the fan.

Of course this is just me. It would be interesting to know if I’m missing any tricks with my social media use. If you’ve come up with a social escalation strategy to save us all now that the good ship DM has decided to allow essay texts, please GOD blog about it and/or tweet us @GemmaAnneStyles and @TheDebrief with your cunning plans, and we'll compile a collection of our favourite bits... 

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

Gemma Styles: Are You The Facebook Couple We All Hate?

Gemma Styles: We Need To Lower Our Standards To Get A Date Now?

Gemma Styles: Why The Internet Is Positive For Us All

Photographed by Matilda Hill-Jenkins
With thanks to Airbnb

Tags: Online chat, Gemma Styles