Digital Insights: 2016 Year in Review

Red Twinkly Lights for POVsHere are some of our favourite posts from 2016! Enjoy, and happiest of holidays everyone!

Favourite things we learned in 2016:

How the Internet Picks Its Boyfriends: “We’re all in love with Oscar Isaac now. He’s filling up your Tumblr dash, blanketing your Twitter feed, and featuring in your daydreams. He is the internet’s new boyfriend… finding expression in GIFs, quotes, and photos. When real men disappoint … the internet’s boyfriend is a paragon of enlightened masculinity, constructed by committee.”

#WhatIsYourLoneliestPhoto was a popular hashtag in China

Favourite Memes and What They Mean: From “Damn, Daniel”, to that photo of Zuckerberg walking through an auditorium of virtual reality headsets, to Bernie Sanders, “There’s a space — a very important space — that memes occupy… They speak in a language that people have grown up with on social media … which can make them very articulate and very poignant.” Also: What was the deal with Marina Joyce? And the unexpected joys of the First Seven Jobs meme.

The Tinder Dating Pool Isn’t Completely Shallow: “Three years ago, Tinder was considered a hookup app… Now people are joining Tinder because it’s efficient and easy to use, and everyone seems to be on it.”

Investigating the Potential for Miscommunication Using Emoji: Emoji look different on different devices, which “can cause people to misinterpret the emotion and the meaning of emoji-based communication, in some cases quite significantly…”

And Adults Are Using Emoji the Wrong Way: The blushing smiley face is NOT a way to say you’re flattered. Teens use it to convey polite romantic refusal, “Hi. Um. Not interested. Sorry? Sorry!”

Confirm Shaming: Have you noticed how more and more websites are using this tactic in trying to get people to sign up for their newsletters or register for accounts? Where the “no thanks” option says something passive aggressive like, “no, I don’t like movies” or “no, let us fail.”

Self-Deprecation is Taking Over the Internet: “Social media is often called out as an outlet for bragging… A popular internet trope is now the antisocial individual, the homebody, the push back from scenesters. It’s now all about revelling in singledom, jokes about therapy sessions, the terror of being an adult or putting it out there that hitting a club can actually be pretty hellish. And slumming it on the couch? Heaven.”

WeChat Is Extending China’s School Days Well into the Night: “The app is a forum for extra homework and a billboard for misbehaviour at school, and the group chat puts everything under the scrutinizing eye of the entire class.”

(((Echoes))): Why are people putting brackets around their name on Twitter?

Breadcrumbing: Another name for “the digital tease,” like when an old friend faves your photos but never gets in touch directly, or sends non-committal text messages like ‘sup’ without any follow-up.  

Polite Google Searches: Did you hear about the charming grandmother who thought her Google search queries would be answered more quickly if she included ‘please’ and ‘thank you’?

Pokémon Go – Tons of Good Articles: We compiled all of the articles and links shared among the WW Planning network into One! Big! List! Check it out.

Virtual Assistants and Misunderstandings: Siri has trouble understanding English-language accents and unusual names.

Mistaken Identity: People are getting emails meant for strangers with the same name as them, so they’re taking to Twitter to post some of the craziest updates.

Farewell Full Stop: The period at the end of sentences is “going out of style” thanks to instant messaging; “in an instant message, it is pretty obvious a sentence has come to an end, and none will have a full stop

New Email Rules: It’s time for all of us to stop writing “I hope you’re well” (“a hollow greeting that has come to mean nothing”); in fact, it’s time for brevity, no greeting, no sign-off, three sentences or fewer.

There’s No Such Thing as “Authenticity”: “Think about it: You act differently with your mother than you do with your boss, and you follow rules and norms and fashions with which you might not strictly agree… No one is ever truly ‘authentic’: and that’s an unequivocally positive, prosocial thing… The selfies, the filters, the thirsty status updates: Each of these breaks the cardinal rule of a very ancient social game. You can and must ‘fake’ your identity, just to survive, but no one’s supposed to see you play.”

How Come Chewbacca Mom Got Free Tuition While “On Fleek” Creator Got Nothing? “Black users of social media often have a comparable—if not larger—effect on the digital conversation and create moments, pictures, jokes, and movements that deeply root themselves into the mass culture. Yet… that’s often ignored when it comes to big payouts for fleeting social media fame.”

Echo Chambers & Quitting Social Media

The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb: “What is emerging is the worst kind of echo chamber, one where those inside are increasingly convinced that everyone shares their world view…”

Social Media and the Filter Bubbles: Tons of articles on the topic of quitting social media, as people have been frustrated with the filter bubble and empathy bubble of the Silicon Valley.


13 Right Now: This is a great long read, the whole article offers interesting perspectives into the role of technology in the life of a 13-year-old girl, full of rituals, symbols and emerging habits.

Video Games Are Key Elements in Friendships for Many Boys: This Pew Research explores the different ways in which gaming helps young boys socialize; “I play with everyone… I play with friends and then I meet new people through those friends.”

How to Snapchat Like Teens: The writer’s young sister schools him in the etiquette, habits and teenage of teenage Snapchat, like “No conversations…it’s mostly selfies. Depending on the person, the selfie changes. Like, if it’s your best friend, you make a gross face, but if it’s someone you like or don’t know very well, it’s more regular.”

Teen Girls Flip The Negative Script On Social Media: “For many teen girls, the Internet can be a hateful place. To counter the negativity, they’ve been coming up with their own social media solutions.”

Social Media Lives of Teens: Another great long read, offering an almost anthropological perspective on teen social media usage. And did you know that teens are cleaning out their Instagram accounts so that they only show the best 25 photos?


Online Mom Culture Not a “Cesspool of Judgment”: “There’s been a long held assumption that competition and insecurity, rather than camaraderie and support, are the driving force behind the rise of online mom culture… In short: Millennial moms are more assured in their parenting and most likely to seek advice online.”

The Problem with Two Minute Warnings: “Maybe instead of easing a child’s transition away from screens, a two-minute warning prepares them to fight it.”

Kids’ Screen Time is a Feminist Issue: Are complaints about kids spending too much time on devices just another way to make Moms feel like they’re not doing a good enough job?

The End of Mommyblogging? With worries about her kids’ privacy and autonomy, a writer describes “Why I Decided to Stop Writing About My Children.”

Perspectives Beyond Our Tech Early Adopter Lives

The Facebook-Loving Farmers of Myanmar: “Until recently the military junta [in Myanmar] had imposed artificial caps on access to smartphones and SIM cards. Many of the farmers we spoke with had never owned a smartphone before… They use Facebook every day. They feel that spending data on Facebook is a worthwhile investment.”

For Refugees, a Digital Passage to Europe: “Social media, mobile apps, online maps, instant messaging, translation websites, wire money transfers, cell phone charging stations, and Wi-Fi hotspots have created a new infrastructure for movement as critical as roads or railways. Together, these technologies make up a digital passage that is accelerating the massive flow of people from places like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to Greece, Germany, and Norway.”

5 Years After The Egyptian Revolution: This is a fascinating interview with Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who helped launch the Egyptian revolution, discussing “What do you do after you’ve occupied the ‘Square’ or the ‘Park’ and the government starts countermoves? How do you think these movements that are fueled by social media will evolve to tackle these problems?”