Not just for gamers, Discord popularity on the rise


Graphic by Evelyn Shue

As the social media realm continues to expand, it’s important to understand which platforms are genuinely helpful and which ones waste time.

Max Belyantsev, Opinions Writer

We are all living and breathing the effects of a tech revolution. As humans, we are a naturally social species, and with the rise of portable telephones in the late 1990s, it was only a matter of time before the first social media applications gained traction. Today, we are presented with several messaging services that each have unique benefits and drawbacks: iMessage, Discord, Instagram, Snapchat and Google Hangouts.

iMessage is one of the most widespread ways that millions of people talk with one another. It is a texting method alternative to SMS/MMS text messaging only available for iPhone, iPad, and Mac users. iMessage is integrated into Apple’s ecosystem, sends and receives messages through a WiFi or cellular connection and is connected to Apple ID, whereas SMS relies solely on your cellular carrier and cell phone service availability. “One thing which I think iMessage has which none of the other strict messaging platforms really have is basically everyone has it,” sophomore Leo Lidl said. “[using iMessage] is a lot more convenient than having to ask them if they have Instagram or something like that.”

Unfortunately, a divide has formed between blue and green bubbles that differentiate iPhone users from Android users. “Green-bubble” recipients cannot take advantage of iMessage stickers, reactions, “read” and “delivered” status, playing games through GamePigeon and more. In a group chat with only iPhone users, everyone enjoys the features listed above; once an Android user joins, however, everyone loses that added functionality. This division takes away from the platform’s overall benefit however, it is not enough for most to steer away from the app. “In the past, I’ve had problems with it if I’ve been trying to video call people but for straight-up messaging, it doesn’t interfere,” Lidl said.

Instagram and Snapchat are fierce competitors in the social media realm. Both platforms have feeds that let users explore content, directly message their friends and share posts with followers on their Stories. Though they require an internet connection, they are convenient with both public and private ways of communicating and contacting others. 

Aside from location tracking and other reasonable concerns regarding privacy, the issue with any app that has thousands of posts at your fingertips is the inevitable zombification that kills productivity. These apps take away hours and feed repetitive content that is hit or miss. However, this can depend on how the messaging app is used. “I will scroll through posts and stuff [on Instagram]. If I need to message someone on Instagram, it’s like a separate section,” sophomore Daniel Chernyak said.

Those who want to stay far from the addictive force of social media messaging apps should turn to Discord. A relatively new up-and-comer since its release in 2015, Discord is a semi-private group messaging platform that has seen immense growth over the course of the pandemic, especially with virtual communication being in demand. 

Communities of users create servers, consisting of specialized text and voice channels, based on common interests and shared experiences. Friend groups can reach each other without external distractions using Discord. “I am a discord fanatic. It’s very great,” Chernyak said. “The servers are so fun. Like you can organize all that jazz and make different servers for different things, and it’s very nice. … You form group chats… and it’s very fun.”

There are other amicable components to Discord that resulted in its explosion in popularity. “I like to use Discord because it works on my computer as well as on my phone. And I tend to use my phone a lot more than I use my computer so that kind of accessibility is important to me,” senior Arman Sagmanligil said. “A lot of video games or YouTubers or streamers tend to have discords that I can join where I can get notifications as to their streams or their videos being released.” Discord gives content creators a very streamlined and efficient way to reach their fanbases, something that is just as useful and valuable to large YouTubers as it is to school clubs and organizations that must coordinate large amounts of people.

Google Hangouts, currently in the process of being replaced by Google Chat, is a well-known and reliable messaging service that operates in the Google suite of applications. It is a private messaging platform that is conveniently integrated into the Google ecosystem which can help reduce the number of accounts users have to keep track of. Unfortunately, it can’t quite match iMessage’s plentiful features and ultimate convenience, or Discord’s added large-group functionality.

For some RM students, the most favorable messaging service— having the best combination of varied communication channels, usability and compatibility — is Discord. However, it depends on what features you enjoy while you send your friends relatable memes or rant about the Chem lab report that is due tomorrow. All in all, it is important to try some of the better options out there, but be aware when too much time is wasted and choose the few apps that best fit your needs.