Editorial – Social media app video functions – how many do you need to communicate?

Mac Olsen

A friend’s recent comment, ‘I don’t do FaceTime’ got me thinking about the overabundance of video functions that we have on our social media apps.

There are many social media apps with a video function out there – Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp and Viber are among them – and it’s like, how many apps do you require on your smartphone, tablet or computer to communicate with others.

It’s not like you are getting exclusive access to a particular technology or social media platform, with more advanced bells and whistles, as they all perform in the same manner.

I have certainly found the video function for Facebook’s messenger app to be useful and I use it quite frequently.

However, I laugh when I see people beaming their “live” presentations on Facebook for the whole world to see. Maybe they want to share their political opinion, a hunting adventure or their wedding announcement with the world.

What is the end result they are expecting: praise and congratulations or a change in the direction of human civilization?

And if the “live” function on Facebook is insufficient to get their message out to the world, do they plan to use similar apps to get that message out?

This may seem much ado about nothing. After all, social media apps and their functions have been with us for quite some time. Likely, most of us take it for granted that we have them as every day tools for communication.

We’ve certainly come a long way from the rotary telephone and the novelty that that means of communication afforded us for generations.

Of course, the novelty of a hand-held communicator, as pronounced by the ‘Star Trek’ TV series in the 1960s, seemed to be a genuine possibility within our lifetimes.

Entering the 2010s, we now take smartphones, social media, WiFi and the other instruments of techology as every day commonalities.

But, returning to the issue of why we have so many social media apps with video functionality, there has to be a point where we reach saturation and should call a halt to it all.

And I think that we will soon reach it. I hope we do, because, as I said above they all do the same thing. Why have so many if you don’t need them all?

I have tried to use Skype more frequently, especially for work when the person I have to interview is far away. But, 99 per cent of the time, I am using the audio function on my smartphone for that purpose.

One place where I see the live video function as practical for the masses is online training, especially when there are cost savings for travel.

In February, I had to take a course with a government agency online. I didn’t have the time or money to travel to that office, because it was so far away, so I appreciated having the ability to take that training through my computer at home.

And an online tool like this is good for distance learning in post-secondary education, too.

I am not saying that the video functions on social media apps aren’t worthy. I’m just saying that you don’t require a dozen or more to communicate your message with others and/or the rest of the world.


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