Credentials in the Digital World

2020 confronted students with a revolution in digital learning. As learning was taken fully online, both students and educators had to adjust to new tools, techniques, and standards for teaching and learning.  

Part of the changes that folks faced was in evaluating the cost and value of their education. In tangent to this revolution in further education, digital learning unaffiliated with colleges and universities has been on the rise.  

Websites like Lynda, LinkedIn, Coursera, and plenty of others all offer courses that can significantly improve a learner’s skills while quantifying their achievements through a digital certificate. Some companies including Hootsuite and Microsoft also offer digital certifications evaluating competencies with their software. Interestingly, Microsoft has taken the avenue of offering digital certificates on multiple platforms. Some of these certificates are paid and go in depth. These include those offered by Microsoft on their website, and cover topics related to Microsoft’s software. Others are free and cover the basics of using software like Office 365, with the option to pay for a certificate at the end of the course. But how can we evaluate the quality and value of these certificates when so many exist, and no overarching structure exists to compare them? An interview with a professional in the field may help clarify this.  


My friend Jake works at Microsoft. He’s one of the smartest people I know, to the point where I get him to go over most of my written work, including many of the articles on this website. I brought him in to ask some questions about digital learning and online certificates.  

I’ve personally taken some courses on LinkedIn Learning, but even there the quality and depth of courses varied too much to know how employers might value them. On the other hand, I’ve taken courses directly with Hootsuite, and in being quantified by the company itself, I felt like these were more valuable.  

Here’s some of what Jake had to say:  

I wouldn’t be calling you an industry professional if there wasn’t a grain of truth in that title. Can you talk a bit about what you do and how it’s changed in 2020?  

Jake: When the lockdown began in March, I was working retail at the Microsoft store – where selling computers was secondary to building the company’s brand by offering tech support and free training. Once the lockdown shock wore off though, we were reorganized into remote stores; I was put into a training group, and my full-time job since then has been delivering remote training on all sorts of Microsoft products. So in a way, the core of what I do hasn’t changed all that much; I’m still responsible for adding value to the brand by making sure companies, schools, and governments know how to use the tools that they’ve already purchased. Despite Microsoft’s monolithic status in the computer world right now, they’re still playing catch-up when it comes to awareness. 

From your point of view, how do employers value the different levels of digital certificates?  

Jake: It really depends on the company, and sometimes it comes down to the individual who’s reviewing your profile. Something like a LinkedIn Learning certificate might only be of note to someone who is familiar with it and what the certification process entails. This is symptomatic of the awareness deficit I mentioned earlier – while LinkedIn is certainly well-known, it’s by no means ubiquitous. And since there are so many certs on LinkedIn Learning (over 16,000!) it can be hard to know exactly what kind of work someone had to put in to earn the badge.  

Now, if you’re looking at industry specific certs, and especially company specific certs like the ones offered by Microsoft directly, there you see a larger interest from employers. Those certs are custom tailored to their environments. If an employer sees one of their own certs on your resume, they have a much better idea of the kind of work you had to do to earn it. 

You mentioned badges, which I think is an important part of this discussion. Can you tell me more about badges?  

Jake: Right, so a badge in this case refers to anything that signifies your proficiency in a product or service. It’s almost interchangeable with ‘certification,’ but not quite; the point of the badge is that it’s partially a reward you can display on a profile or landing page that says to everyone: “Hey, I’m proud of this achievement and I want you to see it.” A badge allows you to measure your growth visually and display that growth on a virtual shelf for others to admire (and take note of, in the case of employers). 


I’ll take a moment here to expand on badges. A digital badge can be defined as: 

“A clickable graphic that contains an online record of  

  1. an achievement,  
  1. the work required for the achievement,  
  1. evidence of such work, and  
  1. information about the organization, individual or entity that issued the badge.  

This definition is taken from Lemoine and Richardson, 2015, but I’ve quoted it from the UNESCO report on digital credentialing. One thing that the report does well is outline the distinct types of digital credentials out there, as well as what the benefits and risks might be of each level of digital credential.  

Badges, as can be seen above, are useful in their ability to point to specific achievements or the completion of a course. As Jake puts it, badges point to something important in a visual manner. It’s about as tangible as it gets when it comes to digital certifications.  

As they become more widely implemented, badges will also be able to hyperlink to both the course and the test required to earn them. Not only will this help make digital certifications more transparent, it will also break down some of the barriers that exist in transferring skills and certifications internationally. Being able to see the full process behind a credential makes it clearer to see whether it’s like a different course or test. But let’s get back to our expert.  


If you think about Microsoft itself, do you get a sense of how the company would value digital certificates?  

Jake: As you mentioned, Microsoft has two different streams of certs it looks at: LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Certifications. LinkedIn courses are generally seen by Microsoft as snacks – little bonus certs that can prove basic competencies and speak to goal alignments between the employer and prospective employee. The real deals are those MS Certs, which involve proctored exams and intense study over weeks or months to prove mastery of the content. Those are more valuable because they demonstrate a much more thorough and practical understanding of skillsets relevant to specific streams of employment – data science, software engineering, administration, and so on. 

Ed: I like that you call them little snacks, I think it paints a great picture of the differences that exist between those Microsoft Certifications and other online courses that you can find anywhere. I think it also rings true in other industries. I know that something like a PMP is going to be a lot more impactful on a resume then simply having taken a LinkedIn Learning course about project management. At least, no one has reached out to me since taking that LinkedIn course! 

What about when the certificate is related to one of Microsoft’s product?  

Jake: That really depends on the job you’re after. If you’re applying for a cloud engineering position and you have great Excel skills but no Azure certs, they’re not going to be overly impressed. Conversely, if I were applying for the job I have now, having LinkedIn certifications for the basics like Microsoft 365, Power Platform, Public Speaking, and Social Selling would have way more of an impact than the highly technical certs. It’s all about targeting your effort toward the certs that align best with your goal.  

One last question for you Jake, how do you see digital credentialing involving into 2021? What role do you think digital credentials will play?  

Jake: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Microsoft during this pandemic, it’s the importance of reskilling. Their whole retail division has been turned on its head, and the new responsibilities that have thrust onto its workers have in some ways demanded that they rapidly reskill to keep up. For many, that means collecting certifications as quickly as they can. And I think that really shows the dynamism of some industries that rely heavily on credentialling; in a post-Covid world, where people have become more cognizant of the weaknesses and gaps in socio-economic safety structures, the ability to reskill and to prove that you’ve acquired new, usable knowledge will be even more valuable. Companies are paying more attention, and some, as we’ve seen with Microsoft and LinkedIn, are making certifications more accessible. 


I think Jake said it best. Reskilling is becoming more commonplace, which is great for folks ready to move on to greener pastures, but it’s important that reskilling doesn’t become an expectation from the part of employers. It’s not because of the availability of digital credentialing and developing new skills that this should be done without cause. It still is a lot of work to take classes on a topic, especially if the end goal is to become quite good at whatever the class is about.  

While the future is unpredictable, digital credentialing, micro credentialing, and digital badges all present unique opportunities for future learners. It’s an exciting time for everyone involved in academia, and as both a current and former student, I look forward to see what learning opportunities are available to me in the future.  


Lemoine, P. A., & Richardson, M. D. (2015). Micro-credentials, nano degrees, and digital badges: New credentials for global higher education. International Journal of Technology and Educational Marketing (IJTEM), 5(1), 36-49. 

Digital Credentialing – Implications for the recognition of learning across borders 

Further reading here, as well as here 

Revival of Vintage

I’m prone to rambling on about technology and social media. This is true in my day to day, and it’s true in my writing. Despite my best efforts to be concise, I always have to mention rising trends in tech and media. Luckily, the goal today is to focus on a trend related to returning to past technology.  

In the last few years, many people have sought older technology. Some find it to be more reliable than the newest gadget, while for others it’s nostalgia that drives their search for the old and the vintage. Regardless of the reasons, new communities have risen as a response to this movement, and analog technology has seen a significant rise in use and collection in the last few years. I’ll be looking at four of those less than contemporary technologies and trying to break down the why’s and how’s for their return.  

Almost Analog  

Before we begin talking about the true vintage technology, there’s been an interesting rise in almost analog that I want to speak to. This trend comes in part as a response to the hoarding of DVDs and CDs that happened from the 90’s to the 2000’s. It’s not rooted in any true return to old technology but rather is a convenient response to the rise of media streaming.  

DVDs were a popular alternative to VHS. When Blu-ray came along, DVDs didn’t become entirely obsolete, but some folks did begin making a transition away from them. With the additional pressure to move away from DVDs brought on by streaming, the result were massive hoards of DVDs to be pawned off for cheap. Some people have jumped on this opportunity to collect as many as they can and create truly impressive collections of movies that can be watched at any time without an internet connection. Something similar has happened with CDs, as they’ve seen a similar life cycle and remain accessible.  

Along with this newfound appreciation for CDs and DVDs came a newfound appreciation for the technology that actually runs those disks. CD and DVD players are becoming scarcer, and as such are being cherished in their ability to make use of what would otherwise have been discarded technology. Along with that comes the mobile equivalent through people collecting players like the iPod Classic. Many people have let go of their MP3 collections, and don’t have a convenient way to play those files anymore.  


Cathode-ray tube televisions are also making a comeback. While their use is somewhat less prominent because of a limited utility, they are seeing a resurgence in specific circles. This trend has been ongoing for quite some time with articles about it dating back at least to 2018, but it continues to this day.  

One circle in which CRT televisions have come back in a big way is in the Super Smash Bros. community. Without going into specifics, Super Smash Bros., and especially Super Smash Bros. Melee, require the lowest possible latency and input lag, something a CRT television can provide. This has led to many people in the scene to collect them and even lug them around to competitions.  

While the resurgence of CRT TVs hasn’t seen as profound of a movement as the other technologies we’ll be getting into, it’s important to mention because it shows a return to older technology on behalf of a younger crowd. It also doesn’t rely as heavily on nostalgia. Nancy, the owner of a decluttering business has this to say about the resurgence of analog media:  

“I think a part of it is that people have too much stuff. As some people get rid of their old things, others are bound to pick them up. That means things that people have a lot of like CDs, DVDs, books, and magazines are in this cycle where they get handed down from one person to the next. There’s also a lot of appeal for vintage goods, and what ends up happening is that people who like vintage end up collecting a lot of it. Some people that had decluttered also find themselves in a wave of nostalgia and end up recollecting items. Eventually they have to let some of it go, and that’s when you see younger people pick those items up.”  

Records and LP’s 

Along with the surge in demand for old television sets is the newfound demand for records and LPs. While I understand that technically speaking all LPs are records but not all records are LPs, I’ll be using the two terms interchangeable. The demand for records is driven by a few different factors but isn’t limited to vintage records and LPs. In fact, records outsold CDs in 2020, and this is in part because modern artists are releasing their albums on vinyl.  

Where it concerns true vintage records, the vinyl revival is mostly led by proponents who claim that records sound better than modern recordings. There’s also a case to be made for truly rare records that won’t be found on other mediums, such as classic and indie EPs. Unlike modern EPs, vintage EPs were often small-scale productions with limited distribution, making them quite rare. Whether for the quality of the music or because of the rarity of the record, sound is the biggest driver behind the vinyl revival.  

Another reason for the resurgence of vinyl is the aesthetic of it. While not as many people are jumping on the trend purely because of how vinyl looks, it is an important reason behind the production of new record players. The vinyl vibe is real and is a part of a larger mid-century revival. While these fans of records won’t be as dedicated to the revival of LPs as an analog technology, they’ll continue to subtlety support it.  

Finally, some fandoms and specific subgenres of music have found success in newly established communities entirely dedicated to vinyl LPs. One notable community can be found on reddit. Members of this community focus on finding vinyl records relating to video game soundtracks and music. This is one example of a community finding solid footing in the vinyl revival.  


In the photography sphere, the return to vintage and analog technology comes as a direct result of the advances that have been made to cameras and photography in the last few years. In the past, photographers would have to be extremely careful in lining up their shots. They would be limited in the number of pictures they could take on a single film, and they wouldn’t be able to preview those pictures before they were developed. This made photography a difficult hobby because it relied heavily on being in the right place at the right time.  

Nowadays, cameras aren’t limited in the number of pictures they can take. That’s not to say that there isn’t a limit to how much memory they have, but rather, memory is so cheap and commonplace that the number of pictures that can be stored is essentially unlimited, even though technically a limit exists.  

The concept of being in the right place at the right time has also been eroded by technological advances. New cameras have such powerful autofocuses that they can take multiple pictures in a single click and can automatically recommend the best picture based on the focus of the subject. Not only that, but these can all be previewed before a picture is kept or not. While this hasn’t made photography any easier in terms of choosing subjects and editing pictures to highlight them, some folks believes new cameras have taken the art out of photography.  

One notable trend in the return to vintage photography is the rebirth of instant cameras. Popular a few decades ago, instant cameras have returned as a way to capture the moment in a physical memento. The idea is that digital pictures can’t capture a moment if they’re never looked at again, so instant cameras provide a way to make that memory tangible. There’s also been a return to older style cameras, but the complexity of developing pictures from film remains a barrier to using these. After all, it’s one of the main reasons why digital cameras became the new standard soon after they came out.  

NakeyJakey & the Millennial-Zoomer

NakeyJakey is a YouTuberTwitch streamer, and musician. More so, NakeyJakey is a mouthpiece for the strange intergenerational gap that exist between Millennials and Zoomers. These not-quite-digital-natives were born at a time where internet and digital culture was blossoming but not established. They saw the rise of video games as a major part of the entertainment industry but weren’t born into an established video game industry. They grew up with cassette tapes and VHS, knew how to use their grandparents’ rotary phones, but have grown into fully digitalized adults. This peculiar combination of experience is highlighted in many of Jakey’s videos which cover nostalgia focused topics like scholastic book fairs, as well as the emergence of digital trends that are weird even to these would-be Zoomers, like the rise of esports.  

I want to examine some of ideas behind Jakey’s videos while further framing the conversation through the lens of experiences that this intergenerational group lived through. To do that, I’ll be breaking down the media that shaped that shared experience: music, movies, TV, and video games.  


It’s difficult to frame the exact experience that folks have had with music. Music is an inherently cultural thing, and experiences with music will be influenced by where someone might have lived while changes were happening. Much like Jakey, I lived in a smaller, semi-rural town growing up, and my experience with music was influenced by my ability to go to a larger city. For me, that meant virtually no concerts growing up, as well as an almost constant delay with what was trending.  

Despite this, many of these pseudo-Zoomers grew up with analog technology around them. It would have been common to see cassette tapes around the house, and their parents might still have had their Walkman despite the CD having been around for a while before the 90’s. This puts our Millennial-Zoomers in the middle of the revolution from analog music to pseudo-digital-CDs, which were physical despite being transferable to computers. These would in turn become MP3s – both the file type and the music player.  

This revolution in the way that music was kept would be pushed further with the parallel growth of the digital space. Jakey has a video outlining the experience of downloading music  online, often illegally. This experience shaped many and would in turn pave the way for media streaming.  

Another line of parallel growth that spread popular music, pirating culture, and a common shared experience was MTV and the Warped Tour. This was of course the later MTV, just near the end of its music era as grunge left the spotlight. This explosion of skate and pop punk would emerge just as early Zoomers became teens, and their shared angst would come to a head when even wholesome family cartoons like Scooby-Doo would get a pop-punk makeover. This would-be rebel attitude would break down the moral barriers to pirating music, all the while popularizing pop, punk, and related genres.  

“The band Simple Plan is strongly connected to What’s New, Scooby-Doo?. They perform the theme song and appeared as themselves in the episode ‘Simple Plan and the Invisible Madman’. Two of their songs appeared in chase scenes: ‘I’d Do Anything’ in the episode ‘It’s Mean, It’s Green, It’s the Mystery Machine’ and ‘You Don’t Mean Anything’ in ‘Simple Plan and the Invisible Madman’”

This is an important event to underline, as it marks the beginning of Gen Z’s viability as consumer market that can be catered to. Eventually, music streaming would become… mainstream, and Millennial-Zoomers would turn to platforms like Spotify and Apple Music to listen to their favourite albums, music groups, and songs. This is still the status quo, although something can be said for the niche movement to return to analog media. 


The 90’s relied heavily on VHS. While DVD was invented halfway through the decade, most movie collections were VHS, and most Millennial-Zoomers grew up watching VHS rather than DVD. It was a slow process to begin amassing a DVD collection, and this always came after the initial costs of upgrading the television set and buying a DVD player. Because of the slow transition and the unavailability of certain films on DVD, many families had both VHS and DVD players well into the 2000’s. A key event for these Millennial-Zoomers is the integration of a DVD player with the Sony PlayStation 2, which came out in 2000. This would provide them a way to watch movies on their consoles, something that would eventually become more commonplace.  

Along with the transition from VHS to DVD, early late Millennials also experienced the second wave of Star Wars fandom. With the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, many of them would be taken to the theatre for the first time. Even late bloomers would be able to find Star Wars in their theatres as late as 2002, when Attack of the Clones released. This would spark an interest in going to see movies in theatres, but the rise of the home release would balance this out soon enough. The role of theatres has certainly changed in the last few years, and with the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, their existence in the future is uncertain at best.  

One of the issues that movie theatres faced in the early 2000’s is the rise of formulaic movies. Jakey speaks of Disney Channel Original Movies as being a staple of his childhood, but one that wasn’t very engaging despite the effort being put in the production of these movies. In parallel to Disney Channel Movies came Hallmark Channel Movies, which would churn out formulaic Christmas feelgood movies to the present day. As movies lost their charm, Zoomers lost interest in going to theatrical releases. Folks kept amassing DVDs and would develop a culture of watching movies at home when there was nothing else to do. This was similar in nature to the hoarding of CD’s, with the remnants of the trends appearing at garage sales everywhere since.  

This brings us to the current era of movie watching. People have gotten used to watching movies at home and the appeal of the theatre has gone down, especially in these pandemic times. This has also allowed movies to adapt to smaller budgets and more experimental takes, as their core revenue isn’t from box office releases anymore. Overall, the culture of both watching movies and going out to movies has changed significantly for Millennial-Zoomers. They’ve seen the rise and fall of plenty of genres and styles, and this has made them sceptical of future trends.  

Cartoons and Television 

It was Millennials who saw the change from cable to network TV. Being able to access channels from all over made television more interesting than ever. Television was already established as an essential in every home, but this greater diversity in programming only worked to reinforce that trend. In turn, kids and teenagers would watch shows that would cater to them, and these would become classic of their childhood. This is certainly true for Millennials, who saw the rise of accessible cartoons, cartoons that would also become classics like the Simpsons.  

Zoomers saw a similar pattern emerge through their experience with television. Cartoons improved in quality and became more commonplace. Zoomers had access to a plethora of new shows covering new topics, and new heroes would shape their childhood form the 90’s well into the 2000’s. One notable trend was the rise of anime. Millennial-Zoomers would be the first generation to see the widespread distribution of anime to their television sets and shows like Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and Cowboy Bebop would demark themselves as classics for that generation.  

While some Millennial-Zoomers were too young to enjoy shows targeted for adults like the Simpsons, King of the Hill, and other weirder shows of the 90’s, some shows would still come to revolutionize the genre well into the future. Genndy Tartakovsky would be a major driving force in this revolution, creating what I would call the most distinctive animation style of the 90’s, characterized by shows like Samurai Jack, The Powerpuff Girls, and Dexter’s Laboratory. The 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars series would also fuel the flames of the Star Wars fandom reignited since 1999.  

One show that deserves particular mention, both for me personally and as an important steppingstone towards the absurdist Zoomer humour I mentioned in a previous article, is The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. The Grim Adventures would feature the iconic Tartakovsky style but would also deal with topics that other cartoons would avoid. These darker themes would create a sense of understanding between Millennials and Zoomers, an understanding founded in the dark shows of the 90’s like The Ren & Stimpy Show and Rocko’s Modern Life.  

In turn, these darker topics would become staples of later Zoomer shows that would rely heavily on a certain absurdism. These shows would present a certain nostalgia to Millennial-Zoomers and would come to be classics in their own right. Shows like Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, and of course Rick & Morty all call back to a certain brand of confusion based in the 90’s, and there lies their appeal.  

Video Games 

The last key to understanding the media that would shape intergenerational Zoomers is video games. Zoomers and Millennials both see video games as an essential part of their childhood and teenage years, and this remains the case to this day.  

To understand the importance of video games, we have to go back to about 1995. While this date coincides with the intergenerational period between Millennials and Zoomers, it also marks the release of the first PlayStation console. One year later, the Nintendo 64 would come out. While the release of these home video game consoles would mark the childhood of Zoomers and Millennials alike, it would be internet connectivity that would change everything.  

With the internet came a new brand of video games. As computer fluency was on the rise, young animators and creators began creating short video games that ran on Adobe’s Flash Player. These flash games would be the introduction to video games for many Zoomers. It would also become a major source of entertainment through the sheer volume of games and content being created. Unlike television shows which still suffered from long production periods, new flash games would come out each week, ready to be enjoyed by all. Jakey also speaks at length about the importance of flash games during his childhood.  

Next, consoles would be internet enabled, and the video gaming experience would connect Millennial-Zoomers to create a global community of like-minded teens. While this would shape digital communities forever, it would also shape the collective understanding of the gaming experience for those that would take part in it. With the release of the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, all Zoomers would garner a sense of what it means to find friends online, and this would pave the way for the viability of digital friendships.  

With video games already being a pseudo-digital medium, and with Zoomers consuming an increasing number of media over their internet connection, it was only natural for the two mediums to combine. YouTube was rising as a platform at the time, and the result was a digitization of television onto the internet in the format of Let’s Plays. Let’s Plays would in turn become live streaming, but we’ve talked about Twitch already.  

Now, video games, movies, television, and music all take place online, and all these media can be live streamed for entertainment. While trends have involved over time, it still is unclear whether the future will follow suit or if new methods of entertainment will be developed.  


Growing up, Millennial-Zoomers were exposed to a large amount of rising technology, and they would help shape the functions of this technology towards their needs. Not only did this role define their childhood through the way they interacted with technology, it would also pave the way for how technology is used now.  

If it weren’t for Millennial-Zoomers unique experience with television, movies, music, and video games, the entertainment and media industry of today would be vastly different. The rise of the internet and the interconnectivity of media would play a vital role in the development of modern technology, and the response by Millennial-Zoomers would create the necessary framework from which things like digital streaming could happen.  

It’s important to reflect on the past 20 years as being some of the most important in shaping how we view technology now. It’s also essential in understanding rising trends in technology and media. If there’s ever confusion about a trend, it’s easy to look back on how Millennial-Zoomers grew up to see the root of the trend, and why it might still be market viable today.  

*It’s difficult to remain consistent in what we’re calling “Millennial-Zoomers” because of the range of experiences being covered in the article and the range of folks that overlaps with those experiences. I apologize if this make the article confusing, but this confusion is inherent to the topic.  

Positivity Online

In my previous article about Fall Guys’ marketing campaign, I mentioned that it’s important to understand what you bring to others on social media. While I wrote this in the context of brand marketing, the question applies to people just as much as it applies to companies. There’s a lot of toxicity on social media, and I see no reason why someone would choose to add to that. 

Today, I’ll be taking a deeper look at social media trends and bringing to light reflections on positivity, wholesome content, and you guessed it, how to bring folks together to create communities of positivity. 

Current Trends

2020 started with plenty of predictions on what trends would soar on social media. The internet was abuzz with talks of rising platforms and unsteady trust. But the COVID-19 pandemic upset all predictions when it radically changed how social media is used. Digital socializing becoming the norm also worked to change attitudes about social media. 

The desperation and depression that 2020 has brought in has combined with existing trends to make this year extremely dark for social media. The internet had previously embraced darker content relating to depression, suicide, global economic collapse, and the destruction of the environment, but the events of 2020 have worked to expedite this content to a wider audience. 

With echo chambers and recursive feedback cycles being an important part of content distribution on social media, the result has been a slow growth of absurdist content on the internet. While the current state of the world may be bleak, I think it’s important to approach social media with more positivity than ever before to support one another. Rather than try to break the cycle of negativity, which may help some people cope, I think the focus should be on bringing more positivity to social media. 

Being Positive 

What does it mean to be positive? This is an important question, but I thought it best to avoid definitions for the sake of pointing to human elements instead. Rather than looking at positivity itself, here’s a look at the importance of positivity to us. 

For starters, searching the web for a simple question like “how to be positive?” will get you a ton of results. Notably, you’ll find posts from the Positivity Blog, the existence of which already points to positivity being a complex topic where some might need help. On finding help to be more positive, you’ll also find a WikiHow post. And while the main topic of this article isn’t to focus on quantifying our need for help in being positive, I think any topic in which people need help with is complex enough to warrant talking about it. The last article on positivity I’ll point to is from Healthline. I thought it was important to link it because it itself links to studies exploring the impacts of positivity on our health. 

However, while trying to channel positivity, it’s also important to try and remain authentic. Authenticity is a huge driver of positivity, so prioritizing authenticity both in person and online will help you remain positive. Authenticity is already being prioritized online, so, the positivity that you can bring to others through being authentic while adding to your own positive feelings is something to keep in mind.  

In a study by Baker et al. on authenticity, researchers found that being authentic in your interactions with others would accurately predict your positive feelings. While this prediction can’t directly corelate positivity with authenticity, it does point to a pattern of increased positivity when being authentic. In an earlier study, Reinecke and Trepte had found that the interaction between authenticity and positivity also exists online, at least on social networking sites.  

The focus on social networking sites is of course key to adding positivity online. While some websites and apps are more positive than others, it’s important to also understand the most effective way to add positivity to those websites.  

Platform Specific Positivity  

LinkedIn is often seen as a positive place, but this has also been problematic at times. The difficulty is in balancing positivity and authenticity. The nature of LinkedIn doesn’t make this easy as users try and balance their normal attitudes with their focus of landing a job or a promotion. The result is that LinkedIn is filled with positivity that ends up feeling inauthentic. That being said, it’s easy to add positivity to LinkedIn by focusing on your own actions and your own authenticity. Speaking of your struggles and difficulties as well as your successes will help others understand that the veil they’re exposed to on the website isn’t all there is to life.  

Facebook is another platform that struggles with positivity. Facebook has always been the sort of catchall for folks and posts, but this has lately become problematic as both marginalized and radicalized groups flocked to the platform. The Social Dilemma did try to touch on the topic, but the approach was less about fighting negativity than it was about denouncing tech giants. Adding positivity to Facebook is tricky, but my take is that you should try and support those who are looking for it while not adding negativity yourself.  

Twitter is probably the most notorious platform for negativity. The combination of pseudo-anonymity with the ability to message users at will creates a disastrous recipe. But based on the research above, users who act inauthentically on Twitter are also adding to their own negativity. It will be difficult to tackle the issue itself, but, reiterating the lessons above, being positive and authentic will help you stay positive and add to the positivity of others.  

Finally, I wanted to speak a little bit to negativity – often called toxicity – in online gaming. I’m a big fan of this topic, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so interested in digital community management. Unfortunately, the solutions that can be put forward to the whole industry are limited. Developers themselves must find ways to remove toxicity from their games while supporting their player base. What I’ve found works best for me and to prevent me from tilting is to remember that video games are still just games, and everyone playing is just trying to have fun.  


Fall Guys Marketing Article 

Absurdist Millennial Comedy 
Potential Benefits of Suicide Memes 

Absurdism is a theory that came from Albert Camus. In our discussion of absurdism’s relationship to suicide, I’m happy to link to the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which outlines the relationship better than I can. On that note, keep in mind that asking Camus’ fundamental question is dangerously close to suicide ideation. If you’re asking the question, you may want to find help

Authenticity on Social Media  

Baker, Z. G., Tou, R. Y., Bryan, J. L., & Knee, C. R. (2017). Authenticity and well-being: Exploring positivity and negativity in interactions as a mediator. Personality and Individual Differences113, 235-239. 

Reinecke, L., & Trepte, S. (2014). Authenticity and well-being on social network sites: A two-wave longitudinal study on the effects of online authenticity and the positivity bias in SNS communication. Computers in Human Behavior, 30, 95-102. 

Positivity Blog 
Positivity WikiHow 

LoL World Championship

I’ve mentioned before that I’m currently enrolled in the Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media course at the University of Toronto. As part of the course I’m supposed watch a live event and post about it on Twitter.  

I originally meant to stick pretty close to the assignment parameters and not expand too much on those tweets. But, after taking part in the event, I feel like there’s a lot to say about context and how I feel after contributing more to the Twitter community. Without further delay, let me take you through my tweets following the League of Legends 2020 World Championships quarter finals last game.  

Note: If you really don’t know anything about League of Legends, you should watch a game before reading this article.  

I mentioned in my first tweet that I haven’t played League of Legends (LoL) in many years. I usually tell people that I haven’t played since Riven came out, and that’s how I figure it’s been about 9 years since my last game.  

I do watch a fair amount of LoL esports though. I’m not sure what initially got me interested in watching, but there’s always a crowd, it’s exciting, and it’s really the closest I’ve ever been to following a sport. With the cancelation of live events because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this was really the only thing I could think of talking about for the assignment.  

One thing that bothers me is the inconsistencies that exist between the different professional leagues of LoL. It’s great that every league feels different. That difference is achieved through having league-specific casters, events, sponsors, and streams, but one thing that I can’t get over is bad UI design.  

As I watch games during the LoL Worlds Championship, I’ve become increasingly bothered by how little effort seems to be put into the viewer interface. I tend to watch mostly the LCK, which is the Korean LoL league. In trying to figure out why that’s the case, I found one reason to be that the LCK emphasizes its interface.  

I mentioned in the above tweet that I wish they showed the names of champions as they were hovered by players. I know that this frustration comes in part because I’m not as familiar with the game as most other viewers, but I think there’s something to be said for all the viewers that are like me and watch games because of the esports aspect of it rather than out of an inherent love of LoL.  

I spend half my time in this blog talking about community. Setting up an interface that’s friendly to new viewers is an obvious step in building community for esports. There’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have kept watching the LCK if the barriers to understanding what was happening were as high as they are during the World Championship.  

Like any burgeoning sports fan, one of the things I had to do while watching the game is to pick a team to root for. Because I tend to watch the Korean LoL most, I figured I would pick the Korean team in this matchup. It was a little unfortunate, but no less fun, that the team I picked couldn’t perform at the same level as their opponent in this match.  

One of the things that happens in esports, and particularly in MOBAs, is that some characters end up getting picked more often than others. This becomes the “Meta” of the game, and the result is that games end up looking like one another.  

The above tweet was a funny moment in the match between GenG and G2 and outlines the fact that there tends to be a lack of originality in how teams draft their champions. There’s plenty to be said about the reasons for that, but I do appreciate folks pointing it out as I think it’s good for the long-term growth of the sport, especially if it’s to become more viewer oriented.  

I already mentioned community, but it was special for me to feel like I was contributing to LoL’s community despite not playing the game. It was great to see everyone on Twitter post and talk about the games as they were happening, and it really opened my eyes to what Twitter can be used for.  

More than ever before, I see value in the way that Twitter presents conversations happening on the platform, and it’s great to see that everyone can have a voice despite the number of people commenting. It’s rare to see that on social media because popular voices usually drown out others.  

I was up at 0300 to watch this match take place. I was tired but also excited to be taking part in the event. When the second game ended and G2 was in the lead, I was happy at the thought of being able to get more sleep once the match was over, but also sad that it would be over so quickly. 

Another advantage of Twitter is being able to retweet things that are relevant without having to know the entire context behind it. I don’t actually know who Azael is, but I knew he worked for Riot Games, the folks behind LoL.  

The reason I retweeted this is that it points to an interesting aspect of esports. Despite LoL existing as an esport for a comparatively long time, it’s still new. Statistics like the fact that there had never been a reverse sweep until this World Championships highlights the idea that even though hundreds of professional games have already been played, esports is a new thing.  

For me, that reflection is exciting because I can’t wait to see what happens in the future for esports. It’s also strange because I fully realize that my interest in esports is almost entirely rooted in my generation and my other interests in video games and digital communities.  

I retweeted Sandy because she said everything that needed to be said about the end of the match in fewer words than I would have.  

Sandy is also in the same course as me, so it was nice to see us two as the smallest subset of our #digitaledu community within this bigger event. To me, this speaks to the interconnectivity of all internet communities.  

This tweet was important to me because it recognizes the work that the casters do in making esports fun and engaging. Even though I watch the Korean league, I can still keep up because of English casts. It’s what helps make the community feel so close.  

Usually I’m happy to listen to LS and Atlus, but I felt that Vedius and Medic did an amazing job at engaging me as a new viewer. It also felt special for my tweet to be liked by both casters, because it made me feel like I belonged in the community.  

This sense of belonging is my most important takeaway from taking part in the event, and it made it clear why an assignment like this one is so important in trying to understand social media. I would never have seen this side of Twitter if I hadn’t actively engaged with an event and a community like I had to here.  

I wanted my last tweet of the event to be thankful. I had a wonderful time and I’m hoping that by putting out positivity I can convince others to join the community and discover a new passion.  

It’s also incredible to me that esports find so many viewers. For an event that took place early in the morning in North America, it still had a crazy turnout. We’re also talking about a single platform here, and there were probably more views coming in from YouTube and maybe even Facebook.  

Watching LoL esports is a great way for me to relax, and I’m honest when I say I can’t wait to see what’s next for the game, for the sport, and for esports overall.  


I framed this article differently then I usually do. Because so many elements were directly embedded into the article, I wasn’t sure whether a notes section would be needed or not. I decided on adding one because I could plug all the folks I mentioned once again and provide you with easy links.  

People I mentioned:  

Check out these organizations:  

Further readings:  
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena 
Game “Meta” 
League of Legends 

Fall Guys’ Digital Campaign

Last week, I mentioned Fall Guys’ Community Director, @OliverAge24, and his role in making Fall Guys go viral. While the discussion started in relation to using Twitch as a marketing platform, more can be said about Oliver’s role in promoting Fall Guys across multiple social media platforms and the results of that strategy.  

Fortunately for us, Oliver outlined the core points of the strategy through a series of tweets. While this presents me with an opportunity to outline what made the strategy unique and effective, it’s also important that the conversation begins with a disclaimer:  

I didn’t write this strategy. I think it’s an amazing look at how to market products into the 2020’s, but the genius behind it is really Oliver’s. I’d go as far as to say that I feel bad for reusing this much content towards my own writing. On the other hand, the brilliance of the whole thing ought to be outlined further than it has been to date. I’ll be linking each tweet I’m using as the source of the discussion and I’ll try and keep quotes to a minimum. I’ll state again that this strategy isn’t mine, and I’m just hoping to promote it as a great strategy for its own sake. My contribution will be in breaking it down and highlighting parts of it.  

I can’t break down each slide of the strategy, so I’ll be focusing on the ones that were most relevant and are the most original. The focus on community building is at the centre of that, but I’ll also be speaking to winning tactics given the size of the team that worked on Fall Guys and the overall feel that the strategy went for.  

Scaling Small Teams 

Small teams are becoming more commonplace as developers and entrepreneurs find new sources of funding. Crowdsourcing development has become more common in the gaming industry, as has early access for fundraising during development. This is a similar environment to many startups, and this tactic is transferrable across industries. 

Oliver focused on taking a personal approach to the marketing of Fall Guys. This meant treating the entire marketing strategy as if only one person was promoting the game. The result was a personable approach; folks that saw Fall Guys’ marketing felt like they were being spoken to personally because all the marketing efforts were coming from a single voice.  

Further to this, Oliver was doing things that larger marketing strategy can’t do. Actively interacting with fans that asked questions, engaging with the content that was posted to Twitter, and promoting a tight-knit community would only be viable for a time. As the community grew, those tactics would have to be abandoned in favour of focusing on larger marketing goals.  

This allowed Fall Guys to come across in an authentic way. The small studio would reach out to people personally to talk about the game they were passionate about. Community content came pouring in, and the marketing team supported it by creating channels that would promote interconnectivity with other players. 

Platform-specific Strategy

This slide is the one I used in my last article. The basic premise is simple enough and is widely understood in marketing circles. But what Oliver emphasized was more than just the voice of each platform; his strategy focused on understanding user trends on those platforms.  

The voice you use on Twitter should be different than the one you use on Instagram; this is essentially back to speech genres. But to go the extra mile, you have to understand how your audience uses those platforms. This is different than how many companies approach social media marketing. By empathising with the user and supporting them in how they want to use the platform, you validate their point of view. You enable them to continue taking part in the conversation in a way that’s accessible to them. You’re no longer framing the conversation to control it; you’re letting the fans create a community.  

What Oliver did is look at the content that Fall Guys players put out and validate it by centring the strategy around it. This established Oliver and Fall Guys as valuable members of that platform’s community. Trust could be built up from there, and folks felt enabled to take part in a conversation that’s usually driven by the marketing team instead of by the fans.  

The result was an authentic voice that drew people in. Fall Guys as a brand seemed to actively listen to its fans and responded in a way that made sense for each platform. They met their fans where they already were but did so in an honest way.  

Trust the Experts 

Referring to my previous article about Twitch, I mentioned that content creators are great at engaging with their communities. While Oliver framed this slide around the lessons that can learned by watching content creators go to work, I think the strategy also emphasized letting content creators promote Fall Guys in a way that worked best for their community.  

When it came to influencer relations, Oliver took a backseat to let the experts promote in a way that would work with their community. Because Oliver didn’t have a complete understanding of how each content creator community operated, he let influencers take charge.  

That’s not to say that Oliver wasn’t there at all though. An important part of engaging with content creators and their community is taking part in those communities. Instead of giving out beta access codes to influencers and watching the player base grow, Oliver joined the communities where codes were being given. 

He was active on Twitter and on Twitch talking with creators and establishing a connection with communities. He talked in Twitch chat when he could and showed a very human side of Fall Guys’ marketing. At the same time, he was never overbearing, and never told content creators what to say about the game or how to distribute beta access codes.  

Building Community 

One thing that I can’t stress enough, and it’s bled into all my other talking points so far, is the importance of building and maintaining a community around your product. In the case of Fall Guys, the community was set up and given various platforms on which fans could get in touch and connect with each other.  

This multiplication of platforms is important in community building because it enables fans to define sub-communities around each platform. In the same thread as the slides, Oliver breaks down the strategy behind each platform used. By allowing fans to have defined communities for new players, for asking questions, for hanging out, or for posting memes, Oliver ensured that the wider Fall Guys’ community would stay tight-knit.

A product’s community is what determines its appeal in the long run. Other games from similar-sized developers have managed to stay relevant by relying on their community for support. A community can support your product by helping with marketing and outreach, but also by welcoming new community members.  

Creating a cycle where your community can actively contribute to the growth of itself is an excellent strategy to increase user retention. It also promotes your organization as community-driven, authentic, and friendly. Oliver actively engaged and promoted the Fall Guys community, and the game’s popularity increased as a result.  

W H O L E S O M E 

One thing that not enough organizations figure out is what they’re bringing to social media. Are you bringing positivity? Laughs? Are you just another corporate voice? What value does your social media presence bring to your fans and to all the users of the platform?  

Oliver made the decision that Fall Guys would bring positivity to social media. This blended well with the game’s vibe, but also helped support the concept of Fall Guys’ community. In fact, I’d say that bringing positivity to social media (and especially Twitter!) is a great strategy regardless of your brand’s usual voice.  

By focusing on positivity, Oliver emphasized everything that Fall Guys stood for while supporting every other aspect of the marketing strategy. No criticism can be made against being too nice, and this helped grow Fall Guys as a game that actively fights toxicity.  


There are five lessons that can be found in Oliver and Fall Guys’ marketing strategy:  

  1. A strategy can be focused around the resources at your disposal. Oliver managed to create hype for the game by interacting with players and taking part in their discussions. The campaign was honest in portraying just how small the studio is, and fans answered with support. 
  1. Ironically, Fall Guys didn’t game the system. Oliver just had a good grasp of how gamers would respond to social media marketing and didn’t try to steer things in a direction that was counter to that. He met players on their terms.  
  1. Oliver trusted content creators to engage their own communities about Fall Guys. All he had to do was get influencers involved, and then the Fall Guys community would speak for itself. This lesson plays into the first lesson in that this could all be done by one person.  
  1. Oliver ensured that there was more to Fall Guys than just fun gameplay. He worked to set up an active community of players that would support each other. This acted as value added to the game itself and helped keep Fall Guys relevant well after its release.  
  1. Oliver looked at what Fall Guys could bring to social media as a whole. Given the game’s emphasis on friendly competition and a fun environment, the decision was made to keep Fall Guys social media presence as friendly and wholesome as possible. It’s important to figure out what you’re bringing to social media; ask yourself how your brand can bring added positivity to platform users.  

NOTES & Links  

Without overdoing it with the praise, I hope the above helped break down why Fall Guys was so successful at launch. I also need to stress Oliver’s role in that success, because it’s clear that a lot of effort went into thinking up this marketing strategy.  

It might be too self-congratulatory, but I think that hiring folks who actively engage in emerging trends is the best way for brands to stay relevant.  


Scaling Small Teams 

Platform-specific Strategy 

Trust the Experts 

Building Community 

W H O L E S O M E 

Twitch & the Digital Community

Twitch, if you don’t know of it, is a live streaming platform where content creators stream their activities for a digital audience. While the most common activity to stream is playing video games, some Twitch streamers show themselves creating art, discussing politics, or directly engaging with their audience. This last one is important, because it’s central in our discussion of Twitch as a digital community, and in looking at the smaller content creator communities on the platform. 

What’s most striking in how folks talk about Twitch is the lack of focus on the platform where it concerns social media marketing and digital community building. I’ve yet to see Twitch mentioned in my social media marketing coursework; Hootsuite Academy’s Social Marketing Professional certification doesn’t mention the platform, and neither does University of Toronto’s Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media course. It’s possible that I lack the industry knowledge to understand that the platform isn’t market viable, and it may be my inherent Gen Z bias, but I believe that Twitch can be the perfect platform from which to build a digital community and create traction for a product. 

It’s important to add the warning that the viability of Twitch as a marketing platform will depend entirely on the target audience and the product itself, but there are clear examples of a campaign working spectacularly on the platform. I’ll be breaking down one of these later, but today I’ll be focusing on social media marketing tactics on Twitch.  

The Twitch Community 

I talked before about speech genres, or ways of speaking that are specific to a given context. While speech genres are defined by their social contexts, they can also build a sense of community through defining in-groups and out-groups by manner of speech. This is important in speaking of the Twitch community because Twitch’s chat function is tricky to grasp when first coming on to the platform. This social barrier to entry creates a sense of exclusivity that strengthens the community. You either get it or you don’t.  

This is true for the wider Twitch community, who has a way of communicating that’s typically characterized by using a personal voice, repeating the same jokes, and using a set of emojis that’s specific to the platform and has narrow use cases. It also extends to each content creator’s own community, which may use emotes specific to the content creator, and may have different chatting rules. 

The result are tight-knit communities that harbour a sense of belonging for those who take part in it. Each of these communities may also be subsets of larger communities, such as those that relate to specific games. They also tend to be part of the larger gaming community, and the Twitch community at large. This is where Twitch may shine for content marketing, because these same communities are self-defining interest groups. If a community matches your target audience, the opportunity may prove to be the mainstay of your marketing campaign.  

A perfect example is the recent release of the video game Fall Guys. Fall Guys used Twitch during their invitational open beta to create traction for the game, while also making use of communities that would respond well to the game’s design and concept. The result was a surge in popularity that averaged over 120k players in the month of the game’s release. I’ll be writing about Fall Guys’ marketing success in my next article, but even this brief look should give a sense of the potential of Twitch as a platform for marketing.

“If a community matches your target audience, the opportunity may prove to be the mainstay of your marketing campaign.”

Twitch Marketing Tactics – Paid Tactics 

The same tactics that apply to social media and content marketing can apply to Twitch. Paid, earned, shared, and owned tactics are all viable on Twitch, and while it may be difficult to point to specific examples or statistics, a breakdown of each type of tactic should create a clear path towards marketing on Twitch. When it comes to paid marketing, there are at least two tactics that have seen success on the platform.  

The first paid marketing tactic that has been used on Twitch is using content creators to directly promote your product. Twitch content creators are the platform equivalent of social media influencers. Many content creators have a following both on Twitch and on other platforms, and these fans are dedicated. Where many influencers might not see proportionate interaction with their content given the size of their fanbase, Twitch content creators actively engage with their fans through chat and other means, making them particularly valuable in converting marketing to engagement. Treating Twitch content creators as influencers is the best way to approach this tactic. 

Another paid tactic that can be applied to the platform is in using product codes to spread the use and demand for your product. This is similar to what Fall Guys did when they sent beta access codes to influencers which would then be raffled off. This may be considered a paid tactic when the product code gives full access, but the resulting hype and demand should net positive returns.

Twitch Marketing Tactics – Earned Tactics  

Earned tactics apply to Twitch as they would anywhere. Many content creators will actively speak about what product they’re using, whether it’s their computer, keyboard, chair, or software. Having a product that content creators can actively speak to because the quality warrants promotion is just as effective on Twitch as it is in other media.  

Combining paid and earned tactics is especially effective on Twitch. A product key can be given to a content creator to use and promote while more keys can be raffled off by the same creator once it’s been proven to be worthwhile. This combines added demand and hype with earned promotion through having a strong product.  

While earned tactics don’t typically see the same traction on Twitch as paid tactics, they can still work on the platform, especially when the product is directly relevant to a target audience or a content creator’s community. Because content creators actively engage with their audience, earning promotion from a Twitch streamer can result in a considerable popularity spike.  

Twitch Marketing Tactics – Shared Tactics 

Shared tactics are more difficult on Twitch because they demand an existing presence on the platform. It’s still possible to use shared tactics on the platform, especially if these will be partnered with paid, earned, and owned tactics.  

A good starting point towards using shared tactics on Twitch is to listen to content creators and see if anyone is already using or talking about your product. Social listening is common before launching a campaign, and the same applies to planning a campaign on Twitch. In fact, it may be more important to analyse the Twitch platform thoroughly because of its fringe case utility.  

Once it’s been shown that Twitch is right for a marketing campaign it should be simple to use shared tactics towards cross promotion. Specific content creators should have already been flagged and can start being promoted in brand channels.  

An important aspect of shared tactics on Twitch is focusing on community building. Since content creators will already have a community, becoming a part of that community will go a long way towards building a reputation. Adding value to existing communities will contribute to brand and product honesty and will help prove the value of the product itself. Eventually, the communities may overlap enough to continuously contribute to one another.  

Twitch Marketing Tactics – Owned Tactics 

Owned marketing tactics are the most daunting to undertake but may be the simplest to use once set up. On Twitch, the only tangible owned tactic is actively streaming content on the platform. This is why it may be difficult to set up. Most people would be hesitant to start streaming, and it takes a certain personality to want to stand in front of an audience, digital or not. That being said, it’s probable that an organization who’s actively creating marketing content will have the tools needed to set up a stream.  

Once a stream has been set up, it’s simple to plan content for it. Streams can be used to actively showcase your product or demonstrate how best to use it. Streams can also be used to create tutorials or answer frequently asked questions about how to use your product. You can also go over some hiccups that might have come up in trying to use it.  

Streams can be promoted on other platforms as an open discussion with the organization or product, and this can help bolster strategies on other platforms. Appearing before a live audience will strengthen customer relations and increase authenticity with your brand. Streams can also be saved and repurposed towards video guides, or even FAQ podcasts.  

One big question in creating and managing a Twitch stream as an organization is in dealing with chat. Twitch chat, if left alone, won’t typically cause any problems. Not engaging with chat is simple but will diminish returns on community creation and management. If chat is going to be used, it’s important to have it be moderated by someone you trust. Managing Twitch chat is similar to managing any platform where customers can comment but happens much faster and requires immediate attention.  

Finally, setting up a stream is useful where it allows for shared tactics through co-streaming. Actively participating with content creators that support your product will further foster your community and will speak to your brand’s readiness to engage with their customers.  

The Twitch Caveat 

I mentioned earlier that the viability of using Twitch for marketing purposes may be limited by the platform’s culture and average content. While the statement stands, it’s important to expand on it given what was written above and the recommendations made towards using Twitch for that purpose.  

Twitch chat is made up of anonymous users. Typically personified as “Chat”, they often use offensive language, and Chat tends not to self-censor. Chat also spams the same messages, either for laughs or for visibility. If your product isn’t compatible with this culture, it may be best to avoid Twitch.  

Twitch content creators all have a personal brand that may not be compatible with your product, or with marketing in general. Content creator communities are unique and may not be moderated in a way that enables useful discussion. Some communities aren’t moderated at all. Being familiar with a community and the chat of that community is the first step towards gauging viability.  

Finally, the barrier to entry to using Twitch successfully is high and will require considerable time investment. Understanding how the platform works and how it can be used towards a marketing campaign will take effort. However, Twitch continues to grow as a platform, and there is a significant audience there if the target demographic matches your needs. 

The best advice that I can give is in sharing the words of Fall Guys’ Community Director, @OliverAge24:  

“[Be] of the platform, not just on it. Speak in a similar language and tone to [your] audience, in a way that resonates best on that platform.”

Links and References 

If you want to read more about rising tech, 21st century societal changes, internet culture, and digital community building, I recommend you check out my other articles!

This link will show you graphs for Fall Guys’ player-base following the games release and marketing efforts.

Also make sure to read Twitch’s terms of service before planning a campaign on the platform.

Anxiety Free CMC

We’ve all been there: you receive a message that you don’t want to deal with just yet, so you leave it unread in your inbox. It stays there threateningly, and the longer you leave it, the greater the hurdle is in dealing with it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way. Let’s look at why digital conversations shouldn’t be treated like regular, in-person conversations, and why they shouldn’t be a source of stress or anxiety. 

Digital conversations – or computer-mediated communication (CMC) – aren’t normal conversations. In a normal conversation, it’s simple enough to figure out whose turn it is to speak, as well as when a conversation might be over. The mechanisms that make this happen are complex and impressive in themselves, but the fact remains that these cues are typically easy to figure out when in person. In CMC, these cues don’t translate, and we’re left feeling stranded about when we should answer. 

This applies when we’re in the middle of the conversation, like when you see those infamous three dots telling you someone is typing but you haven’t had the chance to reply to their first message yet. It also applies after someone has said something, but you aren’t sure if you’re supposed to answer or not. Sometimes it’s extremely hard to follow-up on what someone sent you, like an emoji or a low-quality meme.  

So how are we supposed to deal with the issues that convenient digital conversations create for us? My solution has been to understand just how different digital conversations are to the ones we have in-person. 

Speech genres

Every day we have conversations in different contexts. These contexts depend on who we’re talking with, where we are, and what our relationship is with that person. Sometimes called speech genres, these distinct types of conversations are easily compared to genres in other mediums, such as genres of novel or movies. 

If we usually treat these types of conversations as separate genres with their own rules, then why aren’t we treating digital conversations in the same way? While there exist multiple genres within the scope of digital conversations, the fact remains that these are all distinct from the pre-existing genres of our in-person life, and our associations shouldn’t be simply transferred over.  

Many people already treat different genres of digital conversations differently. I’d even go as far as to argue that most people understand subtle differences between genres, like the differences between email or text. But these digital genres are also different to in-person genres. Going back to our email example, writing an email to your supervisor isn’t the same as talking to them in person. Even casual digital conversations are different than casual in person conversations, and the rules and conventions of both can’t be equated.  

This is the first thing to understand when looking at how you treat digital conversations. Understanding speech will help you relax into your writing. This applies particularly well to those who have anxiety in social situations. Because digital conversations don’t follow standard social conventions, you don’t have to be worried about making a digital gaffe.  

Never ending conversations 

Don’t try and compare in-person speech genres to digital conversations. While an email might sometimes feel like a high-pressure situation, the benefits afforded by email should be taking pressure of your shoulders. There’s very rarely a good reason to rush a message online, and this applies regardless of speech genres. One of the main advantages they bring is the ability to pick your words before sending them out. 

Even so-called instant messaging is a bit of a misnomer. While the messages go out instantly, you shouldn’t feel pressured to reply instantly. Take your time in answering messages. More importantly, realize that digital conversations don’t ever end. There’s no reason to rush into a reply when messages can be sent at any time. Because you can’t be sure when your message will be read, there’s little reason to send a reply just as you receive a message.  

You might be thinking that not replying right away is rude but consider that you wouldn’t ask the people you’re talking with to answer at an inconvenient time. Digital conversations function on an agreement that people won’t reply when they don’t want to and won’t expect others to reply when it’s inconvenient for them.  

Unfortunately, there aren’t any tricks to understanding the pace at which digital conversations go. Some folks answer quite fast, while others take their time. A good approach to figuring out how fast you should be replying is to gauge how fast your conversation partner is answering. The key is in adapting yourself to a middle ground between what you’re comfortable with, and what the other person expects.  

So far, we’ve made it clear that digital conversations have different standards and conventions than in-person conversations. Another one of these differences is in writing standards.  

Different writing standards 

When looking at the differences in writing standards between digital conversations and in-person conversations (or even non-digital writing), one element that gets brought up is abbreviations. While abbreviations are used in CMC, they’re not as widespread as folks make them out to be. Abbreviations are tied to specific digital speech genres, so their application is limited to specific types of conversations. You have to be really out of touch to think that all abbreviations can be used at any time.  

Another writing standard that differs is in the use of periods. This is often less discussed, but research has shown that the period is often dropped in CMC, and this trend is best compared to writing a note when it comes to non-digital writing. This is an important lesson to keep in mind because it helps set the tone for how you should see digital conversations. Imagine that your messages are sticky notes that you leave for the people you’re talking to. You don’t need to write full sentences, and you don’t need to treat it as if it was an in-person conversation. In fact, it’s more common for folks to leave out the period in instant messaging than it is to leave it in.  

Sticky notes are somewhere in between regular conversations and a more formal speech genre like a letter. That’s why I think they’re a good comparison to most digital conversations that are neither formal nor informal. One thing is certain though: writing a sticky note is a no-pressure situation, which is how you should feel in dealing with digital conversations. 

It should be clear that you shouldn’t be treating CMC as if it was a formal genre of writing. This is related to the last point I’ll be covering: the lack of physical language in digital communication.  

Lack of physical language 

Some cues that smooth out in-person conversations are physical. Whether it’s actual body language and physical movement or simply facial expressions, in-person conversations tend to have greater and richer information for us to gauge how the conversation is going.  

That’s not to say that CMC doesn’t have rich elements to help us come across how we intend to. Technology has made it possible to react to what our conversation partner is saying by using emojis (and emoticons before that), as well as GIFs, pictures, memes, and even avatar reactions.  

Despite all this, it’s still difficult to make it all feel natural. There’s also an inherent delay in the way we use CMC, and as a result, all reactions are delayed, which serves to increase the anxiety of not knowing how a message was taken.  

Understand that committing a faux pas in a digital conversation is normal because you don’t have a way to gauge how your conversation partner is doing, or how they’re taking what you’re saying. You should also keep in mind that almost everyone has been in your position, whether it’s about drafting an email to your boss, to your significant other, or to a new acquaintance.  

There are as many reasons to worry about digital conversations as there are solutions to your worries. At the end of the day, digital conversations are vastly different from in-person conversations, and you shouldn’t feel like you have any serious expectations to meet because the genres of CMC haven’t been formalized enough to feel pressured by convention.  

Take a deep breath, figure out how your conversation partner is talking and what they’re trying to say, and from there take your time in replying. At the end of the day, the real revolution that CMC brings about is giving us time to think.  


I had previously tangled with CMC and the standards of language in one of my university classes. Being able to callback to research I had already done was really useful in writing this. Most of these articles are accessible and are a great place to start reading more about the rules and conventions of digital conversations and computer mediated communication.  

Bakhtin, M., & Ghāsemipour, G. (2011). The problem of speech genres. Literary Criticism, 4(15), 114-136. 

Gunraj, D. N., Drumm-Hewitt, A. M., Dashow, E. M., Upadhyay, S. S. N., & Klin, C. M. (2016). Texting insincerely: The role of the period in text messaging. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 1067-1075. 

Tagliamonte, S. A., & Denis, D. (2008). Linguistic ruin? LOL! Instant messaging and teen language. American speech, 83(1), 3-34. 

Wildner-Bassett, M. E. (2005). CMC as written conversation: A critical social-constructivist view of multiple identities and cultural positioning in the L2/C2 classroom. Calico Journal, 635-656.