VSCO, the photo editing app created by and named after Visual Supply Company, has recently exploded amongst the social media community of teenagers and young adults. Both iOS and Android owners use the app to upload and share pictures with friends.
The application offers editing features like saturation, tint, and skin tone as well as filters for users’ photos. Many who have the app downloaded, especially teenage girls, turn everyday images of things such as food, travel, pets, and sunsets into artistic and tasteful works.
“I like the artsiness factor about [the app], it’s so aesthetically pleasing,” said Lauren Ellis, a Leesville sophomore and daily VSCO user.
Although a large portion of VSCO is filled with smoothie bowls and Christmas lights like Instagram, there is another aspect of the app that differs it from any other. While it is typical to see expressions of deeper feelings and subjects such as love and depression on any social media, it is not out of the ordinary to see people ridiculed or mocked for posting about how they feel. Alongside the continuously growing issue of cyberbullying, many people online have become insensitive and generally malicious.
When people are able to hide behind a computer screen, they become ruthless and reinforce stereotypes and self-comparison. Instagram and Twitter users commonly fret about their follower count and number of likes or retweets because over time, they have been taught to compare their popularity to their peers’. Not only is this unhealthy for self-confidence, it easily creates a divide between people who may not even know each other.
Fortunately, VSCO is becoming the solution to the constant self-comparison. The application allows users to follow each other as well as repost and favorite other’s pictures, as other apps do. The catch is that VSCO does not display follower counts, number of likes or reposts, or other potentially comparable statistics to any user.
“VSCO is different from any other social media app because people who see your posts cannot comment and say mean things…I think this makes it a really open space for people to talk about how they feel,” said Paige Van Gorden, a sophomore at Leesville via text.
The “no-judgment” zone that founders Joel Flory and Greg Lutze created in 2011 is not only a safe place for account owners but also a useful outlet for those with struggles. A number of people post quotes or screenshots of notes on their phone about their feelings. These images are then reposted, an indication of support or relation to said expression of emotions.
“I use VSCO to communicate how I feel about more serious situations by openly sharing my depression and fears and not being ashamed of it…People should continue to use the app because it allows them to share what they love or how they feel without getting hateful comments or associated drama,” said Van Gorden.
Caroline Petrini, a freshman at Leesville, also explains that VSCO is not just an app to edit pictures. She explains that the platform is very open to everyone who uses it.
“…you have an account where all your pictures can be shared with your friends…I feel like I can post whatever I want on [VSCO] and nobody will judge or shame me for it,” said Petrini.
Although the application is free and available for download to anyone, the majority of users tend to be high school or college-aged girls. Recently, more and more teenage guys have created accounts and started to use VSCO. Veteran users share mixed opinions about this.
“I think…I like it that it’s a girl thing, and I think it should stay a girl thing. I don’t know, guys that have it, I feel like are abusing their power and just making less of something important to a lot of girls,” said Ellis. While some girls feel that guys shouldn’t use the app because they depreciate the purpose by making a joke of the app and objectifying girls, others are more open to the idea.
“I do not have a problem with the girl to guy ratio using the app. I think it would be cool if more guys used the app, but it is just not as common for boys to try and take artsy pictures to share with the rest of the internet world,” said Van Gorden.
Keeping an open mind about those wanting to use VSCO is a great way to expand the popularity as well as the positive messages the app conveys.
Despite some of the controversy about who uses it, the editing and sharing app may be the overall best on the market. VSCO builds a relaxed, secure, and pleasant atmosphere without involving attempts for cyberbullying. Users feel free to share photos of anything and don’t have to worry about facing judgment.