Angela Moryan & Michael Campagna
*Editor’s note: the creator of gcsunation wanted to remain anonymous
It’s ranged from Georgia College Bobcat pride to proudly-rolled blunts of marijuana and drunken documentation of Milledgeville nightlife.
Georgia College students have found community on yet another platform – Snapchat.
The photo and video-based social media has seen exponential growth since its creation in September 2011. According to AdWeek, as of July 2015, 100 million users actively engage on Snapchat every day. Gcsunation has added a new ground for Snapchat users at GC to engage with this growing social media platform.
Four years after Snapchat’s launch, a freshman at GC decided to use the the phone app to unite the campus and created an account called gcsunation where students could send their snaps to be posted on a constantly updated story for the student body to see.
“I went down to Athens with my friend from high school, and he was like ‘Hey, check out this thing on Snapchat. It’s called uganation,’ said the founder of gcsunation. “I thought the idea was great, and I was like, ‘Okay I’m going to see if there’s anyway I can do this back at GCSU.”
After some research, he found a way to bypass Snapchat’s signature time-limited Snaps in order to save and republish them on gcsunation’s story. The secret is an app called Casper, which allows users to view, download and upload any Snaps sent to an account without alerting the sender.
In a week, the account gained 1000 followers. Now, close to 3000 students follow the account. On an average day, the account receives 50 follow requests. The quick growth of the account has opened up new business opportunities for the founder and his product. A current sophomore senator for the Student Government Association approached the founder willing to pay for his campaign ads to be featured on gcsunation’s story.
“I thought about going to people downtown and talking about advertising,” the founder said. “But that’s still kind of the future.”
Similar to Yik Yak, gcsunation maintains the anonymity of the contributing accounts, unless, of course, those users decide to place themselves or their friends in the actual image or video. But unlike Yik Yak, Georgia College administration has yet to make an official statement concerning the recent fad, even though controversies surround the community-generated account.
“When you’re trying to promote the concepts of reason, respect, and responsibility, you see a lot of things there that are unreasonable, disrespectful, and irresponsible, being posted there,” said Dr. Harshbarger, Vice President of Student Affairs.
However, Harshbarger doesn’t want to “shoot the messenger” by casting blame on accounts like gcsunation for the growing problems of underage drinking and illegal drug use, displayed and, oftentimes, praised on social media. Assistant mass communications professor Kristin English, who has a doctorate in mass communications research and teaches a class on social media, tends to agree with Harshbarger.
“Social media is a tool, and it’s not the tool that necessarily directs how positively or negatively it will impact. It’s how people use that tool,” English said. “I think for Georgia College it really does depend on how individual students, faculty and school will decide to use social media, whether or not it’s positive or negative.”
While Yik Yak remains controversial, the feed full of yaks is controlled by a community of students who have the power to promote or delete yaks. With this new Snapchat account, the founder determines which Snaps make the grander story rather than every sent Snap being published.
“There’s really no decision process,” the founder said. “It’s either if I like it or I don’t or what kind of mood I’m in. Like, sometimes I don’t really feel like posting anything unless it’s really outstanding or sometimes I’ll just post everything.”
He does reject Snaps that are “inappropriate or uncalled for,” which he describes as photos or videos regarding Greek rivalries or others that could insight trouble or liability for him as the founder.
“Social media can be manipulated in many ways – both positive and and negative,” SGA President Juawn Jackson said. “I think we should focus our time and energy on promoting all the good things about our institution, not wasting it by posting foolishness about ourselves.”
Other students who are large contributors to the account have voiced their concerns as well.
“I feel like it’s evolved,” said freshman theatre major Conner Kocks. “It went from just creative pictures and things that people would post, to basically, like, weed.” Kocks has been identified by other followers as “the guy from gcsunation” because of his frequent and humorous Snaps featured on the account.
Regardless of critics, gcsunation continues to grow. The founder hopes to have the entire student body following the account in the future as he passes the control to younger students with more time.