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Digital Life

Forget Facebook for a while and check out these social networks

Social networking services have been around in some capacity for quite some time now, but the primary goal has never changed. Their intention is to bring people together to engage in conversation over topics, trends, or to exchange details of their lives. While Facebook may be the biggest right now with just over one billion users, there are some ones you may be missing out on.


Twitter is by no means new or unheard of, but lots of kids are ditching Facebook to go there. While Twitter may not offer the same level of interaction as Facebook, nor the amount of space to write, what it does offer is fast and instant updating. Twitter serves as a great way to get access to events happening in near real-time, because anyone can post to it. Back in 2010 GigaOm said it was "functioning as a news network or wire service" because "[w]hen you can get live reports from eyewitnesses of earthquakes and other disasters within minutes of them happening, you have a news network." Even beyond news, celebrities and brands are using Twitter to reach their audiences, and it's serving as an easy way to keep up on what is going on in their lives.


Perhaps you heard about Reddit during the Boston Marathon bombings and how it fueled witch hunts, but there is more to it than what was shown off during those few days. Reddit's key feature are its subreddits, where users have a dedicated place to discuss topics. If you just visit the site you'll be presented with the most popular default subreddits, but if you do some looking around you can find more specific and specialized areas. If you enjoy coffee, the NFL, discussing the latest Breaking Bad episode, or perhaps you just want some new workout ideas, Reddit has a subreddit for all of them, filled with enthusiastic users.


There are certainly no shortage of online blogs, but a new one created by one of the co-founders of Twitter is gaining a lot of steam. Medium is not a social network in the same capacity as Facebook or Twitter, instead it's more similar to a traditional blog format. Users can contribute posts to collections that cover various topics ranging from consumer technology to money and banking. Medium likes to highlight articles from their users that may cover controversial topics like GMOs or perhaps why the latest CrossFit trend isn't what it's cracked up to be. What makes Medium enjoyable is that not only is the quality of the content hitting Medium good, their commenting system is refreshing. Rather than sit at the bottom of the post users can add comments to sections or even sentences of someone's post, providing more specific discussion or calling parts out. While Medium does have a lot of content, their weekly newsletter will make sure you don't miss the hottest posts.


Before Flickr went through its major overhaul a site by the name of 500px tried to step in and take over as the place for photographers and enthusiasts. Similar to Flickr, users can like, favorite, or comment on photos. What keeps 500px different from Flickr is that rather than give users unlimited uploads, 500px restricts the number of uploads free users are given. In doing that, 500px is forcing you, the user, to be more selective of your photos. This leads to higher quality and standards in photos rather than just an online repository of every photo you've taken. 500px may not be for everyone, but for people who enjoy photography it can be a great place for inspiration and creativity.

Photo: Chris Potter