Review of VSCO

For those out there in opposition of the #vscogirl parody

Review of VSCO

Another article on the consequences of social media. The bombardment of studies explaining the negative effects on mental and physical health – insomnia, anxiety, depression – all of which are scientifically proven, seems relentless. 

Amidst the self-righteous deleting of such notorious apps as a solution, which many claim is life changing, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. For those of you unfamiliar with the application, or haven’t heard of the “VSCO girl” subculture that took hold over young teenage girls from mid to late 2019 as “Gen Z’s highly aestheticized and widely parodied brand” (New York Times) (see below for some key features of the era), VSCO defines itself as a “creative channel.” Acknowledging the value of aesthetic on VSCO is key to understanding it, but for a less aesthetic and ambiguous definition I turned to Wikipedia, which describes it as a “photography mobile app,” initially released in 2011. 

In my extensive research for this article, I came across a “VSCO girl” Wikipedia page. While AP Seminar heavily ingrained in me that Wikipedia is not a credible source, I was slightly shocked that the “youth subculture” had developed into having a Wikipedia platform, which according to Wikipedia, is the most-read reference in history. This newfound source of validation left me curious. It described VSCO girls as ones that “dress and act in a way that is nearly indistinguishable from one another,” that especially care about “sea turtle conservation,” and often “put charms on crocs.” While there is nothing wrong with being attracted to a style critics declare “basic” (you like what you like), there has been some controversy over the high cost of the products typically associated with the style, belonging to brands such as Urban Outfitters, Lululemon, Brandy Melville, and Fjällräven, especially when part of the style is a heavy emphasis on brand names and labels. Fox Business estimates buying the starter pack would cost $229.89. Nevertheless, don’t let this steer you from joining the community of creative channels. The VSCO girl era has arguably ended.

But to get to the point of this article, what separates VSCO from the rest?

VSCO girl items.

The majority of the popular social media platforms that exist today have a heavy visual component to them, if not entirely based around visuals, which establishes my argument for why VSCO should go to the top. The application excels in the visual quality category. One of the most notable features of VSCO in comparison to other social media platforms is the extensive preset asset of the application. While the entire collection boasts over 130 filters, the majority of those require a subscription to VSCO X. I strongly discourage a new user to purchase them. In addition to there already being 10 free filters, and the fact you can just screenshot the presets without having to pay for them (wow!), the trend of filters has arguably gone out of style. Do you consider yourself a “cool teen?” See this article on how “The Cool Teens Don’t Use Instagram Filters Anymore.” Or this one, on the new direction of social media aesthetics, where “oversaturated filters and perfect-picture set ups are out and candids are in.” But no one is stopping you from using the infamous C1 preset. Part of embracing the VSCO application is embracing your true photographic vision. If filters are a part of that, so be it. Another feature is the lack of followers and likes. A great elimination of immediate virtual judgement. However, all VSCO accounts are public, so non-virtual judgement is alive and well, just not screen to face.  

A not so great characteristic, the VSCO community is notably less comic. No comment section, a significant loss, and the lack of likes or followers allows for people to try a little harder on their “creative channel.” As I can tell you from my own taking of it way too seriously at times, download this app in full awareness of the possibility of running across some determined accounts. There is not a lot of pop-culture/music on the app, with the exception of Kendall Jenner Pinterest photos, hipster album covers, and screenshots of songs playing on Spotify. You might get the occasional meme. 

But because the app is so centered on photos, you get to see some really interesting ones, taken by people all over the world. While that is not fundamentally different from Instagram, for some reason, I have found VSCO to be much more casual and less negative across the social media spectrum.

Similar to the #makeinstagramcasualagain movement there has been a re-evaluation on the pressures of social media, whether from others or yourself. There is always the mentality of not caring what other people think, or you can also add even more social media to your life and join the creative hub that is VSCO.