Intrigued by Discord? Here's Why the App is Growing Outside Its Gaming Roots
By James Dominic Flores
Danie, a 4th year college student, shuns Telegram and Facebook Messenger for her instant messaging needs. Whether on her smartphone or laptop, she chats away on a platform that's easily customizable while and allows her to connect with strangers that share her passion for gaming and art -- Discord.
Discord is an app developed by Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy 2015 to create a relatively lightweight, but reliable and flexible platform to connect with fellow gamers in real time. It took the basics of a Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP) and allowed users to create and customize their own personal server, effectively combining the aspects of a messaging app and a message board or forum in one go.
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What is Discord?
Discord can be likened to a hotel with a ballroom designated exclusively for each group of friends or hobbies. Inside this ballroom is a shared room where you can interact with people in the same area, or smaller rooms for more specific, private groups.
Any important messages can be pinned on the wall so that other conversations do not drown the announcements in a flood of text. Finally, with a little setup, server creators can employ bots no different from a concierge that can handle basic tasks such as welcoming new members, laying down ground rules, assigning people roles, and even making important announcements.
Why is Discord use growing?
When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, Discord stood out as an alternative to messaging apps. Originally made for gamers, it evolved through its practical applications for online learning and other online based communities. Artists, bands, and even groups of friends would often create a server, hop in the voice call even when there is no one else with them, and if by chance a friend would hop in the call, it was practically like you were in the same room making small talk with that person.
Being able to connect with others effectively and efficiently speaks to our basic need for affiliation; the need to belong, and create positive bonds motivates us naturally since humans are social animals. The internet has done a magnificent job of connecting people across distances and being able to connect with someone who one perceives to be like themselves has a positive effect on the self. While opposites may attract, by providing an element of excitement and uncertainty, the consistency of those who are of same feathers flocking together with us establishes a safe space.
Is there a downside to Discord?
One should always be mindful of how to properly use Discord. Just like any tool, it can be used for good and evil. Connecting people from a distance is a great benefit to those we already personally know, however there is still a layer of anonymity when interacting with strangers with different hobbies.
Impersonation, harassment, catfishing, scamming, are some of the common issues that can be encountered in servers just like with any other messaging app. While some servers are properly moderated to reduce these cases, the best form of moderation is still on a personal level: Being vigilant of others, not giving out personal information, or simply leaving a toxic server.
Lastly, be reminded that as great as technology has been for our communication conveniences, the real thing will still hit differently. Close physical proximity and physical touch such as hugs with our loved ones release Oxytocin in the brain which practically produces good vibes and reduces fear and anxiety.
There is no denying that discord, and perhaps future developments in online communication and community building will play a big role in society, even so, sometimes the need to belong is just best satisfied by being in the moment and being together with the people that matter to you the most.
About the author: James Dominic Flores is a lecturer at Far Eastern University Manila, specializing in psychology. He is also a competitive gamer specializing in fighting games.