The good thing is that it will take some time for the boomers to spoil this social media as well. If Instagram is the new Facebook, e TikTok The new Instagram, Discord has all the potential to become the favorite playground of the Generation Z.

Technically Discord is not a social network but a VoIP application, born in 2015 as a chat and meeting place for gamers (it seems that the name derives from the constant disagreements about what to use to communicate during the games). After a turbulent passage in which the platform was held hostage by Alt-Right groups, who used it to organize the Charlottesville protests, in the last two years Discord has quadrupled users: now it has 300 million and, according to Forbes , is worth 3.5 billion dollars.

With a nostalgic aesthetic between MySpace and early Irc channels and functionality between Slack and Reddit, Discord is a highly customizable space where you can create communities around very specific interests. With two promises: privacy and freedom from algorithms.

Discord is for now the best virtual approximation to the ancient concept of club and gathers groups ranging from thousands of users (on Fortnite or Minecraft servers) up to micro-communities of about twenty people, who can juggle text and voice chats and video. The impression, browsing it, however, is always the same: an intimate place, free from spam, trolls, and likes.

“Bdms Regulars’ Table”, from the series “Hobby Buddies” by Ursula Sprecher & Andi Cortellini. The Swiss duo photographed groups of people in meeting places, clubs, clubs, associations in sharing their free time, interests and particular hobbies.

© URSULA SPRECHER & ANDI CORTELLINI.

Communities gather around a server that can establish its own rules for moderating the conversations of the various sub-channels, from the ban on posting Nsfw content to the threat of bans for racist or homophobic insults, up to the request to show a genuine interest in Catholicism or the Bdsm. Usually each server must define its own role, reacting with emojis, and among the choices there is almost always the preferred pronoun, the origin and the age (having to choose between 13+, 16+ and 18+ was rather painful).

Although the most numerous communities are, in fact, those of gamers, the recently inaugurated motto, “Your Place to Talk”, is quite explanatory of Discord’s expansionist aims: to become the reference place to find and attend similar souls online, approaching much more to the country’s infamous bar (or perhaps the Circolo Arci) than the now overcrowded Facebook.

And he’s succeeding: singer Arca, for example, used Discord for collaborative artistic experiments with his fans, a series of 20-year-olds profiled on the New York Times with their Gen Z Mafia server they came together to share insights, collaborations and find investors to develop ideas ranging from AI psychotherapists to technologies to bypass the facial recognition systems used by the US government.

For now, fashion still has a niche space on the platform: the servers tagged “fashion” are mainly dedicated to subcultures close to the world of gamers or teenagers, including video game skin designers, channels dedicated to outfits of the day or flex with friends for finally buying the tabi’s Margiela, but there are also channels that criticize the shows live and collect favorite editorials, or emerging brands that try to build their own space. Well, if you think about it, it’s only a matter of time: the boomers are about to colonize this too.

From Vogue Italia, n. 845, February 2021

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