Vaccinations, Public Health Rhetoric, and Snapchat Stories: How Online Writing has Affected Vaccination Efforts

If you live in Ohio and are currently located in the Columbus area, you may know the struggle of getting a COVID vaccine. Just look at the map below to see how the distribution of appointment unavailability is concentrated in Columbus. Compared to other large population centers in Ohio, Columbus is by far experiencing the most shortages. Even with places like the Schottenstein center having delivered over 79,000 vaccines, the demand for vaccination in the Columbus area is higher than the supply.

A map of ohio that highlights vaccine availability

But why is this? As discussed in Week 12, the pandemic has caused an increase in coalitions and relational literacies in regards to health on this specific issue. We in Columbus, especially those who attend OSU, are lucky to have a close relationship to health information via the Wexner Medical Center. They provide so much information on health and wellness, and many students and alum value their writing greatly.


With the integration of health information so strong in the Columbus community, it seems to me there has been an even greater response to vaccination. Even in my personal communities, everyone I know is actively trying to book a vaccine appointment or has booked an appointment. We, as OSU students and community members, are more aware of how important getting vaccinated as quickly as possible is, and we, therefore, have a much higher demand for vaccine appointments.


This increase in availability may be more of a reflection of trying to support rural and minority communities, who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks. This increase in appointment availability will hopefully help these rural communities get over some of the vaccine hesitancy presents there. Unlike in Columbus, many people in rural communities may not be able or willing to take a vaccine appointment time that interferes with their work or life schedule. There will also need to be a bigger push of public health writing and rhetoric to decrease vaccine hesitancy, and it will need to target the specific fears and hangups each community has.


Unfortunately, this lack of appointments means people like me, a 22-year-old college student, have a much harder time accessing vaccines. We want to be able to celebrate our graduations safely, but this means we need to be vaccinated within the next week if it’s not already too late. But fortunately, social media has helped many people access the vaccine in an alternative way. While you shouldn’t be posting your vaccine card, posting about getting a vaccine is a way of sharing support for a public health issue. It also makes others aware of how they can get vaccinated. I personally found access to a vaccine through social media. While it may be used to push anti-vax rhetoric, social media also has the power to get us back to normal even faster.

The Internet and Democracy

When the World Wide Web was invented in 1989, an excitement gripped the United States as the internet went from a system primarily used by scientists to a system that could one day connect the world. Connection didn’t happen immediately. It took several years before email or the internet were widely available to everyone, and even then, there were barriers to access.

Thirty years later, most Americans walk around with access to the world’s information in their back pocket in the form of smartphones. But how connected is society? Is the internet actually driving us further apart?

Laptop Computer with Image of American Flag Covered in Code on ScreenIn the wake of last November’s contentious Presidential election, these questions have been at the forefront of mass media. Recently, an article in The Atlantic asked if democracy itself is at risk of failing as a result of partisanship on the World Wide Web. The internet is an open system that allows anyone to post nearly anything at any time. On the one hand, this open source format allows Americans to exercise their First Amendment rights in a manner the Founding Fathers could never have imagined.

But this open system also allows bad actors a platform that was not available to them in a world where print ruled. One example of this is the use of algorithms that “control” what a person might see on their social media feeds. In their article, “How Automated Writing Systems Affect the Circulation of Political Information Online,” Timothy Laquintano and Annette Vee mention a “Red Feed, Blue Feed” graphic created by the Wall Street Journal in which one can see the difference between a conservative or liberal Facebook feed “on a variety of issues,” thus highlighting the potential polarizing effect of the Web.

Algorithms, bots, and the Google search engine can all give the effect that humanity is not really in control of the internet at all. Fortunately, as The Atlantic article mentions, there are pockets of the internet that are so far free from manipulation, such as Wikipedia.

The question for American society is how to reclaim the parts of the internet controlled by trolls, bots, and corporations. In order to regain connection over division, tough decisions will need to be made on how to govern the internet without impinging on the rights of citizens. It won’t be easy, but it is necessary for the future of democracy.

The Evolution of Texting

Think back to the time you received your first cell phone. Most everyone in this class will relate this period of time to when flip phones were still a thing or phones that were just being developed with “qwerty keyboards”. We were so… fascinated by this new form of communication. However, it is considered the most common form of communication in today’s society. There was a point in history where the act of texting didn’t even exist, so how did this nonexistent term come to be so popular?

How mobile phone technology has changed over the last 40 years | Netstar

There was a time when those taking part in texting back and forth could only send SMS messages; better known as the dreaded “green bubble”.  In 1984, two European men came up with the concept of SMS messaging. However, it wasn’t until 1992 that the first SMS text message was sent through a retro company known as Nokia.

The 1990s was the developmental aspect of texting. This is when companies were learning how to send text messages to other people and how to use this new type of medium to communicate. Texting became available around 1993 for person-to-person, and then eventually through various networks like businesses. The 90s were also the time when the T-9 keyboard was invented.

a cinderella story hilary duff gif | WiffleGif Services were starting to be made available on mobile devices in the early 2000s. The news was able to reached on mobile phones at the beginning of the new millennium. “Text to” became very popular during this decade as well: “text to vote” on the hit singing show, American Idol, “text to donate”, “text to receive updates” on the presidential campaign. this was a time period where texting started become known and was being used commonly in everyday life.

2010 was not only the time “texting” was added to the dictionary, it was also when Apple iPhones started to become popular. The hype of a going from a T-9 keyboard, flip phone to an all touch screen iPhone was game changing. This may have been when the great Android vs. iPhone battle begin, also referred to as green bubble vs. blue bubble.

In our present day, texting has almost become a task. There are people who will have over 100 unread messages in their phone, with no intentions of replying to any of them. As far as we have come with being able to text, it seems that people would rather use the talk-to-text feature on their phones, or face-time, or talk to their apple watch. As the evolution of texting starts to become something that isn’t evolving anymore, the beauty of calling and seeing someone’s face while trying to communicate will hopefully *fingers crossed* be making a comeback.



Phoenix Rising: The Fall and Rise of a Writing Genre

The date is December 15, 2017 and an icon in the childhood of many passes away silently without notice…

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) finally shutters its virtual doors on the tail end of 2017, but the announcement barely makes a blip in the news due to the service already having been on its death bed for years.

The once very popular instant messenger began its prolonged death in earnest in 2011 after the dramatic rise in popularity of SMS messaging and social media plummeted its market share to 0.73%. AIM’s demise seemed a natural part of the seemingly inevitable shift from dedicated instant messaging (IM) services towards other digital writing genres that were rapidly growing as the 2010s began but in actuality it did not end up so.

Before continuing, a moment of silence for the deceased (pictured below).

AIM Running Man

AIM Running Man (May 1997 – December 2017)

Research in 2010 by Grabill, et al.’s on “The Writing Lives of College Students” placed instant messaging as the 7th most frequently written genre of writing for college students (just after mostly academic genres). Yet, the same paper show signs indicative that the genre is on the way out in terms of usage and value, which can be seen through college students rating it as the 15th most valuable genre and the close trailing by the just emerging social networking genres just behind it at the 7th and 8th place in frequency. As seen through the demise of AIM a year later, these negative indicators shined true and so began an era in which social media began to dominate (Facebook hits the NASDAQ in 2012 and its billionth user in 2013) and instant messaging became a feature (Facebook messenger, Gmail messenger, etc.) over a dedicated service.

Enter the smartphone, the handheld miracle worker of the 21st century and the savior for instant messaging. Instant messaging apps provided a inexpensive and readily accessible alternative to one of the dominant writing genres of the period — SMS texting (ranked number one in frequency in Grabill, et al.’s research). SMS texting would be surpassed by IM apps in volume of messages in 2013, and two years later a single IM app (WhatsApp) alone would account for more messages daily than SMS texting as a whole, thus the instant messaging writing genre began its climb back towards the top.

Now, not only has instant messaging majorly beat out the former number one (SMS texting), but IM has also beat out the other writing genre which had edged it out years prior with IM apps now holding 20% more active monthly users over that of social networks as of 2020.

Picture of various instant messaging apps, such as Snapchat, WeChat, and WhatsApp

Various instant messaging apps (such as Snapchat, WeChat, and WhatsApp)

Through it all instant messaging has endured, and I believe it will continue to do so for many years more since it is marked by two essential traits in any frequently used genre of written communication — versatility and accessibility.

So, here’s to the the one who all instant messaging apps can thank a lil’ for their existence — thanks AIM.