Cyworld and Buddybuddy, social networks that everyone has heard of at least once, are available to use again. Cyworld Z, a content company, said it will make its existing services available again. Buddybuddy also announced its revival by posting a photo on its website with the phrase “Buddybuddy, a shoe with wings that connects people, is coming again”.
Cyworld was established in 1999 and was a first-generation SNS that allowed users to create their own homepages and choose background music. Buddybuddy gained great popularity as a medium of communication by being able to search for friends in "Find a Friend" without knowing the account, and using emoticons to express feelings. Cyworld and Buddybuddy lost their popularity to Facebook, KakaoTalk and Twitter as smartphone use became more popular. The services of the two SNSs, which failed to adapt to the changing digital environment, were suspended.
Changwon University students were interviewed to gauge their reactions on the return of these nostalgic SNS.
Q: Please introduce yourself.
Park: Hello. I'm Park Yoo-jin, a third-year student in the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Changwon University.
Jeong: Hello. My name is Jeong Ji-young, and I am a third-year student in the Department of Culture Technology at Changwon University.
Q: Did you ever use Cyworld or Buddybuddy?
Park: I played Cyworld from the 3rd grade of elementary school to the 1st grade of middle school.
Jeong: I've never played Buddybuddy, but I've heard the seniors talking about it. I started using Cyworld at the end of its popularity, and watched my parents use it.
Q: What were the benefits of using these SNS?
Park: When I used Cyworld I felt like I had my own space. It was popular to decorate your mini homepage like decorating your diary nowadays. It was interesting to write and share a diary. Also, I could look at a diary written by someone else and write a comment on it. I was able to set up background music, but I chose bgm to not overlap with my friends and I listened to a playlist on my friend's mini homepage. When you clicked on a friend's name, the first degree name appeared along with the friend’s name. This was important. Now that I think about it, those names are cringe.
Jeong: I became familiar with Cyworld by writing comments with an awkward friend. Also, my mom posted a lot of pictures of me when I was young, and I was able to recall a lot of memories while looking at the pictures she had posted.
Q: What do you think about Cyworld and Buddybuddy being available again after 20 years?
Park: I'm looking forward to using it and I'm a little worried. It's a nostalgic platform for me, so I have expectations about how it should be. But on the other hand, it's a collection of embarrassing moments from my past, so I also wish that it wasn’t coming back. So I have mixed feelings about it.
Jeong: I think what we enjoyed back then is now available again. I doubt if it will continue to be popular for a long time, but I was excited to be able to see my childhood photos again. I remember that I signed into my old account again but I couldn't find the photo, so I hope the photo book will be revived again.
Q: Nowadays, SNS such as Instagram and Twitter are popular. How do you think Cyworld and Buddybuddy are different from the newer SNS that are commonly used today?
Park: The thing that is probably the most different between the older and more recent SNS is how users access these SNS. When I use Cyworld, I mainly use a computer. It takes me longer to upload pictures because I transfer them from my mobile phone to my computer, so it's slower than connecting to SNS with my smartphone. Cyworld has an app now, but I always remember using Cyworld by turning on my computer to access my mini homepage. Now we can access Instagram instantly on a smartphone, so the ease of access has changed a lot.
Jeong: When I used Cyworld, I paid for an item called an "Acorn" to decorate my homepage. I think that’s the major difference between SNS back then versus now.
The news of the return of old SNS has elicited a variety of reactions, and many people hope that they will be able to see old photos again. However, it is unknown if the chat window will come back. Since the biggest disruptions to these old SNS was the change of the digital environment, some changes in connection and usage are expected. Recently trends of the past called, also known as “retro”, is in vogue, so the revival of nostalgic platforms is raising expectations for many people. If and when they come back, a new generation of people who have never experienced these old platforms will be able to participate in a brand new experience.
By An So-yeon, cub-reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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