5 Ways Young People Are Using Discord

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“It’s not really like any social platform where you post or have a feed, like Instagram,” Mr. Strandaa said. “It is kind of like a space for talking.”

On New Year’s Eve, he said, he plans to travel to Finland to meet a friend he made on Discord.

In Nicaragua, Brandon Ha, a 16-year-old who has developed an anime game on Roblox, the gaming site popular with children, runs a Discord server with over 100,000 fans of his game. He’s a big fan of the platform, and uses it to chat with the people who play his game, much like how a celebrity might occasionally interact with fans on Twitter or Instagram.

Discord, he said, got off to a bad start — at least in terms of perception — with headlines about child predators and white nationalists flocking to it. Because of that perception, though, and because of a belief among many people his age that Discord is mostly for nerdy gamers, Brandon said he and his friends at school were not open about their use of the platform. “It’s something that’s embarrassing for us,” he said.

A common insult to frequent Discord users, or to moderators who spend hours on online communities, Brandon said, is that they need to “go out, exercise, touch grass.” But one sign of its growing popularity: Some of his friends who are girls are now using Discord, he said.

Kyleigh Jacobs, a 23-year-old San Diego resident, uses Discord to call with her friends during their weekly musical album discussion group, and to play the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.

Ms. Jacobs, who works at a medical devices company, had never used Discord before the pandemic and does not play video games. But she got on the platform on the advice of her friends.

“I mostly just use this for a really specific purpose, for talking to friends or playing games,” she said.

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