Snapchat has blossomed into a phenomenon that many have yet to understand. During the first few years of existence, it seemed only teens were enamored with the app. Initially, the population above 20-years-old was afraid that the beloved social media platform would primarily attract teens who were only interested in trading nude photos. While it remains to be a favorite for the younger portion of society, it has since attracted the attention of all ages, demographics, and localities.
Perhaps, teens have grown to love it because they appreciate the way the app quickly “forgets” what was posted. On other popular social media sites what is posted remains in cyberspace forever – the inappropriate, good and bad. While the once dominated Facebook platform admittedly has seen a decline among teens, this more popular app has an active user base of more than 200 million people. Snapchat is a phenomenon that does the job and ditches the evidence.
For people over the age of 30, the recent surge in popularity makes little sense. Many within this age group have just found a new obsession with Instagram. When it comes to social media, the younger population tends to lead the way. They fell in love with Snapchat long before it grew to its current state of popularity. What is this generating and sharing machine which continues to baffle the older generation? According to the website:
Snapchat is a photo-sharing service with one key distinguishing feature: the photos you send disappear. Seconds after opening “snaps,” users can no longer access them and the images are deleted from the company’s servers.
The phenomena of Snapchat as it relates to teens should come as no surprise. Most rapid technological advances arouse this age group first while simultaneously frightening all others. Friedhelm Hillebrand, a German engineer, thrust society into a moral panic when he helped create a two-way text messaging system in the mid-80s. Instead of viewing it as a communication advancement, many feared the complete opposite. Society was afraid that people would succumb to being asocial creatures, who would rather hide behind the safety of a screen than face the intimacy of a spoken conversation.
However, by 2007, texting had become the preferred form of communication by many. Voice calling did not go away but it is no longer the default method of communicating. Texting, amid its initial confusion, had freed an entire generation from the awkwardness and inconvenience of voice-to-voice messaging, while allowing people to remain connected.
The phenomena of Snapchat is, just like texting, it has shifted a generation’s method of communication. Words alone can leave so much to the imagination and has an increased margin of error when interpreting a simple text. Communication exceeds the words chosen; to be effective it needs to include the message of the eyes along with voice tone. Text barely captures even a fraction of that emotional depth and texture. Snapchat helps regain the layers of meaning that have been lost in the digitization of important interactions. The phenomena of Snapchat is, even more than emoji or other replacements, the app offers users the ability to communicate with emotional depth. In fact, by allowing users to send images and short videos which quickly disappear, Snapchat is leading the way with its social-media peers.
Intimate by design, this platform is the place to go for users who simply want to be themselves. Unlike other mainstream mediums, users have less pressure to appear as if they have it all together. Instead, it is the “land” of authenticity. In a strange twist of things, the mundane complexity of user’s regular lives is the most captivating thing shared on the site. Since its inception, Snapchat has flourished into a phenomenon with over 200 million users.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
New York Times: How I Learned to Love Snapchat
Gary Vaynerchuk: Tips on How to Get More Snapchat Followers
Forbes: The Inside Story Of Snapchat
Top Image Courtesy of Lane Fournerat – Flickr License
Inline Image Courtesy of Dean Shareski – Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of We Are Social – Flickr License