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It's a Snap: Getting Snappy with Snapchat

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Kids nowadays are enjoying a particular app called Snapchat, known for its fun, spontaneity, and hallmark feature of not having everything permanently recorded over social interactions in the internet. Despite the outcry of those regarding Snapchat as a sexting device used for sharing explicit sexual material amongst peers without guilt, others appreciate the novelty of having an almost real-life interaction online – where thoughts, words, and images are freely flowing without it being broadcast to the world for instant fame or unforgettable shame.

Due to this feature, Snapchat is evolving how people interact on social media. The internet is not only a place to save pictured memories or document messages for future reference, but it’s a place where privacy can be taken advantage of through fun means. Kids tell Snapchat investor Bill Gurley that they don’t want their daily lives recorded, and see Facebook like adults view LinkedIn. They would rather have their shared material self-destruct than be judged by their peers. They want a platform where they can communicate without the anxiety of permanence. However, the irony of the psychology that ignites the boom of Snapchat comes from the constant portrayal of oneself to peers.

The amount of sharing makes up for the lack of permanence. Since what is shared on Snapchat is disappeared instantly, especially photos or video clips sent by peers, the so-called real-life communication that people can experience through Snapchat takes on a different form. A big hint comes from Gary Vaynerchek, CEO Co-Founder of Vayner Media who believes Snapchat is his greatest marketing tool. He says, “If you’re not using Snapchat for your marketing, you’re not getting it.” He adds that you have to have someone’s attention when using the application.

Kids may be afraid of being judged, but they also desire attention. The instantaneous nature of Snapchat may be perfect for kids, or anyone else, to send a barrage of images of themselves to other people without worrying. Then the purpose of Snapchat can also be understood as a way to market oneself a certain way through the images they choose to send, more so than as a way to cherish privacy of a friendship. The marketing works, because nothing is saved, so there must be something else to fill up the empty slate. To reiterate what kids say, it’s fun.

Darrell Etherington of Techcrunch is convinced that taking photos with Snapchat is in many ways more about the audience than traditional photography. The person has to create a moment for someone else, because the sole purpose of taking the picture is to give it to someone else. This picture that’s being given will almost always include the person taking the picture, so that another person can see it.

The rise of an ephemeral social network such as Snapchat may be creating a new art form of picture-taking, but it may also be creating a new art of communication: of knowing what to say or depict at a certain moment and sending it to someone in a brief, concise manner usually in image form that will satisfy them for more. It’s very common for human interaction to have different levels of anxiety or fear of being judged, but with Snapchat, those feelings disappear in what people like to call real-life communication. Instead, people are telling stories about themselves through Snapchat, stories that will disappear if you don't pay enough attention.

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