Thursday, March 03, 2016

A Little Love for Snapchat

I'm a big proponent of allowing everyone, including kids, to have an online presence. Blogging, Facebook, Twitter; give me a few minutes and I'll be glad to step on my soapbox and preach as to their value. But Snapchat? Well, not so much.

Snapchat as I first experienced over a year ago is an app custom built to frustrate parents. For those who need a refresher, Snapchat is the app that allows you to send a message (typically a photo) and it gets automatically "deleted" after the receiver has viewed it for a few seconds. Deleted is in quotes because this is the web and computers and such, and nothing should ever be considered deleted.

In other words, it's practically inviting you to undress, take photos of yourself, send them to your friends.

OK, perhaps not. But that's what the doomsday fear is. And I can't blame parents who worry about what kind of mischief their kids are going to get into with an app that appears to provide a behavioral free pass.

From my perspective, Snapchat's lack of history means that you lose all the archival benefit of web publishing. Those photos you snapped of your buddies at the football game all disappear with Snapchat. But wouldn't it be cool to see those photos 30 years from now? Trust me kids, it would be.

But enough Snapchat hate, thanks to this article: Why Your Kids Love Snapchat, and Why You Should Let Them I'm willing to re-think the service.

The premise of the article is that many of the negative unintended consequences of typical social networks are avoided with Snapchat. Consider the evils of the Like button:

Most visual platforms put feedback from peers at the center of the experience. Life on Instagram, for example, is as much about the rush of scoring likes as sharing something creative with peers. Many users view likes as a barometer of popularity and even self-worth, with some even deleting posts that haven’t drawn enough attention. For tweens and young teenagers, the yearning is so powerful that many post content designed only to collect likes (the popular “rate for a like” post, for instance, offers to rate friends on a scale in exchange for a like). They may follow “Instagram stars” with hundreds of thousands of followers, observing what appear to be perfect lives that are, in reality, perfectly curated.

I suppose it boils down to this: what if you just want a way to chat with your friends? You're not interested in recording every moment for posterity, or leaving a digital footprint to impress colleges, or leading a revolution. You just what to say Hey. Well, it's hard to argue with the crude effectiveness of Snapchat.

Read the article and snap on!

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