Snapchat is a social networking tool for pictures and captions. The power of the tool is the ephemeral nature of the post, each post only lasts until you view it. After that the image is erased from the Snapchat servers. People use it to send pictures, sexting and short videos. The application's main demographic consists of users between 13 and 23 years old.
I have a friend whose job is to market to young people, college kids and people in there 20s. He sells them all sorts of things but mainly entertainment. He told me there is a divide between the young and the old, and that divide is Snapchat. If you and your friends use Snapchat, you are young. Their relationship to technology is different than ours.
“What do you mean they are different than us?” I pressed, and he told me if you have to ask, you don’t get it. I said I didn’t feel that old - I’m only 35, and I’m still with it - at least I think I’m still with it. I go on Reddit everyday, I read Huff Po, have Instagram and Facebook. Well, I guess that’s not the difference maker.
So I signed up for Snapchat hoping to discover something. I work with college students everyday, and they are nonstop on Snapchat. I can see them putting silly hats on their friends' pictures and putting on comical filters. I thought it was going to be a blast. I installed the program on my iPhone and logged in. And I guess what he said was right: I have no friends on this. None of the people on my address book were on Snapchat. Finally, I found one coworker on Snapchat, and I send her a picture of me at the library studying. She seemed confused. I guess I’m not doing this right.
Snapchat, like all social networks, can be an exclusive environment, based on your friendship groups and age group. I can see how this can be a fun and powerful tool in an age where everything lasts forever; you can make a stupid post on Facebook and that can follow you around for years, whereas Snapchat relieves some of the pressure that young people must feel when posting pictures and videos since in the Snapchat application it just disappears after a few moments.
I really want to “get” Snapchat. I’m going to ask my student workers tomorrow how to make friends on it. This is a technology that is a divider, and if I can bridge this divide, I will better understand the young people I’m trying to educate.