For our topic selection, I am going to be proposing we discuss Snapchat, and it’s affects on our current pop culture. Snapchat is a social media app in which users can send disappearing pictures and videos to other users, or to their “story”, where the image or video will last in app for 24 hours. When sending images, users have the option of making the image last for anywhere from 1-10 seconds. After the time selected has passed, the image or video is gone, and can no longer be seen by the recipient. There are of course ways in which these images can be seen after their expiration, such as taking a screenshot. However, the sender of the image is alerted of this screenshot when it happens.
Despite the app’s launch in 2011, Snapchat has become a global phenomenon in recent years. In the past year, the app accumulated 158 million daily active users, over double the amount of daily active users just two years prior in 2014 (Mcguire, 2017). Of these Snapchat users, 7 out of 10 are millennials (“Mediakix, 2016).
Snapchat is an app that provides instant gratification. If you want a friend to see what you are doing in real time, and you want to know if they see the image. With social media trends like this, we are more intertwined with other’s lives than ever. With the culture of sharing created by social media, people’s entire lives are on display for all of their friends at all times.
The main feature separating Snapchat from other instant messaging platforms is their “self-destructing” images and photos. This feature has made the app the go-to way to send nude photos. In fact, market research from the UK found that an estimated 50% of all 18-30 year old users have received nude pictures. In addition to this, 67% of the same age group has received pictures containing “inappropriate poses or gestures” (Piwek, 2016). Though Snapchat will inform their users if the image or video has been screenshot, there are ways to trick the app into not knowing what has been sent, meaning provocative photos that users send could potentially get into the hands of someone who you do not want seeing those images, without the user even knowing. There are apps made to do this. In addition, there have been glitches in the past, such as in 2013 when there was glitch where keeping one’s finger on the screen while taking a screenshot would make it so the original sender wouldn’t receive the screenshot notification (Diaz, 2013).
Many Snapchats that are sent are provocative in another ways. Snapchats being taken while the user is driving was a common enough occurrence, the app added a disclaimer of “don’t snap and drive” into the app. Snapchats being sent while intoxicated are commonplace. Snapchats are frequently a platform to show oneself partying, and being irresponsible. I believe this is due to the fact that these posts will only stay online for 24 hours, and thus make users feel a false sense of security. With the platform being used mostly by millenials, there isn’t the perception of Snapchat being a place where one’s mom or grandmother are going to be seeing it, either, unlike Facebook. Snapchat has become a seemingly safe space for provocative and rowdy image and videos.
Snapchat has grown in popularity dramatically in the last few years. I believe that this topic would be an interesting one to explore in our course to see how the increase in instant gratification and false sense of security has affected the way in which we interact with our friends. The incriminating content that is put onto the app could be taken without the users even knowing it is gone, yet the users use it anyway. Users have lower their inhibitions, and become significantly bolder and more open with their friends on a daily basis.