Photo Courtesy of Emma Saso
by Emma Saso
“Shhhhhh, she’s coming!” It’s 9:55 PM and the whereabouts of the birthday girl have been confirmed via iMessage.
“Turn off the lights!” The room goes dark. She’s on the first floor, walking up the stairs. Just a minute away.
“Should we hide?”
“There’s nowhere to hide!”
The people jammed into the overcrowded room whisper, bump and scramble as they rush to get set in their places for the surprise. As they settle in and quiet down, only letting muffled giggles of excitement escape from their slightly parted lips, they pull out their iPhones, open their Snapchat apps, and point their cameras to capture the face of the birthday girl as she opens the door to an unexpected horde of gleeful college students.
In September of 2011, Snapchat released its first version of what would become a $19 million app. Now, only four years later, it has rapidly grown into one of the most popular and heavily used forms of social media out there. It oversees some 400 million snaps and four billion video views each day, with a total of 8,796 “snaps” being shared every second (Adweek).
Snapchat use is particularly concentrated on college campuses, where an estimated 77 percent of students use the app daily. The average 18 to 29 year old user spends 20 minutes on the app every day (Sumpto).
Pitzer College is no exception to this wide-spread theme of college students and Snapchat use.
First year Marissa Weinstock uses Snapchat “for making jokes and playing with the weird face filters, and basically just for fun. Never anything serious.” Most students use the app for “casual conversation,” as she puts it. In other words, Snapchat is an easy and low-pressure way to strike up a conversation with someone new.
As easily as Snapchat can foster conversations with new people, it is also valued for easing the challenge of keeping in contact and maintaining relationships with old friends, no matter where they may be.
“I don’t use Snapchat much to talk to friends at school but it’s easy to Snapchat with friends back home to keep in touch,” first year Hannah Bueler said.
As the popularity of Snapchat has skyrocketed, that of Facebook has been plummeting in comparison. With teens preoccupied by newer and more exciting social media applications like Instagram, Yik Yak, and Snapchat, Facebook has taken the back burner. After over ten years, the pioneer that Facebook was is experiencing a decline in the “activity” of its users as well as a decline in the number of new sign ups.
Teens are less inclined to join Facebook now more than ever because it has turned into something they associate with their parents. Initially, Facebook took the form of a connecting medium for teens and young adults. However, because Facebook has expanded its popularity to all generations, teens nowadays have grown up with parents scrolling through Facebook feeds, sharing pictures, and liking statuses.
It’s just not cool anymore, but Snapchat is.
Snapchat however, like all other social networking sites, has its downsides. First year Simone Baldwin said, “I wouldn’t use Snapchat to get to know somebody, because most times social media isn’t an accurate representation of who they are.”
Our attention spans have been reduced considerably with increased use of Smartphones. According to a Microsoft study, humans have undergone a deterioration in attention span from twelve seconds to eight in the last 15 years. One of the reasons apps such as Vine and Snapchat flourish as they do is because they cater to these shorter attention spans through short videos and quick photos.
She added that “Snapchat is a nice way to keep up with friends because you’re sharing little bits of your life. But I hate how they have to rely on that for their relationships to function.” This speaks to the arguable point that although Snapchat makes it easy to connect with others, it fails, in a way, to foster relationships that reach deeper than the surface.
Like Facebook years ago, Snapchat has recently gained massive amounts of popularity especially among our generation. Social media’s cycle of novelty and obsoleteness is bound to continue; the question only remains of when Snapchat—like Facebook—will reach the end of its lifespan and slowly begin to fade out of our lives. What will be next?