I honestly cannot believe that this is our second to last seminar. However, thinking back, we have come so far from that first seminar when we were just discussing the beginning of the ARPAnet that it is mind boggling. I have learned so much through this experience that I wouldn’t have in a traditional class, which has made this seminar one of the most formative experiences of my freshman fall. Consequently, I cannot thank Professor Waldo and Dean Smith enough for the work they have put in to make this class a reality.
This week the topic we discussed was online communities, anonymity, identification, and the right to be forgotten on the Internet. One interesting idea that came up during our discussion was the hypothesis that people like Snapchat because it has no positive or negative reinforcement in the form of likes or comments that are fundamental to other platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. I never really thought about this before or the reasons why I use Snapchat, but it makes sense. Because we are not going to discuss social media in the upcoming week, I want to discuss this further.
From my research, it is evident that millennials love to use Snapchat because it contains certain features that remove the concerns about identity that plague the Internet. First of all, as we discussed in class, Snapchat has no positive or negative reinforcement. This is huge for a popular social media platform because so much of our society today is about competition. People post on Facebook and Instagram with the thought of how many likes or comments their post will receive always lurking in the back of their mind, but with Snapchat, this is not the case. Users are more willingly to share what they truly want to share because they are not concerned about the recognition a photo or video will grant them. Furthermore, Snapchat completely eliminates the problem of posts persisting through time, which often creates an identity for a specific individual on the Internet that he or she dislikes because it is not an accurate representation. On services like Facebook, something embarrassing that you posted five years ago may still be visible today unless you deleted it. Contrastingly, on Snapchat, all posts delete automatically, whether that be after at most 10 seconds for photos and videos sent to friends or 24 hours for stories. This is a crucial part of why Snapchat has so much favor among millennials. Users don’t have to worry about what they post being on the Internet indefinitely because their posts are disposable, meaning that they are more inclined to post photos and videos that truly align with their current identity. Lastly, Snapchat is personable and consists of smaller social circles than other social media groups. To become friends with someone on Snapchat, you must either know his or her username or phone number. Thus, it is much more difficult to develop a large social circle on Snapchat than it is to on say Facebook. Consequently, because of this smaller social setting, Snapchat is intimate compared to other services as users are often more trusting of their following base.
In whole, identity is not a permanent set of characteristics, but rather it changes. Currently, Snapchat is the only major social media platform that takes this into account.