Could Snapchat be our saviour?
Evan Spiegel isn’t the first tech entrepreneur to turn down an eye-watering amount of cash but I suspect, and hope, that his reasons go beyond what’s being reported: that he’s “holding out for an even bigger offer next year”.
I think Evan knows that he’s onto something much bigger and more interesting than money, he might have a shot at changing how people connect – and not just digitally.
Facebook keeps us out of the physical present. As demonstrated by the sea of blinking camera phones at every concert or notable event, Facebook makes us less engaged in events as they occur. Instead of the physical experience, we’re focussing on how our recording of it will be consumed and reacted to by our expansive social networks. Mind you, it’s hardly surprising when we’re rewarded with a tingle of adrenaline when one of our witticisms, posts or photos starts to gain some ‘social traction’ – oh yeah.
This constant ‘push’ approach to socialising has the effect of us appearing as (and becoming?) narcissistic bores with a fairly wide and shallow set of friends interests. And this pressure, self-imposed and not necessarily negative in itself, does definitely distract from living in the moment.
Snapchat however only lives for a moment. There’s no permanent record (or so we hope), likes, links or comments to worry about. Just something that’s there in a flash, to be remembered by the organic mush between your ears.
Snapchat gives social media a way of communicating that’s ephemeral and non-permanent. In other words it gives social media a very human quality – the ability to experience and recall an event as a moment in time and, eventually to forget it all together. And although I don’t use it much, I love the idea.
Is it a stretch to imagine that in a world where Snapchat has replaced Facebook, physical groups of friends will socialise predominantly with those present? Surely in terms of return on social investment; engaging with the five friends sitting around the table is a better bet than engaging momentarily with a Snapchat Team? I’m probably missing this point…
Well, even if Evan isn’t playing for master of the social universe, selling to Facebook would clearly have been a massive betrayal to his user base. Snapchat relies on people trusting that their private images vanish and “private images” is not a really concept promoted by Facebook.
Either way, with his success as it is, Evan is never going to have trouble raising finance or feeding and clothing himself so has rightly chosen to protect the most valuable asset of all – his reputation.