Between eternity and ephemerality (or, "why old people are not on Snapchat?")

Poetic article's titles are very interesting; they open room for a series of discussions, from philosophy to gravitational waves, going through what I effectively want to deal with here: media consumption.

It all started with this comic (EN translation below):


“Soon or later, we all got the visit..

  • Oh no!

“… from the ghost…

  • You need to use me!
  • I’ve tried, but I cannot understand how it works!

“…of Snapchat”

  • You old man! All the kids are using!
  • I know, i’m such a stupid!

…which has driven a pub-talk into phrases like:

  • But after you see the video add? I mean, I see it again?
  • What if I want to answer the message another time? When I look, it will have disappeared?

Yes, we were all over 30 y/o on that table, and glad there were no Facebook nor YouTube when we were doing our teenaging-stuff (some of us would have serious problems in job interviews).

The world has changed … again

We’ve been through a transition from offline on pro and, recently, to onoffline (everything is mixed); the advertising market still follows the transition struggle from interruptive models t noon-interruptive (sometimes mistakenly reduced to the “branded content” talk); and by looking at the considerable growth of digital tools like Snapchat, WhatsApp and Periscope (among others), we could perhaps consider a new phase of migration: from eternal to ephemeral content.

“Ephemeral” is all that is short-lived; that is brief; transitional.

In a way, contradicting with human evolution. From the earliest written records (5,500 BC), through Gutemberg (1455) and finally the Internet (1969), people not only started to create and disseminate more content, but also store it and, as the time passes, on lower levels, recovering it (accessing the past). But we got into an unsustainable point…

The past is the past, live the present!

In the communication, the excess of information and its exchange flow (information overload / overflow) are the reasons relevance filters became more important (tools or criteria to select relevant information among all the available data).

However, it seems that this is not enough anymore, because we used to loose more time organizing and retrieving information from the past than generating or consuming information at present. Doubt it? Look at the number of folders in your Outlook / Lotus Notes from work with ‘emails that I’ll save because .. well, who knows?’), Look at the number of photos in your Facebook albums (especially on “Mobile Uploads”). How much of this information do you really get back to consume again?

Excessive information storage (and unnecessary worry about it) brought an immediatist data consumption-and-discard behavior. While audio/visual content — ie photos and videos— remains appealing, we see the youngest switching to tools like Snapchat and Periscope and abandoning (or not so excited about) those that work as “virtual history repository", like Facebook.


In this scenario, the core usage is not to create a “virtual diary of events”, but look after the immediate excitement and the experience of another reality (from who is posting); all hail to “Being John Malkovich."

The past, however, remains relevant, or, better saying, some information / content are worth being saved for one day — perhaps, perhaps — being recovered to, at least, be used as a historical reference to your kids (“Hey, here's dad on his 16's, playing the guitar!").

But, for all other things, there will be only their 10 seconds of fame.

9 … 8 … 7 …


JC Rodrigues has a major in Advertising and Marketing (ESPM), post-grad in e-Business (UFRJ) and MBA in Digital Marketing Management (ESPM). Former professor at ESPM University and Miami Ad School. Has started his carreer in 1996, working for companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Ford, Euro, JWT, among others; in the last 7 years has been the Director of Disney Interactive operation at The Walt Disney Company. Is an expert on digital marketing and interactive communication; and author of the book “Playing god — Creating Virtual Worlds and Digital Immersive Experiences”.