One morning, sitting hunched at the corner of my bed, I looked down on my phone. I clicked the download button to an app on the display. It was this app that everyone was talking about. The app which had previously gotten a reputation for sexting and sending ‘disappearing photos’. The general praise surrounding it touted it was different, that it was fast becoming a social force to be reckoned with. It made sense to me that I try it out. Social apps were dime a dozen at the time and everywhere you looked someone was trying to sell you their social media service.
I didn’t want to sext anyone. I was in the mood to try something new and since everyone was taking about it, there had to be something behind it.
I took it for a run and the first thing that stood out was how easy it was to use. I just had to tap the shutter button and doodle something on there. Pretty fair and simple. I’m sure I fiddled with a lot the first time using it and the guides made the process much easier. I added a few of my friends on there, and the socializing began (behold!). Nothing monumental came out of it. The most that could happen actually came from me. Meaning the app was solely powered by sharing, or my friends posting something, which made it a whole lot easier for someone who had nothing interesting going on.
The app itself wasn’t without its flaws. Sometimes it would freeze and an error message would pop up. “Unfortunately Snapchat has stopped.” However, after accepting that the app needed some work, I signed up for beta testing and helped for as long as I could. It didn’t bode well for my usage but it was for the better.
Since my relationship with Facebook was on the rocks, Snapchat slowly filled that void. Sure, I had Twitter and text but Snapchat was getting its own fair share, competing with some of the most beloved services. It was growing on me and it needed some nurturing. The more time I spent growing my contacts list meant more time away from Facebook. On the other side, my Snapchat feed became showered with snaps from friends and strangers alike. It wasn’t just an app for sexting anymore or just doodling on pictures, it was growing into a social staple and more people were signing up.
Fast forward 2016, Snapchat has taken the place that many social apps can only dream of. It’s deemed the social darling among its active users, the younger and older generations. And a whole lot of features have been introduced since that time in 2013, the feed is now improved to favor more engagement, and media companies scramble for each slice of the discover feed, bringing “Snapchat friendly” content to the app which is basically video created to fit the portrait format of a phone screen.
You’d imagine, with all this happening, that I’d be Snapchat’s most venerable power user, sending snaps as fast as I can breathe. And considering most of my friends, those who signed up earlier, still use the app religiously, this is to be expected. But none of that is true. I use the app, sure, but not nearly as much as I used to. Part of the problem isn’t Snapchat’s problem, too. There are more services on my phone than I could possibly use and each app has its own userbase which I share common ground with. Apart from taking a Snap, I also need a simple text and WhatsApp is there to take that place. Instagram, also a photo app, calls for pretty photos of lunch or whatever the gratification may call for. Facebook, given I distanced myself from it, keeps me in contact with friends and family, people living outside the Snapchatsphere. And so on.
That’s also the case with Medium. There’s no place I could write to the same audience because there’s something unique about how Medium brings writers together, budding and pros. It’s that essence that calls each time I engage in a post or when I feel like writing something. As a result, I’ve gravitated towards that. The things that take up most of my time. Writing. Texting friends. Saying hello to family. That space, however competed, thins out my interest towards Snapchat.
Like I said, I still use the app here and there and the app is nowhere near collapsing or on a downward spiral. It’s actually burgeoning into different places and playing with interesting features (like faceswap and the recent 3D emojis). It’s great! But this could also be a reflection of the social media space. We have all these apps that are capable of enhancing our experiences, but in the end all that matters is the connections we have with those around us.