In present-day 2017, Snapchat has established itself as a primary form of social media. Users send picture messages, which last for a maximum of ten seconds. Once played, these messages disappear into “cyberspace.” Snapchat’s most valuable feature, copied by Instagram and Facebook Messenger, is the Snapchat story. Under this feature, users post videos or pictures, viewable to all their friends. Their story lasts for twenty-four hours. It consists of different events — parties, study groups, concerts, and date nights. While the events seem different, they all advertise exciting lives and exclusivity; everyone elbows and squeezes to fit into the snapchat selfies. The picture is captured instantly. Time is of the essence, for Snapchat is current. One takes the picture and immediately releases it online. Unlike a Facebook album compiled hours following the event, the Snapchat story posts immediately, and Snapchat “friends” view the photos in real time.
It is instant consumption. The audience member is an outsider. He experiences these events in mere seconds. He is there, amid the hysterical laughter, the blasting music and the zestful dancing. Yet he is not. An illuminated phone screen, or a lack of an invitation, separates him from that world. He longs for that life: one of excitement, of bountiful friends and of laughter. He consumes it addictively.
Meanwhile, the similarly addicted user has meticulously crafted this story. Skilled users know their audience well; a mix of teenagers with short attention spans and other social media outlets. They have one shot to grab their attention and communicate their message. Therefore, to do so, they follow rules.
First, the duration should be brief. A long story indicates overcompensation- this user is obviously dissatisfied and bored. To avoid this, one must adhere to a timeframe. While there is no actual maximum, most people will agree that anything over 90 seconds is excessive. Most stories are thirty to forty seconds long. (Note: this rule is more flexible in the face of objectively enthralling events- such as a Beyonce concert or the series finale of Game of Thrones.) This is the first rule.
As for the second rule, stories should include other people. One must avoid solo-selfies. They imply narcissism and loneliness. These implications destroy the product; a thrilling, well-populated and desirable social life.
Successful stories follow these rules. The rules produce the right implications and evoke the right emotions. Successful stories exhibit polished social lives. Ironically, this creation isolates the creator from her audience. Her dedication is to this commercial, not to a wider connection. Her dedication is to an exclusivity and glamor. She’s alone, accompanied only by her perfect advertisement. It’s easy to perceive this phenomenon as an addiction. The snapchatter suffers from an insatiable desire, and that cycle continues.