13, right now

Excerpt from this article:

This is what it’s like to grow up in the age of likes, lols and longing

Right now, Katherine is still looking down. “See this girl,” she says, “she gets so many likes on her pictures because she’s posted over nine pictures saying, ‘Like all my pictures for a tbh, comment when done.’ So everyone will like her pictures, and she’ll just give them a simple tbh.”

A tbh is a compliment. It stands for “to be heard” or “to be honest.”… “It kind of, almost, promotes you as a good person. If someone says, ‘tbh you’re nice and pretty,’ that kind of, like, validates you in the comments. Then people can look at it and say ‘Oh, she’s nice and pretty.’ ”

…“Happy birthday posts are a pretty big deal,” she says. “It really shows who cares enough to put you on their page.”

…Some of Katherine’s very best friends have never been to her house, or she to theirs. To [her Dad], it seems like they rarely hang out, but he knows that to her, it seems like they’re together all the time. He tries to watch what she sends them — pictures of their family skiing, pictures of their cat Bo — but he’s not sure what her friends, or whomever she follows, is sending back. He checks the phone bill to see who she’s called and how much she’s been texting, but she barely calls anyone and chats mostly through Snapchat, where her messages disappear.

…Even if her dad tried snooping around her apps, the true dramas of teenage girl life are not written in the comments. Like how sometimes, Katherine’s friends will borrow her phone just to un-like all the Instagram photos of girls they don’t like. Katherine can’t go back to those girls’ pages and re-like the photos because that would be stalking, which is forbidden.   Or how last week, at the middle school dance, her friends got the phone numbers of 10 boys, but then they had to delete five of them because they were seventh-graders. And before she could add the boys on Snapchat, she realized she had to change her username because it was her childhood nickname and that was totally embarrassing. Then, because she changed her username, her Snapchat score reverted to zero. The app awards about one point for every snap you send and receive. It’s also totally embarrassing and stressful to have a low Snapchat score. So in one day, she sent enough snaps to earn 1,000 points.

How I Learned to Love Snapchat

I mentioned this article in yesterday’s post, but it’s so full of fascinating commentary that I wanted to give it its own post. Here’s an excerpt:

Texting freed a generation from the strictures and inconvenience (and awkwardness) of phone calls, while allowing people to be more loosely and constantly connected.

I thought about this shift recently when trying to make sense of the rise of Snapchat, the latest wellspring of techno­social hand-wringing. Like texting, Snapchat flourished amid scarcity, though of an entirely different kind. We no longer live in Hillebrand’s era, when there were hard limits on how much we could say over text; but words alone can be an imperfect technology. So much of what we mean lies not just in what we say, or in the exact words we choose, but also in the light that animates our eyes (or doesn’t) when we de­­liver them and the sharpness (or softness) of the tone we use. Text barely captures even a fraction of that emotional depth and texture, even when we can type as much as we want. Snapchat is just the latest and most well realized example of the various ways we are regaining the layers of meaning we lost when we began digitizing so many important interactions.

In 2012, I calculated that I sent about 7,000 texts a month; now, thanks to the creeping unwieldiness of phones and the misfirings of autocorrect, I can barely manage to peck out half a sentence before I become aggravated by the effort and give up. To combat that fatigue, I’ve turned to newer ways to talk and interact with friends, primarily voice memos. These function like a highly evolved version of voice mail — there’s no expectation of a return call, or even a simultaneous conversation. Freed from that pressure, my friends and I leave one another memos about episodes of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Empire,” the themes of “Lemonade” or even just a detailed account of a date or run-in with an ex. The trend is catching on elsewhere: According to an article on Vice’s website Motherboard, voice notes have become so popular in Argentina that they’ve virtually replaced text messages altogether.

But messages that include little actual messaging seem to be the wave of the future, and Snapchat is leading the way.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Yourself on Social Media

Illustration by Karlssonwilker Inc

Excerpt from this article on Kottke, which was inspired by this article in the New York Times:

I wonder if Snapchat’s intimacy is entirely due to the ephemerality and lack of a “fave-based economy”. Blogs, Flickr, Twitter, Vine, and Instagram all started off as places to be yourself, but as they became more mainstream and their communities developed behavioral norms, the output became more crafted and refined. Users flooded in and optimized for what worked best on each platform. Blogs became more newsy and less personal, Flickr shifted toward professional-style photography, Vine got funnier, and Twitter’s users turned toward carefully crafted cultural commentary and link sharing.

Now, as Wortham notes, Instagram is largely a place to put your heavily curated best foot forward. But scroll back through time on anyone’s Instagram and the photos get more personal and in-the-moment. Even Alice Gao’s immaculately crafted feed gets causal if you go back far enough.

…It’ll be interesting to see if [Snapchat] can keep its be-yourself vibe or if users tending toward carefully constructing their output is just something that happens as a platform matures.

 

How Snapchat Built a Business by Confusing Olds

Another good long-read full of info and insights, excerpt from this article, which includes this chart:

Snapchat is just the sort of place where DJ Khaled, in his uninhibited glory, could find an audience. Vice called his Jet Ski adventure “the greatest sitcom episode ever filmed.” Elite Daily, the “voice of Generation Y” news site, raved, “If You’re Not Following DJ Khaled On Snapchat Already, You’re Buggin’.” In December, Khaled posted to Snapchat while getting his iPhone fixed at an Apple Store. Soon he was surrounded by fans. “It was unreal,” he says. “My Snapchat has more viewers than any TV show.”

We Should Probably Have a Conversation About ‘Damn, Daniel’

Excerpt from this article:

It’s “Damn, Daniel,” a series of Snapchat videos that Joshua Holz, a high school sophomore, filmed of his friend, Daniel Lara, during sixth period at Riverside Polytechnic High School in California.

It literally consists of Joshua repeating “Damn, Daniel,” over and over again while filming his friend, who looks only a little uncomfortable. The phrase “back at it again with the white Vans” is also repeated. This particular catchphrase has delighted corporate America.

… Tay Zonday, whose viral video “Chocolate Rain” was almost a decade ahead of its time (and before the “Ellen” show started explaining memes to older generations), expressed some concern over email.

“Today, the lightning of fame can strike any kid with no experience and no business plan,” wrote Mr. Zonday, who at 33 is an elder statesman of viral Internet fame.

 

My Little Sister Taught Me How To “Snapchat Like The Teens”

Excerpt from this article (Brooke and Elsbitch are the handles of the two teens whom the reporter interviews), this whole article is full of fascinating digital behaviours:

ME: How long have you had Snapchat?
BROOKE: My new account? About a month and a half.
ME: New account?
BROOKE: Yeah, I didn’t like my old name, so I made a new account.
ME: So you lost all your friends…?
BROOKE: Not really. I used to have about 215 and now I’m at around 180 or 190.

ME: Tell me what your day is like on Snapchat.
BROOKE: When I wake up, I have about 40 snaps from friends. I just roll through and respond to them.
ME: How do you respond? Like, “haha good one, Elsbitch”?
BROOKE: No conversations…it’s mostly selfies. Depending on the person, the selfie changes. Like, if it’s your best friend, you make a gross face, but if it’s someone you like or don’t know very well, it’s more regular.
ME: I’ve seen how fast you do these responses… How are you able to take in all that information so quickly?
BROOKE: I don’t really see what they send. I tap through so fast. It’s rapid fire.

ME: What is a streak?
BROOKE: You don’t know what a streak is? It’s when you send a snap to one of your friends on consecutive days. You have to make sure to respond every day with a snap or you break the streak.

BROOKE: Don’t Snapchat boys that you like first — wait until they Snapchat you.
ELSBITCH: You need to have more than 150 views on your Story.

ELSBITCH: Don’t overload your Story. Nobody wants to sit and watch five videos. One video MAX.
BROOKE: If you’re weird, people will judge you. People don’t care as much as you do in that moment. Also, EVERYONE looks at Cosmo on Discover. If it’s funny, they share it.
ELSBITCH: Don’t reply to weird people. You could reply once, but definitely don’t get a streak.
BROOKE: Get trophies. It’s not a huge deal, but friends like to compare trophies.
ELSBITCH: Take a selfie on your friends’ Snapchats and add your handle in the text to request more friends. Still, don’t be desperate for followers.

Why Your Kids Love Snapchat, and Why You Should Let Them

Excerpt from this article:

The short shelf life of [Snapchat] images lets teenagers abandon the need to emulate the perfectly posed celebrity, or to represent life as more fabulous than it really is.

…Most visual platforms put feedback from peers at the center of the experience. Life on Instagram, for example, is as much about the rush of scoring likes as sharing something creative with peers. Many users view likes as a barometer of popularity and even self-worth, with some even deleting posts that haven’t drawn enough attention. For tweens and young teenagers, the yearning is so powerful that many post content designed only to collect likes (the popular “rate for a like” post, for instance, offers to rate friends on a scale in exchange for a like). They may follow “Instagram stars” with hundreds of thousands of followers, observing what appear to be perfect lives that are, in reality, perfectly curated.

Not so with Snapchat, where audience participation is minimal. There is no “like” button to be found here, and no unwritten rule of reciprocity. Users have two choices to share content: post a Story, where the app will stitch together a slide show of your content from the last 24 hours; or share directly with a person or group of your choosing. You can see who watched your Story, but viewers can’t reply. That means you spend more time sharing and consuming, and less time worrying about who liked you and who didn’t.

Why I Unfollowed You on Instagram

Excerpt from this article on Medium, where the writer theorizes that “The Social Network is Yesterday, The Interest Feed is Tomorrow“, and which I found after someone tweeted that following this advice was the best thing they could have ever done to make their social media experience better:

I’m looking for an intelligent feed of my interests. A feed of stuff I’m going to like, drawn from a white-list of trusted curators but personalized for me. Not specific to one vertical (News, Music, Stuff to Buy, etc) or one content type (movies, photos, text, links). Ordered by the most relevant, the stuff I need to see RIGHT NOW.

I’ve found hiring these tools for the specific tasks they’re best at has extended their relevance to me by amplifying their value. All this to say — this is why I unfollowed you on Instagram, just like I did on Twitter a few years ago.

I use Facebook to keep a network of people I actually know IRL. There’s real utility to this network and the smaller it is the more useful it can be. This is where I post things that are personal and things that people who know me would appreciate but are not meant for “public”.

On Facebook it’s possible to “Like” bands, companies, brands, etc but I am un-Like-ing those instead. I want Facebook to do this one thing well — give me access to and filter the internet via a network of people I know IRL. Facebook will not be The Interest Graph. We’ve already watched AOL try to be Yahoo!, Yahoo! try to be Google, and Google try to be Facebook. No dominant player from the previous era will ever own the next era, too. This will be a new, purpose-built tool.

I use Twitter as a feed of news and humor. Once I stopped following people I know or celebrities I like and managed my list of Twitter followers as the list of bylines I’d like to see in my dream publication, my feed got interesting again. That said, I don’t consume it very often anymore for the reasons mentioned above.

I use LinkedIn to keep a network of people I’ve worked with and remember well enough to offer a recommendation about (positive or negative). If I don’t know you, I don’t accept your request. However, while I intellectualize this theoretical value, I never open the LinkedIn app unless I’m hiring. I do read the LinkedIn emails of news and updates on people in my network, though, so I find culling this list valuable.

Snapchat I use to communicate with a select few people and watch vertical video when I’m bored. The channel offering is limited and Snapchat has neither encouraged me to follow too many people nor put the most interesting stuff at the top for me yet.

Instagram, on the other hand, is special in that it is a medium for creativity, not information. “Creativity loves constraints”, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and the (initially) square box of Instagram allowed all of us to communicate a moment as artistically as we were capable. Popular artists of the medium were born. Artists embraced the medium. I love Instagram in an emotional way I don’t love any of these other services.

Lilly Pulitzer Has Created Custom-Printed Filters for Snapchat

Lilly Pulitzer Has Created Custom-Printed Filters for Snapchat

Excerpt from this article:

When it comes to this collaboration, the Geofilter is activated when a customer enters one of Lilly’s 31 corporate stores (including the Madison Ave location). Then they will be able to access a custom-made brightly printed geo-filter that will link to their phone automatically. All the customer needs to do is swipe left once the app is open, and the Lilly filter will be first, whereas if you swipe right it will be last after the default time/temperature filters.

Users can then play around with the patterns to use on the Snapchat application in a way that’s never been done before, adding them to selfies and group shots. Users have the option to send the finished Snapchat to a select group of friends, post it to their Snapchat story for followers to view for the next 24 hours or just save it to their phone as a keepsake.

Be the Star of Your Own Snapchat Story

Excerpt from this article:

The best way to understand Snapchat Stories is to imagine a short and very personal TV show: directed, edited and starring you. There are technical limitations. The videos are shot and viewed mainly on smartphones. And each clip can be up to only 10 seconds long, though you can record dozens of them in a row, creating an episode that is a few minutes long.

Snapchat Stories can either be private, only viewable by your friends, or public and seen by anyone. But unlike other social video services, and here’s the best part, Snapchat Stories last 24 hours and then — poof! — they’re gone.

And because your clips vanish after being viewed, you can be as normal or silly as you want. In that way, they mimic real life.

That’s the main reason people I know have been drawn to Snapchat Stories. They are fed up with managing injurious comments on Facebook, worried that a vicious mob will attack them for saying the wrong thing on Twitter or frustrated that a photo they share online will show up in a Google search for all of eternity.

A group of teenagers I spoke with recently told me about their secret way of using Facebook so that public posts don’t stay public forever. Here’s how it works: Jack posts a comment on Jill’s Facebook page; when Jill reads the comment, she “likes” it; when Jack sees that, he goes back and deletes the comment. Sounds complicated, but young Facebook users do this to replicate the ephemeral nature of Snapchat.