Why all the kids are flocking to the ephemeral web

It seems like just yesterday Generation Y’ers like myself would hide from our parents on the private recluse that is the world-wide-web. Our obnoxious dial-up modems opened new channels of communication that extended far beyond the household landline. Suddenly I could hold private conversations with my friends while building a solid network of contacts on old-school apps like the MSN and AOL messenger systems, my face glued to the computer screen and my parents clueless as to what I was doing. Social networks like Nexopia, Hi5 and MySpace burst onto the scene as venues where my teenagers could muse about weekend parties, share viral videos (remember EbaumsWorld and break.com?) and gossip about all things high-school. Soon thereafter, Zuckerberg hit a home-run when he launched FaceBook. Clean, user-friendly, and undoubtedly the cool new kid on the block, everyone with a MySpace profile defected to Facebook (sorry, Tom).

But little did we know, Zuckerberg didn’t just want to tap into the youth; he wanted everyone.

It wasn’t long until our parents were sending us friend requests and our future bosses were scanning our profiles. Suddenly all of our teenage antics were made available far beyond the small network of our closest friends, and for some of the more unfortunate, it came back to haunt them.

Enter SnapChat.

Launched in 2011, SnapChat has grown faster than all of its competitors in its short lifespan. How did it manage to pick up so much steam over five short years? Well, according to a growth study on GrowthHackers.com, it offers a ‘fleeting’ alternative to the other social networks we are accustomed to:

In an age of permanence, timelines, and revenge posts, Snapchat created a way for teens to share photos freely—without the ramifications of other social services like Facebook. The easy-to-use, self-destructing transiency of the experience feels more human in its interaction than regular MMS, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It goes from a timeline point of view—a historic record of activity—to fleeting, in the moment captures that allow users to drop many of the filters we’re taught to put on what we share.

In many ways, SnapChat is the antithesis to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, allowing for a much more targeted sharing format based on private, disappearing content, all the while tapping into self-expression that has driven the success of its competitors, albeit in a far more comfortable way. It has become the private recluse that was lost once Facebook became a global human catalogue– Snapchat’s users remain comfortably hidden.

That being said, recent changes have threatened the ephemerality that SnapChat has been founded upon. You can read more about the changes to SnapChat’s privacy policy on the Digital Tattoo.

Do you find yourself more active on Snapchat compared to other social media sites? Or do you feel comfortable sharing content on all platforms? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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