Snapchat’s unexpected success: Why do we love it so much?

by Lehi Naseem, Contributor



That image of your best friend rolling her eyes in her Comm 103 lecture has disappeared. You laughed instead of clicking “like.” And you responded with a blurry, unfiltered, half-face selfie of your perfectly suitable reaction. A selfie unlikely to be posted on Instagram — an unrelenting platform where only polished selfie’s are welcomed.

This is Snapchat. But what’s the big deal?

Snapchat has acquired immeasurable success ever since its debut in 2012, gaining over 100 million users and counting. Although many people are shocked by its ever-growing popularity, its success has proven merited for many reasons, including the positive influence it has rendered on today’s youth.

This generation sees the world through their smartphones and they are constantly criticized for sharing their lives on social media.

Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have gained immense popularity among younger generations because they allow users to share their lives in a creative way.

At the same time, they are slowly earning a bad reputation among older generations, mainly because social media has fostered a culture where users measure self-worth based on the amount of followers and likes they can receive.

But Snapchat has changed the game. There is no “like” button, allowing users to focus more on documenting what they want to instead of what they think will gain the most likes.

There are limited, uncalculated ways to alter your images, including a few filters, time stamps, geotags and a drawing tool that enables users to add a clumsy touch to their photos and videos.

And because it’s impossible to view how many friends someone has on the app, users are less worried about how many people have added them and more focused on the actual people they want to interact with.

Snapchat has eliminated the competition that dominates other social media platforms. Users feel free to post whatever content they believe represents them and they don’t feel the pressure to post aesthetically pleasing photos or videos on their stories because there is no need to impress other users. While other platforms publicly display a user’s follower count or list of friends, Snapchat has more of an intimate touch. You can only add someone by their phone number or username, keeping user engagement real and personal.

Snapchat doesn’t rely on feedback or acceptance from other users. It simply cultivates an environment where users can share their lives with the people they want to and the way they want to.

Aside from eliminating the pressures that come with other social media platforms, Snapchat limits users by only allowing you to record a 10-second video. Often, we are so consumed with capturing the perfect shot, we forget to actually live in the moment. Limiting recording time encourages users to stop and live. No re-tries, no editing and certainly no additives. Blurry, incoherent videos are welcome on Snapchat.

Snapchat allows us to be imperfect, messy and unrefined without the fear of being compared to someone else.

It has diminished the pressures of previous platforms and it has taken our generation by storm. But understandingly Snapchat still has flaws just like all of us. Some users may have nefarious intentions and the issue of “fomo” (fear of missing out) still exists.

However, that is no reason to discredit the app. But it could very well be the principal reason we love it so much.