Nobody over 30 gets Snapchat!
Like nobody over 30 got Woodstock, or punk rock or any other self-defining trend of the past 1000 years. I am quite sure that back in the 1730s or the 1510s, there were “snapchats” that made sense to those using them, as their way of stating who they were and how they talked to each other.
The question that people should be asking as they stop to consider Snapchat’s current multi-billion pound valuation – is whether the IPO can buy them more than a disappearing ten seconds of value. I’m not being a boring old fart and poo-pooing a pop trend as the folly of youth.
Punk was for me a way for me to get an identity distinct not just from those older than me, but from those around me. I was my image as a 16 year old, I had the haircut, the clothes, the music and the attitude, I defined myself by these things, most of which I borrowed from the New Musical Express, Sniffing Glue and a couple of friends who went regularly to London (the Kings Road).
The way snap chat works is simple, you start by taking a snap on your phone, you add some chat (if you like) and you share your identity statement with a friend or friends. The most durable aspect of this is that you are building up a story of your day, which you can look at when its finished so that you can make sense of it.
Then it all goes away and you start again, because you want to live in the present, not your past.
Put the snaps together and you have your story, your identity is your snapchat story. That’s who you are, and if you are 16 and trying to find that out, snapchat matters to you.
Hands off it’s my story
The great value of your Snapchat story is that it is “yours”, your pictures, your narrative and it’s entirely free of intervention by those trying to educate you to be something else.
Thankfully, those who are constantly trying to shape our children into being financial automatons, assiduously saving for the future, managing their credit scores and avoiding reckless expenditure have not got snapchat.
It is however , only a matter of time , till they do. I predict that the moment that the financial education/empowerment/well-being brigade arrive on snapchat, will be the moment for the youth of tomorrow to reinvent their ways of defining themselves.
In the meantime, the only decent thing for people over the age of thirty to do with Snapchat, is to let it be. It’s full of crappy stories from people who want kids to redefine themselves their way. You might think you’re reaching out , but this is what your kid’s hearing
When I’m drivin’ in my car
And a man comes on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination
You might think you’re doing your kid a favour but this is what he’s saying
When I’m watchin’ my TV
And a man comes on to tell me
How white my shirts can be
Well he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke
The same cigarettes as me
And you want to know what’s going on in that kid’s head?
When I’m ridin’ round the world
And I’m doin’ this and I’m signing that
And I’m tryin’ to make some girl
Who tells me baby better come back later next week
’cause you see I’m on losing streak
What Snapchat is , is a place where kids can find out what they’re like with other kids. It’s a place where sex and money and information and all the stuff Jagger was trying to get his head round, are there in front of you. There but not there, available but only on someone else’s terms.
Sorting all this stuff, prioritising it around, is the way kids define themselves and it isn’t helped by people selling satisfaction (or holding it back). Snapchat, helps make sense of things to kids, that is why it is so valuable. It is valuable right now , today, it does it better than just about anything else which is why it is the hottest social media out there.
I predict it will be destroyed, as all the other trends of the past thousand years have been destroyed by kids reinventing the way they choose to define themselves, shaking off the outside interference of those selling them crap – and that includes people like us selling financial literacy.
Snapchat will be history when it becomes somebody else’s story, right now – for millions of youngsters it is “my story”. Let it stay that way.