Is this you? You heard somebody you know uses Snapchat, and, being the early adopter you think you are, hastily proceed to download the free app. It starts you off with the sign-up process and you have a flittering moment of fun creating your animated profile pic.
You flick up, left, right, left again and then one more up – performing a quick orientation session as you appreciate the different control centers for adding friends, posting snaps and viewing “discover” stories. “Seems easy enough,” you think to yourself with a smug sense of pride in your enduring ability to get down with the kids.
Then it happens. You ask the fatal question that proves it…
“Where is my wall?”
Congratulations. You are a Facebook Dad. Or mom for that matter. We know this because you inevitably (or begrudgingly) joined Facebook in 2006 or 2007 before you had kids, and you’ve been adding slickly contrived memories to your online journal ever since. Sometimes you scroll a few years down the timeline to chuckle (or cringe) at your own meticulously handcrafted ticker-tape of life and remember how different things were.
Now you want to get into Snapchat because if you don’t, you will have to concede that you have become your parents. As is overwhelmingly the case these days, they use Facebook far more than you ever did.
But, for the Facebook generation, adjusting to Snapchat has turned out to be more difficult than anyone might have anticipated, and the reason has nothing to do with functionality of the app or how tech-savvy this generation is. It’s purely a matter of psychology.
For the benefit of our Facebook Dads and Moms everywhere, I have identified the single fundamental psychological barrier that you need to shift in order to understand the Snapchat hype, and even click into the zone that will addict you to the groundbreaking social platform for years to come.
“It doesn’t need to be forever.”
One of Facebook’s most significant reforms was the introduction of the “Timeline” back in 2011. They did this to combat the issue of content being lost in the past, and we promptly danced around the flames of our burning paper scrapbooks in embracing this beautiful and safe online equivalent.
But Snapchat has done precisely the opposite by thumbing their nose at this instinct to preserve; instead celebrating their notorious 24-hour content expiry as a key value proposition. Facebook Dads simply cannot understand why you would ever record a moment and allow it to disappear forever.
The problem is that Facebook, the dominant social network of the past decade, has conditioned this generation into believing there is only one kind of moment worth sharing with our friends: those that hold some bigger significance. It can only be that vastly impressive Sashimi Salad from Nobu, or your pug’s guilty face as he stands over a shredded magazine, or that first baby smile (that you fiercely deny is just a muscle spasm from trapped gas).
Facebook Dads and Moms would never dream of boring their friends with multiple random unimpressed selfies, or a movie poster on a telephone kiosk, or a pigeon pecking on sidewalk vomit, or a botched eyeliner attempt in the bathroom mirror, or even just a frame of an anticipated TV episode to prove they watched it. Back in the day, those of us who posted too many random pics or updates were vilified, and even blocked for clogging up the timeline with “garbage”.
But the point here is that these random snapshots of daily life are way more important for our social expression as they convey more truth about ourselves than the ones etched in stone ever could. If you want to truly know someone, or if that person truly wants you to know them, then the only way to socialize is through the brief flittering moments of minor daily significance that create a more natural bond – a bond that far more closely imitates real friendships than Facebook is presently capable of doing.
Facebook offers the ability to maintain relationships with people you cannot see every day, but I argue that the only relationship you end up having is with the contrived, choreographed, photoshopped and authored versions they portray; not the one that exists inside of the 24 hour window of truth.
If you want to be my friend, and you want to see a snap I took of this piece of fluff between the G and H on my keyboard, you have less than 24 hours to add me.