The power of temporary social media


A friend and I are enjoying a lunch together, when she cracks a raunchy joke.

As she nears the punchline, I see her exact facial expressions. I listen intently, and hear each and every word. A split second later, I bust out laughing. She sees my reaction and also begins laughing. We enjoy a shared moment, and then as the laughing subsides, we continue with our lunch.

Afterwards, I remember her facial expressions and her words, but only as a figment of my imagination. The joke may retold as a story. It may be recast as a rumor. Or it may be forgotten. Whatever happens, the exact scene and the exact words are gone forever.

This is how real human communication works.

Today, we are seeing a trend towards temporary social media. That is, shared media which disappears after a prescribed amount of time. Snapchat is leading the way, but there are other startups on the horizon, such as Frankly.

At first, temporary social media was misunderstood as a gimmick best used for sexting. But with the growing traction of Snapchat, it is clear that it is much more powerful than that.

In my humble opinion, the power of temporary social media is simple: it closely mimics real human communication. We see a message in its exact form, get a chance to savor it, and then it is gone, relegated only to our memories.

P.S. This is post 6/100 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye

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5 thoughts on “The power of temporary social media

  1. Super interesting thought. I’ve thought a lot about how social media today will change lives especially for kids, with everything saved on the internet. I wonder if snapchat knew this going in.

    • Hey David! Yes, I wonder the same thing too. My guess would be that they didn’t know it going in, but quickly realized as it started to gain traction.

      But who knows? I would love to hear the real story from them one day.

  2. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, too. There’s something about the editable nature of our social media, the permanence that makes it feel so eerily inauthentic. It’s that heebyjeeby feeling you get when you see someone flash a fake smile.

    Wonder what you think about Whisper. Their mission statement is to come out with a way to more authentically communicate digitally. I’m not a big adopter of their current V, but love the authenticity that anonymity brings.

    The bittorrent chat client could also be interesting… but with Silk Road shutting down not sure how secure we can feel about any “anonymous” service.

    • Hey Tony! The mission of authentic digital communication is really interesting.

      I’ve played around with Whisper a little and find it surprisingly addictive. There is a certain honesty that comes about from the anonymity. So far, the most powerful thing IMHO is to know that we aren’t alone: many people share the same fears, insecurities, etc.

      Plus, it apparently helps some people hook up, and all great social platforms do that 😉

      • So so true though. My friend just graduated Y Combinator with his weight loss website and one of the mentors goes… sooo it’s like OkCupid for overweight people

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