A few weeks ago, TechCrunch reported on comScore’s latest findings in Social App usage among Millennials. The big news was the sustained rise of Snapchat, which registered #3 in popularity behind Facebook and Instagram. “That means the app is more popular than Twitter,” writes Sarah Perez, “Pinterest, Vine, Google or Tumblr among the millennial demographic, which comScore defines as those between the ages of 18 and 34.”
More verification for a trend many have noted: Messaging apps are trending much faster among young people than broader social platforms. There are all kinds of theories why, but the hypotheses about Snapchat—first it was sexting, then it was selfies-obsession, then it was privacy from parental gaze—probably says more about the would-be theorists than the users themselves.
We all tend to view trends through the lens of our own uses and gratifications of technologies. We grope for answers to “Why Snapchat?” because the idea of taking a picture of yourself, typing or scrawling a message across it and then sending for a supposedly ephemeral viewing does not strike us as either useful or much fun. It is interesting how often our conclusions as to “why” have a dark or negative angle when there might be a much more innocent, perhaps even hopeful, reason that Snapchat and its competitors fit better. Unless you are Twitter.