Once upon a time, when you talked to your friends or showed them something amusing, you didn’t have to worry that your words and images would be recorded in a permanent, searchable database for your classmates, co-workers, employers, acquaintances, and distant cousins to scrutinize. Surreptitious recordings were possible but rare, and, short of blackmail, embarrassing bits weren’t easily spread.
Then came the Internet. It became more convenient to text, email, IM, Facebook or photo-share than call or meet face-to-face. First employers and schools, then parents and finally kids realized that we are being recorded. Within a few years children were taught not to send messages or pictures that revealed anything they didn’t want their mom or principal to see, and adults learned not to share anything they didn’t want strangers or employers to know.
What a bummer. Who wants to hang loose where every move is being recorded for future examination? Who wants to grow up knowing that every immature utterance or gawky image from when they were ten or fifteen might come back to haunt them for the rest of their life?
Someone needed to turn communications back from dangerous to safe, to make it personal and transient as it was before Facebook, to make an invasion of our privacy take some effort— at least enough to be a violation of trust.
That’s Snapchat. Snapchat does the best job it can to make our remote communications relatively convenient and safe, even from our friends, family and co-workers, the folks most likely to cause us grief (or vice versa). Snapchat is the anti-Google and anti-Facebook. That’s one reason Snapchat turned down the billions those companies offered. Snapchat, not email, IM, or text may become the new normal. If so, a $3 billion dollar offer might not have been enough, when a less compelling form of Internet communication, Twitter, a simple message rebroadcast service, is worth $22 billion (as of July 2014).