Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Yourself

Jason Kottke:

I wonder if Snapchat’s intimacy is entirely due to the ephemerality and lack of a “fave-based economy”. Blogs, Flickr, Twitter, Vine, and Instagram all started off as places to be yourself, but as they became more mainstream and their communities developed behavioral norms, the output became more crafted and refined. Users flooded in and optimized for what worked best on each platform. Blogs became more newsy and less personal, Flickr shifted toward professional-style photography, Vine got funnier, and Twitter’s users turned toward carefully crafted cultural commentary and link sharing. Editing worked its way in between the making and sharing steps.

Snapchat feels, to me, a lot like Twitter in its earliest days, despite operating at a scale many times greater than that. It feels lithe and quick. You share things either publicly — to the “Story” — or privately with a handful of people, and doing either feels completely effortless.

But I see all of these social networks as places to be yourself. You don’t have to refine your tweets or hone them for what drives engagement — *sigh* — or tweak your blog posts so they’re “newsy”. It’s totally possible to be entirely yourself everywhere; I feel that I am. And, if you’re as guarded as I am, the “editing” part of the equation never leaves. Everything you publish is yourself, selectively. I don’t see Snapchat as inherently more intimate, but I do see it as more nimble, with every photo feeling like it has the same amount of mental weight as it does physical weight: zero.