I don't know if Snapchat or Facebook Poke are just fads. I doubt anyone truly does (beware of gurus and enthusiasts on this one). And I sure don't get what all the fuss is about, except that it's yet another sign we're losing depth in the content we create and consume.
I'm not a big fan of long reads. I do appreciate the occasional longish report on some interesting topic (providing it's well written, of course), but it's not what brings a smile to my face. In fact, I love short form content because it sets interesting boundaries to our ability to communicate an idea with as little content as possible. That's why I like Twitter, for instance.
But depth isn't just in the number of characters we use. It's also in meaning and some sort of timelessness. Sure, a tweet can be more insightful than a 5000-character blog post. But who's to tell is someone only read it for less than a minute? Or entering a deeper level of discussion, who decides what deserves to stay registered and what deserves to disappear? Who decides who gets to know what message was sent?
The answer is obvious: we do, you and me and anyone who's involved in the most basic process of communication, regardless of the platform. So my true question is: where does our self-worth go if we choose to communicate something which is not to be reminded later? I'm not talking about the most insightful of manifestos or that fantastic picture of a sunset in Lisbon, but the simple act of sharing with friends and connecting with one another and reminding ourselves of those moments as years go by. Why should that go away?
Carl Franzen states these self-destructing messaging apps can be useful for various reasons, which are not necessarily the same reasons for which people use them right now. And I'm fine with his opinion, in fact it's a rather insightful post to say the least. You should read it before you proceed.
What I'm not fine with is our shift of attention towards something which turns communication into something merely momentaneous, quickly consumed and ultimately discardable. Maybe we're in too deep on the affluence of fast-paced content. Maybe that's why the GIF format was named word of the year, because it sets the status quo of our times: quick, dynamic, shareable, discardable. Done. Next. Repeat.
A message should be equally worth sharing as it is worth saving. That's my view on the powerful role of communication. I don't know about the future of Snapchat or Facebook Poke, nor do I know what will be of digital communications as these quick-draw content apps enter our social lives because I can only speak for myself.
But I think we should value our own content as our way of expressing ourselves. We're willingly sharing it because we believe it has enough substance for anyone else to hear, even if for the single experience of remembering later what silly conversation we had that day with our friends. It's our message to the world. It's our legacy with those that matter most to us. It's our story. I can't understand why we'd want to delete that.