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Autoethnography 2: Snapchat Revolution Radhika Anbazhagan

We live in a world where there are myriad ways of connecting and talking to people from our smartphones. Text messages, direct messages on Twitter, and group chat applications like WhatsApp, GroupMe, Facebook, Instagram and of course the recent addition to the list: Snapchat. But what is special about this application compared to others? Unlike the others, the primary form of communication in Snapchat is through pictures. However to the majority of the users of this app on smart phones, find that Snapchat is most appealing to them because it is intentionally ephemeral. Images are seen once for one to 10 seconds and then disappear forever!

In this Autoethnography, I decided to write about this topic essentially because as a college student, I can see the trend of Snapchat, which has dominated our ways of communication. However, my target audience is not just limited to Snapchat users and college students. My aim is to increase awareness of this popular trend among the general public and give them an insight into what exactly it is. To achieve this, Ive looked up five sources of research, provided a glimpse of snapchats and general descriptions and interviews about this Snapchat revolution.

When students and teenagers began to use this app when it was released, they though it was pointless at the beginning to simply share photos that disappear. However, when everyone started using it and sending snaps to and fro to each other, it dramatically increased in popularity. One of the first resources that were very helpful to give a good statistical analysis of this topic was an infographic that explained simple statistics of college students who used to Snapchat and what they thought about it. According to studies, 77% of College students use Snapchat at least once a day and 23% of these students say Snapchating is easier than testing and help them

build and sustain contacts with friends. Moreover, 37% of the students say it provides a forum for some of them to be creative that no other mobile app has allowed them to do. For then, Snapchat is a new form of communication, valued, new form of expression, more than just a picture. What's the most interesting part is now; college officials and universities are using it. Universities have taken notice of the Snapchat phenomenon and are beginning to use the social media platform for

recruitment, advertising and community building!

But is Snapchat limited just to college students? It is found that the highest popularity of Snapchat as a social media communication comes from college students, partly because to use the application extensively, ones friends should also have Snapchat to communicate. Since, adults or working members cannot devote time to any added form of social media and at the same time have lack of friends who use the app, the use of Snapchat is significantly lower. Moreover, college students say that, We live in a selfie generation and it is perfectly normal to send weird faces, snaps and selfies to our friends circle. But to achieve this expanse of users among adults is definitely a challenge!

On the dimmer side of my Snapchat research, I was surprised to find that at the beginning when Snapchat was released, there were people who used this as a mode of sexting. Yes, you read it right. I was surprised and shocked too. As a Snapchat user myself and my other college friends, Snapchat has always and will always meant as a fun and creative way of communication but to find this side of this app was indeed quite interesting. It was found that Snapchats feature of 10-second disappearance was one of the reasons why this could have happened. Having said this

there is high concern for privacy issues for Snapchat. The way in which Snapchat implements message destruction is not secure. In practice, there are many ways to save or retrieve s a user's device after their timeout has elapsed. In one class of data exfiltration, recipients can take screenshots of messages as they view them; using the operating system's application-agnostic screenshot capabilities another class of attacks exploits the fact that Snapchat doesn't actually delete from the device messages that have passed their timeout. Instead, it simply renames the files and makes them inaccessible via its user interface. As a result, people with moderate technical expertise can retrieve these files from a device even for destroyed messages.

Another part of my research focused on how there has been an increase in the number of universities using Snapchat as a way of reaching out to students to increase publicity of events and increase school spirit. Colleges have been Instagramming and texting students for a while, but with Snapchat, which is image-based, theyre taking another step in communicating with Generation Y in their own language. And because users have to press and hold a Snapchat image with their fingertips to see it, the engagement is demonstrable. During the study, some of the reporters spoke to six colleges and universities that have started Snapchat accounts within the past six months to woo prospective students, publicize campus events, cheer on athletes and build a sense of community at a large, sprawling school. Sports fans enthusiastically scribble over photos in school colors using their fingertips and reply with snaps of themselves everywhere from dorms to libraries to classrooms. Having said this large influence of Snapchat in University life, I thought would be a great way to interview my friends with respect their experience as a user of this smart phone application. Hence, I interviewed Belinda Chung and Hannah Harris on the impact of Snapchat in

their social lives. I decided to film both of them together so I can get a variety and good response from each side. Both Belinda and Hannah agree that Snapchat has influenced and dominated their Social Media experience, however they think they do find a small set of their friend circle that do not use the app. Both believe that it has been easier to keep in touch with friends from back home and in college. Moreover Belinda comments that, Snapchat is definitely more creative because of free hand tools and techniques, but at the same time each form of social media has its own sense of creativity. Hannah on the other hand says, It really depends on what type of person you are. As a person Im not really creative, so I dont use the paint art usually but I do receive a significantly large amount of creative snaps When asked if they would like if their University had a Snapchat account, both of them agree that it will definitely be a good try to experiment with it since it can create more togetherness within the school and can be a more personalized form of publicizing events. However, at the same time, they thought the audience for that would just represent Snapchat users and ignore the other the ones who dont use it.

In contrast to Belinda and Hannahs interview, I also interviewed two other subjects; one who stated that she started using the app recently (Kim) while the other (Celeste) never used the app. Both of them thought it was just another app, which is a source of distraction. However, Kim, who recently started using the app says; Well I think I fell for peer pressure. My friends convinced me to get this app and I sometimes felt that I was missing out on some form of entertainment. Hence, I started using the app last month. She added, Maybe I do spend more time on it now. But Im glad I am using it. Its just different and unique for me! Celeste however argues that, I was never really interested in it from high school since I thought it began as

popular mode of sexting and then I just never bothered to use the application.

Both the interviews provide a reflective perspective and more realistic view on what they think about Snapchat. To add more insight into what exactly is Snapchat, the website provides a glimpse of creative Snap chats as an artifact. Ive chosen the most diverse and entertaining snaps that will allow non-snapchat users to see what these snaps might look like.

In short, technology created a culture that values popular opinion over critical thought. We have allowed ourselves to believe that more information equals more knowledge. Every time we express ourselves, we do so with the understanding that things we say might become permanently and publicly known. We are encouraged to express ourselves in ways that are accepted by the largest possible audience and I believe Snapchat has changed the platform for this expression.