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Is Snapchat just another reality TV show?

A few years ago, Snapchat was all about naked pictures. Or any sort of picture that you didn’t want someone to be able to keep. And no, before you assume I only know that because I was sending racy pics, I assure you (and my husband!) I was not.

But one of my single-and-dating friends was. It allowed them to send a picture and have it only show up for a few seconds. A great alternative to texting it and letting someone look as often as they wanted (and then send it on to god knows who). Good on them, I say. To each their own, and all that.

Maybe the app is still used for that. I’m now an ‘old married woman’ with two kids, so I wouldn’t know. However, I have noticed that now Snapchat has become the social medium of choice for social media-savvy superstars. If they’re big on Instagram or Facebook, chances are they’re now on Snapchat as well. Many of them claim it’s the way they show that they’re “real and raw”, either via pictures or (the more popular option) video.

Well, I call bullshit. Correction, I CALLED bullshit.

At first I didn’t get it. Just another social platform for us to all passively scroll through and waste our spare time with, right? What are all these people who are huge on Snapchat showing there that they don’t show on other apps?

I have an Instagram account for my mummy blog. It’s got a good following (I think so anyway). Many of my fellow mummy bloggers are embracing Snapchat whereas I’ve avoided it for a while, mainly because I don’t feel the need to add another thing to my to-do list. And I just don’t want to be stuck behind my phone taking a video of my child for Snapchat rather than just enjoying the moment with them.

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Nonetheless, I was intrigued. So, as an experiment, I went on there this weekend and followed a few of them. What did I find? The first ‘snap’ I watched was a mum sharing what her morning looked like (a lot like mine – a child that refused to eat his breakfast, mess all over the house, a hurried shower for mum…). Wow, breaking news. NOT. HOW BLOODY BORING, I concluded. I don’t really give a shit how you make your morning green smoothies that bit more delicious, what you’re doing today, or what your child wears to the mall.

But then, I got kinda addicted. Ok, a lot addicted. Before I knew it I realised I’d been clicking from one snap to another for a good half an hour. I was getting a glimpse into the lives of these people via video, which I found a lot more engaging than the picture on Instagram. I saw that even though they might have half a million followers and be getting deals with big brands that meant they posted pretty pictures, they were still struggling with everyday mum life just like me. It was kinda cool. And then it occurred to me. It was just like my (secret) addiction to Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Snapchat is just like reality TV shows. It’s an insight into someone’s day to day life…and we all love it.

The thing is, we humans are a nosey and voyeuristic bunch. We’re sticky beaks and LOVE to know the dirt on other people’s lives. While we might not admit publicly to watching a show like ‘Married at First Sight’, secretly we love to hate reality TV.

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In 2015 TV viewers had endure more than 1500 hours of local reality programming.

The creators of Snapchat say the app has over 100 million active users and is apparently the best way to reach 13-34 year olds. Technically I’m just out of that age bracket so maybe it’s not for me haha. But it provides a personal window into your and your friends’ worlds. Stories are updated in real time and expire in 24 hours.

Snaps are a look at how you are in that particular moment, whereas other apps like Instagram mean you are creating and curating a lasting persona. For instance, some people like their Instagram to have a certain ‘look and feel’.

These big Snapchatters have a huge audience, who are all engaged and passionate. It has been suggested that Snapchat offers something unique in the world of mass media – intimacy at scale.

If you want to get technical, the fact that Snapchat plays videos vertically not horizontally, and automatically with sound (as opposed to Facebook or You Tube), could mean it’s better for advertising and engagement purposes.

So will I be embracing this as a new way of connecting with fellow mums? I don’t really know. I’ll keep pondering it…while I devour my pretty yummy homemade green smoothie that I may have just made after re-watching that snap ;)

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