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Could Snapchat Change the Way We Use Social Media?

Snapchat published a fascinating blog post on their site last week, written by their new researcher, Nathan Jurgenson.

In it, Jurgenson examined how we've built a “particular, and peculiar, orientation to time: an assumed inevitability of recording most everything forever”.

This documentary vision has created a nostalgia for the present, which manifests itself in the popularity of Instragram and faux-vintage photographs of the now.

Jurgenson envisages that the rise of temporary social media apps like Snapchat could create an anti-nostalgia, which frees us to forget.

This could also change the way we look at photos and documents: knowing it will disappear demands we pay more attention. As Jurgenson says: “Permanent social media fixates on the details of a photo, whereas temporary social media fixates on what it meant and what it moved within you.”

A more temporary social media could also change the way we use these networks. Instead of carefully considering how each post could impact us one day, we’re more likely to freely share our opinions and photos that we might chose to withhold at present.

Authenticity is an in-vogue concept in marketing, meaning everything from ‘real’ to ‘transparent’ to ‘honest’ to ‘conversational’. The New Inquiry editor Rob Horning has suggested it really means little more than “know your place and stay there.” Creative and media industries in particular demand we demonstrate we've always been interested in the job we’re applying for. Our online profile must corroborate our story.

We now need to not only need have studied something relevant, joined the right clubs and completed internships in what we want to do, but have blogged and tweeted about it too. A more temporary social media presence could free us from the need to build a back-story and enable our 'online personas' to be as fluid as we really are. In the process, the misguided distinction drawn between the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’ world will hopefully become moot.

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