The Life of Snapchat: A Media Narrative

Narrative Media

      Philosophers have always contemplated the nature of the world we live in, begging the question what is to become of us? One thing Aristotle and Socrates forgot to mention, was the influence media power would have on the 20th century. One thing is certain however; we live to exist, and we exist to evolve. Within the evolving function of our human nature, comes social reproduction and the power that it coincides. In our case, the day and age with live in is influenced by the media and the undeniable power it possesses inevitably shapes power structures and influences ways in which individuals interact and identify themselves through means of ideology. Social media outlets are fundamental to the structuring of how individuals operate within society, and it is through those channels that power is exercised and conceptualized. In the article, Paradigms of Media Power, Des Freedman argued that, media power is  both a consequence of and, increasingly, a precondition for continuing, and stratified, processes of social reproduction. This brings me to the evolution of social media outlet, Snapchat. Snapchat is a constantly updated multi-platform that features relevant societal resources applicable to the masses. Most recently, presidential candidate filters are accessible, as well as featured discover channel’s that offer multi-platform stories significant to current events and trends, and in this case the 2016 Presidential Election.

Why Snapchat?

      Media power is best exemplified through Snapchat not for its celebrity, high following and privacy abilities that target those “coming of age” such as millennials, but rather because it, encompasses as Des Freedman puts it in the article, Paradigms of Media Power,

“The allocation of the symbolic resources necessary to structure our knowledge about, and by extension our capacity to intervene in, the world around us.”

We, victims of the system in a free market society, are nevertheless consumers that volunteer to succumb to these resources that further our ability to indulge in the world we live in. The app Snapchat launched in 2011, quickly became known for its image sharing that allows senders to take a photo referred to as “snaps” that disappear after a short 10 seconds. Who doesn’t love the default limitedness of an app that allows you to take an in-the moment photo of your drunk friend doing something embarrassing that inevitably disappears after a few seconds? Not to mention, the drunk friend who’s too busy pelvic thrusting the air, will never know about the snap taken. It’s through tactics such as this, that develop power flows through the innovativeness that allows users to be creative in the process of revolutionizing social reproduction, besides it’s funny too, and humor is powerful.

The Life of Snapchat

      Snapchat didn’t always have the cliche dog filter that arguably, almost every girl feels the need to Snapchat herself in. No, before black and white filters, fast forward, rewind, geotags, featured discover channel’s, live feeds of music festivals like Coachella and legendary cultural events such as the 2016 World Series game, before “Snapchat famous” was a thing, and before following celebrities that philosophize major “key life concepts” (pun intended) for success, was even possible. Before Snapchat was mainstream, there was only photos that lasted no longer than 10 seconds, unless of course, you screenshotted it, but they don’t want you to know that. According to Jenny Karson in the article, 21 phases of the evolution of Snapchat, December 2012 was the launch of the video feature that we all know and love. This was the first time viewers experienced the 10 second video snaps that captured anything from an epic Bob Dylan concert to scaring your friend who’s taking a dump in the stall next to you. The next phase is “best friends.” This feature enabled the ability to view who other people were snapping, cool right? Except of course, when your crazy girlfriend goes ape shit over who you’ve been sending pictures to. The next phase was the art phase that came out in January of 2013, where users could show off their avant-garde techniques by drawing on the snaps they sent. By February of 2013, snapchatters were sending over 60 million snaps per day. Founder, Brennan Smith, of makes customized geotags for snapchat, creating roughly 20 geotags for customers every week. In a recent interview with Smith, I asked “What is the biggest event you’ve created a geotag for?”. Smith said, “The biggest event he’s done was for American Airlines and DJ Khaled. Keep in mind, Brennan Smith is a 2015 ASU graduate and because of the up-roaring growth within the Snapchat realm, his company has blossomed quite well. In the interview with Smith, I asked, “ Do you think that this is a business that will continue to grow or do you think it’s just a trend?” Smith responded with, “It’s hard to tell due to the ever changing technology marketing but I see the trend lasting for years to come as a cool personalization for any given event.” And he’s right! Trends come and go, but Snapchats life is still young, and there’s room to grow. Speaking of growing, it wasn’t until October of 2013 that the the launch of stories came out.

The Feature That Changed It All

      This feature allowed for snap users to create a compilation of videos/ pictures viewable for 24 hours, leaving the snap world forever changed. This foutput_Q7exgR.giform of media a power was groundbreaking within the Snapchat arena, for it paved a new sense of “Fomo” (fear of missing out) for many users, while simultaneously giving users a glimpse of what fellow snappers were experiencing in their day to day life. This feature gives the option for viewing stories of those you like or dislike, but let’s be honest– we watch it either way. Salty, cause your best friends in the Caribbean? Well, now you can see how awesome their vacation is! Or, you can scoff at it in jealousy, either way it’s accessible for viewing. Essentially, a new sense of media power instills itself in the Snapchat sphere through competition in the attempt of what users deem snaps to be, “Snapchat worthy.” In effect, this form of social media imposes a subconscious influence over users desires to experience new and interesting things due to how mutual snapchatters depict their lives. Subsequently, this transforms social reproduction. In the article, Social Media and Communication Power, Christian Fuchs discusses Anthony Giddens definition of power as “transformative capacity” essentially classifying power as a general concept that, “declares the capacity of humans to act, and thereby transform society.”



      The phase following “stories” is the replay option that launched in December of 2013. This feature gives the option for snaps to be replayed in the event that perhaps volumes were off and you really wanted to hear that Bob Dylan song your friend snapped you. In May of the following year, was the launch of Snapchat’s legitimate chat feature. Users are now able to chat with friends strictly without photos or videos, and yes the chat does go away. Now your crazy girlfriend will never know you’re calling her crazy. The evolving of Snapchat proceeds further in July of 2014 with the launch of geo-filters, that provide filters based on location service. Yes, that means your friend who you so badly wish was you in the Caribbean, is actually there because the filter explicitly states it.  To dive even further, the platform expands to a wider audience in the August 2014 launch of  the “Live” section, enabling people to view events that users send snaps to that are then displayed as stories. In October of 2014, the launch of advertisements plants itself in the Snapchat world. Consequently, this confirms the uproaring media power influence that Snapchat instills within the US establishment, through means of propagandahttp-mashable-com-wp-content-uploads-2015-01-snapchat-discover . In the perspective of Herman and Chomsky in the article, Media Subservience and Satirical Subversiveness: The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Propaganda Model and the Paradox of Parody, by James Anderson and Amie Kincaid, they state that “Among other functions the media serve and propagandize on behalf of the powerful societal interests that control and finance them.” To support this, The Propaganda Model examines ways in which Snapchat is propagandized through means of “Corporate concentration and profit orientation” in its“ Advertising as the major source of revenue”.

The Evolution Continues

      Who needs Venmo? In November of 2014 Snapchat launches “Snapcash”, a feature that provides the ability to send and receive cash via Snapchat. In November of 2014, Snap users were able to view sponsored stories of events on a global level, leading to the Discover Channel, launched in January of 2015, with content ranging from People Magazine, Cosmopolitan, ESPN, Buzzfeed, and CNN to name a few. In an interview with Morgan Reynolds, a Buzzfeed actor who’s done

several couples videos for Buzzfeed, I asked, “What do you like about Buzzfeed?” The actor responded, “ The thing I like most about Buzzfeed is that it encourages and empowers all types of people. Buzzfeed constantly searches out groups that feel unspoken for and I love that. It also has a way of bringing an image or a video to a thought you’ve had before so you don’t feel so alone. I love the joy that it brings to people and the randomness.” While pondering Buzzfeed’s relation to Snapchat, I asked Reynolds, “ Buzzfeed serves as one of Snapchat’s discover channels. Do you think there’s a correlating property between Snapchat and buzzfeed?” Reynolds responded saying, “ As far as Buzzfeed and Snapchat goes I think that they have a lot in common. I think that both want to contribute to the conversation and both benefit greatly when paired together. Snapchat and Buzzfeed bring the masses together. It’s crazy how much power each company has, and when they are put together they have even more power. I think a lot more good can be contributed to both of them. Both companies have dramatically changed our lives. I can’t imagine being a 16-year-old in today’s social media world.” Morgan Reynolds, age 23 has seen and experienced the power within Buzzfeed and through close examination has associated its relevance to Snapchat in terms of how powerful platforms can attach to other powerful platforms, only to increase the power flow distributed within the media stream. It’s no wonder Snapchat has teamed up with Buzzfeed as one of its top discover channels, because they both serve as relevant outlets for propaganda, and pop culture for not only millennials, but the entire world at large. After all, in the words of Jim Morrison, “ Whoever controls the media, controls the mind” and in this case, Snapchat is doing exactly that.


      In July of 2015, Snapchat continues to be innovative with filters that provide temperature, time, and emoji amenities for snap aesthetics.  By September of 2015, Snapchat offers face-altering filters, because why the hell not? Ever been curious of what the wrinkly old version of yourself looks like? Well Snapchat was, and it continues to evolve these filters to keep up with trends. And let’s not forget every las’s favorite overplayed dog filter, or what I like to call it, the filter that’s overstayed its welcome.

Current Events That We Can’t Escape

      Not only does Snapchat continue to evolve, it is undeniably innovative. Filters provided within the app have stayed true to current events. With recent filters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, political and cultural influence dominates the playing field in terms of what society deems credible. With the recent 2016 Presidential election, brand partnerships have remained worthy throughout the duration by streaming updated information to discover channels provided. Snapchat has managed to reach an audience of 7 billion views each day, thus matching competition with Facebook, and according to Gary Vaynerchuk in the article, The Snap Generation: A Guide to Snapchat’s History, on it is regarded as the “fastest growing social networks for millennials.” The Snapchat platform is an all encompassing social media outlet, and while it continues to grow, the power it fosters parallels that growth.


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