Over the course of my life, I’ve had many a teacher tell me “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Maybe I haven’t followed that sage wisdom all the way through, but I imagine a certain $18.58 billion company with over 40 million teen and capital-M Millennial users would have benefitted from that advice. Got a guess as to who?
It’s crazy to think that something as innocuous as an update to a social media app can excite so much outrage. But will all that teenage angst lead to tangible change? Debatable. I like to think that the recent update to Snapchat is a cause for solidarity. Just like how we commiserate over excessive homework, sleep deprivation and a never-ending midterm season, the ruination of this quintessential social media app has become a topic even strangers can bond over. In just the past week, I’ve seen people in my dorm who normally have nothing to do with one another turn around and ask, “hey, did you get the update?” So that’s been pretty cool.
There certainly seems to be a wealth of material to complain about. For one, combining stories and snaps on a single page looks clunky and, frankly, kind of uncomfortable. Overcrowded, like Allison at 6 p.m. since Northwestern took Hinman from us. Publishers and celebrities get their own page now, which is great since the missing puzzle piece in my life clearly wasn’t healthier habits or self-care but rather easy access to classy publications like Esquire. I also get to read updates from The New York Times when I’m scrolling through the pile of ads. I’m not sure if the development team was trying to advocate for a sense of civic responsibility among millenials by making news accessible through a social media app or if they just got paid a lot of money in sponsorships, but every time I do hit up that other page, I’m heading straight to my dorm’s group story, “4 Creole Foods You’re Def Pronouncing Wrong” and “Here’s Your Insanely Accurate Horoscope for the Week” be damned. I heard a certain Kardashian even forswearing Snapchat altogether, which alone dropped the company’s stock price by 6 percent and wiped out $1.3 billion of its market value.
sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me... ugh this is so sad.— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) February 21, 2018
Like sharks that have caught a whiff of blood, news outlets everywhere are already heralding the inevitable death of Snapchat. A petition that’s been put up by Change.org has almost 1,250,000 signatures and is growing fast, which is pretty impressive – or depressing, depending on how you’re looking at it. (A petition calling for the Department of Homeland Security to waive the Jones act for cargo inbound to Puerto Rico has about 550,000 supporters.) So what does this tell us about Snapchat’s eventual fate?
Nothing, to be honest. Yes, Snapchat’s stock has dropped 15 percent in less than a month, but it’s not doing particularly bad when you compare it to something like Bitcoin (or my economics grade). People seem to forget that in 2008 Facebook completely overhauled itself, moving from walls to timelines, and faced a similar backlash. The higher-ups at Snapchat certainly don’t seem very concerned: They told CNN, “Updates as big as this one can take a little getting used to, but we hope the community will enjoy it once they settle in,” ostensibly in a cheery corporate tone. There certainly isn’t a consensus among analysts that this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. But the company, I think, knows its base. Like any good consumer of social media, I’ll certainly complain to my friends about poor graphic design or how I have to expend additional effort to scroll through to my stories. But in the end, I’ll still be suckered into keeping my streaks alive. And that’s just what Snapchat’s banking on.