After I packed my car and moved from the small town of Bartonville, IL to Seattle (almost six years ago), I started feeling like I was missing the special moments with my family back home.
Especially watching my only niece grow up.
Taylor was eight years old then. Obviously, we never had time to get close before I left, and for the last six years I’ve missed pretty much every major event in her life.
Three months ago, I decided to take a random trip back home with the sole purpose of spending time with my family.
One night, while sitting at my mom’s new house playing guitar around the kitchen table, Taylor told me I had to download Snapchat. Within 30 minutes, we sent 10 Snapchats to some of her friends. It was fun and silly. I got it though, and told her to send me some Snapchat messages sometime but didn’t think too much about it.
We’ve sent at least one message to each other every day since.
In three months, I’ve gotten to see her at a high school dance, turn 16 and just hang out with her friends when they’re acting fun and silly. Turns out, we are all fun and silly with the right people.
We’re just being ourselves.
Not the rosy, everything is great brag networks like Facebook, Instagram, Path or Twitter.
No, it’s the ”I’m tired as hell and still in bed” or the ”I’m just getting ready for school” photo. We send silly photos, write funny messages to each other and sometimes draw hilarious hairdos on our pictures.
We’re closer and I have a better life because of it.
This isn’t just about Snapchat. It’s any platform which enables a truly private and safe experience to be ourselves.
People don’t act like themselves on other social networks, but I believe the best social products should mimic how we really behave offline.
Here’s why I think it works:
1. It’s fast
When you open the app, the camera is open and ready to go. Snap, add a message and send. It’s literally faster than sending an iMessage. The idea of creating content before you choose the recipients is interesting as well.
2. A face is worth a thousand words
A message with a face is so different than a text message. It’s like we’re talking face to face because it carries an emotion. Snapchat is to Skype as the text message was to the phone call. Asynchronous, which is key.
3. It goes away
The simple fact that this will not be around forever on the internet makes my entire experience more honest. And honest communication is how better relationships are formed. It’s the most honest form of communication on the internet.
When I was back home 3 months ago, my relationship with Taylor was comprised of awkward hugs to Uncle Shane at family holiday parties. Next time I head home, we’re going to throw high fives, run around the yard, hang out all day and have so much to catch up on. She’s now my friend, not just my niece.
I can truly say I look forward to opening Snapchat every day. Here’s the Snapchat I woke up to this morning. It makes me smile, yooo.
And P.S., we’ve never sent a text message.