Is Flirting the Last Frontier of Snapchat?

What the hell else do people use it for?

10.26.16
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I had been seeing this guy. He’s gone now so it’s fine to talk about him. He was a texter and I’m just not, but we found common ground in Snapchat. We used it to punctuate our workdays; little brief interludes of insignificant I’m thinking of you’s that disappeared and didn’t necessitate an immediate response, which therefore meant way less pressure. We were flirting, and it was like passing notes in high school: embarrassing if caught, fun, innocent.

Snapchat and I have/had been on a rollercoaster of emotions together prior, during and after. I didn’t get the point. Then I thought the only point was for naked photos. Later I realized you could draw all over it and was on board (with the drawing, not so much the nudes; that requires too much choreography). Then it became yet another “thing” to keep up with and respond to and watch, so it overwhelmed me. Then I deleted it. Heard a rumor of these cool filter things, played around with it for a bit, deleted it. Got it back once for work. Got it back for said guy.

When he and I went our separate ways, so did Snapchat and I. My thinking was like, Well, I don’t need to flirt with my friends so, bye. 

Such a volatile relationship!

In a recent Man Repeller pitch meeting, our social media editor, Harling, asked if flirting was the final frontier of Snapchat.

“What do you mean,” I asked?

She’d been talking with her friends about this, that when it first came out, everyone just used it for sexting. Then it became a way to stay in touch with friends. Then one could consume actual media on it, follow celebrities, text — everything. What happened next is obvious. Instagram rolled out Stories, and everyone with voyeuristic tendencies headed back on over to IG.

“But Snapchat still has something that Instagram does not,” she said. “The disappearing act.” It’s why she thinks Snapchat has reverted back the app’s original use: flirting.

Could it be? I thought about my own erratic behavior with the app and admit that I do tend to re-download it when I’m “seeing someone” because of all the reasons stated above. This summer, same thing: had a fling, had the app. (I know, I KNOW, but me with a mustache is a cute and easy way to say hi!!!)

So I started asking everyone I know: “Do you use Snapchat to flirt?”

The answers varied from “I don’t have Snapchat anymore” to “I just watch other people’s stories” to “flirt, no, sext, yes.” However, the most overwhelming response (take this with a grain of whatever bougie salt they’re serving at your cold-brewed watering hole because this survey was conducted informally) was that people just used it to send “ugly selfies to friends.”

That’s right. Mass verbatim. So many people said this that I began to feel like relationships of mine that I previously thought of as uniquely strong due to our mutual respect for pimple-cream triple chins were not all that unique. Everyone was doing the “haha I’m a gross toad” thing to their nearest and dearests. Friendship flirting?

According to Snapchat, “more than 60% of U.S. 13 – 35 year-old smartphone users are Snapchatters. Over 80% of Snapchat users in the U.S. are 13 to 34 year-olds, more than 50% of daily new users in the U.S. are 25+ year-olds, and the U.S. Snapchat audience is approximately 50% female, 50% male.”

Just thought you could use some real stats up in here.

These numbers tell me that Snapchat isn’t just for “the kids,” which, during this little dating break of mine, I’ve been thinking. But it was my own findings that I found most reassuring. If people really are using Snapchat as they told me — to connect with friends through good natured, self-deprecating humor — then that says a lot of about this app’s potential staying power. And in some weird way, about humanity? It’s always heartening to know that sex may sell, but friendship and acne prevails.

Collage by Emily Zirimis.

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