With the creation of Snapchat stories, it seemed only a matter of time before Snapchat introduced a news feature, so as to compete with news apps and Facebook. However, I think Snapchat’s news feature has many pitfalls.
Snapchat assumes that the only news people want to read these days is gossip columns about celebrities and their latest skimpy outfit they wore on vacation before getting back together with their on-off boyfriend. And to an extent they are right – nearly all of us are guilty of having a bizarrely high level of knowledge on the Kardashian klan. But I do find it rather depressing that day-in, day-out the Snapchat news melts into one big celeb fest with no real substance behind any of the articles posted (the news today on Snapchat includes the headlines: Bieber’s been caught RED handed! and 10 Completely Confusing Jelena Moments). Snapchat’s aim was probably to give everyone a break from the horrors of everyday news and to simply showcase lighthearted stories, or, and this is a version I prefer, it’s their way of attempting to make us forget the outside world and be sucked into Snapchat world where everything is always informal and happy so that we don’t quit their app until we have all turned into yellow ghosts (though, I admit, this option does seem perhaps less viable).
Although at the end of the day I can’t blame Snapchat for simply giving everyone what they want to read and see. They may be perpetuating the trashy celeb culture that has taken over our generation and brainwashed most of us, but who can blame them when it’s really just a smart business move? They’ve taken the news most younger people read nowadays on websites such as Buzzfeed and incorporated it into their app so that people no longer need to go elsewhere to read the latest gossip – a clever thing to do.
So, it seems to me that Snapchat’s decision to share almost exclusively celebrity news is not so much a bad reflection on them, but more on us. Generation Z is the first generation that can name all the celebrities who have gained or lost weight this year, but can’t name their own country’s government policies (obviously this is a complete generalisation, but is true in many cases). In the EU Referendum, only 36% of 18-24 year olds casted a vote, compared with 72% of 35-44 year olds casting theirs. So it seems rather ironic that the most vocal people to complain about Brexit on social media were the young who hadn’t even bothered to cast their vote.
The question still remains: how can we get young people interested and involved in politics and the current goings on of the world? Well for a start, I think Snapchat could begin by introducing some more serious news to its home feed. Subtle integration of more relevant news and facts on Snapchat would normalise politics a bit more and make it less of a foreign, unapproachable area that many think they are incapable of understanding. Other apps could and should also do the same, but I think much of the onus lies with Snapchat due to its sheer popularity. Politics doesn’t even need to be the main focus – just current news of any kind would be preferable to the drivel they are bombarding us with now.
Evan Spiegel over at Snapchat HQ won’t read this article and neither will the team in charge of posting the news to Snapchat, but I hope that telepathically they will come to their senses and realise the mindless culture they are perpetuating.