One of the reasons that The Olds took so long to figure out Snapchat was that Snapchat is ephemeral. A snap is there, and then it’s gone, and that’s the point. It’s the opposite of the art of personal archive building and maintenance, which tends to live on Facebook. But Snapchat just eliminated the requirement that a snap be fleeting: Memories will now allow anyone to use Snapchat like a personal camera roll.
Just two days ago, the Wall Street Journal sounded the alarm to teens everywhere that their parents are starting to figure out how to use Snapchat, an app that, for its younger base of users, has long been delightfully inscrutable to parents and lame older relatives everywhere. With Memories rolling out over the next several weeks, it seems safe to assume that this trend of Snapchat literacy among those older than 35 will speed up.
Everybody please pray for the youth, who, until now, could get away with posting “safer” photos of their lives to Facebook, where Mom and Grandma might see them and feel connected. Soon, their relatives will ask to see vacation snaps, a situation that Snapchat used to promote the feature in its Wednesday announcement video:
Memories, essentially, will become a searchable archive of any snap you choose to save to Snapchat’s servers. The search functionality includes keyword and object recognition technology, the Verge reported, which can find “hundreds” of objects in your saved snaps.
At first glance, it might seem like Snapchat has introduced a feature that is primarily intended as an archiving or preservation tool. But it’s not, unless you’re thinking of an archive that allows people to draw on their collections like a coloring book. In Memories, each saved snap is itself editable, further removing Snapchat from its rigid adherence to the present. You’ll be able to add new geofilters and whatever else to your saved snaps, the Verge explains, even if it has been ages since you were there in the moment the snap was made.
Those saved and edited snaps and stories are also recyclable. They can appear in brand-new stories and messages, designated from “new” snaps as a moment from the past with a little frame around its border and a timestamp. “It’s fun to celebrate an anniversary or birthday by finding a few old Snaps and stringing them together into a new Story :),” Snapchat’s announcement reads.
Snapchat has increasingly stepped into the Internet gap left by a drop in personal sharing on Facebook. On Facebook, users often are aware that their saved Timelines of updates, links and photos could reach a much wider audience than intended. And that, it seems, has prompted a portion of Facebook’s users to keep their most personal updates off the site.
Although Facebook is trying to fix the “context collapse” problem, Snapchat has become a good personal sharing alternative for some. That’s at least in part because of the assurance that those personal messages will reach only their intended recipients and disappear shortly thereafter. That rapid disappearing of the personal is what Snapchat was founded to do, which is why the introduction of Memories today is more than just a new feature. It’s a reworking of the entire point of Snapchat. And, it might serve to remind Snapchat’s users that as fleeting as a Snap might feel, it’s still something you’re putting on the Internet.
Most Snapchat users don’t have the new Memories feature yet. The company said that individual users will receive a Chat message from Snapchat letting them know when it’s live for their account. So it’s too early to be specific about how Memories will change things for users.
But here’s one thing to comfort the teenagers who are despairing over Snapchat’s rebirth: There’s also an option in Memories to save a snap for “My Eyes Only,” meaning that a snap that’s a little too personal won’t accidentally play when you’re showing your memories to someone else. At least there’s that.
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