The Weird Relationship Between Zimbabwe And SnapChat

Social media apps catch on—sometimes, either we have a entirely utilitarian relationship with them or their learning curve is just too steep, kind of a love-hate relationship that bears its burden on us (cue Twitter).

Snapchat is an app that I would love to use, and somehow share it with others but end up steering clear of recommending it to anyone.

I’m guessing a lot of people that may have heard of Snapchat may have even tried it out for a test run — shrugged it off, and bailed because it costs an arm and leg to use it on a paltry, slow and expensive internet connection.

To the uninitiated, it's an app with a quirky interface that merely communicates with photos (and short videos). It’s more of an instant photo app than anything and the catch is your photos don’t even last that long.

It’s intermittent. Snap. Share. Delete.

Low Res Is Intimate

Taking your old photos or videos from way back and playing them again is nostalgic. It’s great. You get that hit of nostalgia that sort of a cues those moments, calling you to ponder on how far you came to be where you are today. A part of it lends a bit of credence to the low resolution of the film/photo/video and there is actually a study on this, here’s a citation.

Snapchat has that same in-the-moment feel that couples with that exact same factor that favors intimacy — a crappy front facing camera, and I'm guessing that is sort of the draw with Snapchat’s user base.

To hit that point home, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel posted a video on the company’s YouTube channel with the same low res video.

In the video, he sort of explained the whole idea behind Snapchat, why it exists and why the people that use it love it so much. He explained how social networks moved from being desktop experiences to mobile, how these experiences no longer meant accumulating photos and data but rather passing moments.

It will take a lot for Snapchat to be widely embraced by Zimbabweans. Tweet

It’s weird, in a way. And it really is a hard thing to explain to someone who is not always comfortable with sharing photos and the ilk.

Why Zimbabwe?

For one, data is expensive and that even goes without saying. Snapchat can’t release a dumbed down version that consumes less data, a la Facebook, because the app itself uses low res images. That means, already, it can do more than hold its own as it is.

On the other hand, Snapchat takes a whole new approach in sharing and being social. No, not because it's hard to find friends (you can add your contacts WhatsApp-style), but because taking photos of yourself creates some kind of anxiety.

Not everyone is comfortable doing so, not to mention it can also be a cringeworthy experience at worst.
Saying this doesn’t mean there aren’t people that use the service and love it so dearly — far from it.

It’s just that for Snapchat to actually make a dent and really be embraced by Zimbabweans, it will take a lot. Sadly, it may never be as big as Facebook or WhatsApp locally.

Cover Image by Zac Chapepa | Originally Published on Medium

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