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Grandpa’s Snapchat Christmas: A Story Of A Modern Spread Out Family


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I'm not a big believer in Snapchat, but this is a fascinating although completely nontypical story of how an elderly man uses it to keep strong ties to his family.

This article is trying to make the case that Snapchat is easier than taking a picture and texting it...

With its super-simple interface, open-whenever messaging, and emphasis on visuals over text, Snapchat turned out to be the ideal solution to Bob’s stringent communication needs.

...which I personally find not to be the case.

The Snapchat Grandpa therefore is an anomaly, an outlier designed to make people think Snapchat has more usage than we think.

Ha, the article also flat out says the only thing Snapchat is useful for.

Party pictures are basically the only thing my friends use Snapchat for.

TEXTING. His use case is texting. He thinks he's Snapchatting, but he's texting.

It’s not much of an exaggeration: between "good mornings," midday check-ins, and "good nights" to his grandkids, Bob estimated he sends at least 40 snaps each day. "That’s what’s great about Snapchat, see? It’s ding-ding-ding." Across the table, Jean elaborates. "You can’t call the kids in the morning, you know? They’re getting ready [for school, work, etc.], they’re busy. With this, they don’t have to pick up right at that time."

That’s generally true. Snapchat is asynchronous—a snap can be opened minutes, hours, or even days after it is sent. But Bob’s snaps have a shelf life. "He gets after us if we don’t open them fast enough," Ryan told me. Bob will even go so far as to punitively cut off those who neglect his snaps. Jessica, another of Bob’s grandchildren who was at brunch the day I visited, had suffered just such a fate for failing to view and respond swiftly enough. "It’s my birthday this week, Grandpa!" she said, lobbying for reinstatement. He smiled like a Cheshire cat and glanced around the table, gently gloating at his upper hand.

"I think more old people should use it," Bob kept saying throughout the meal. "People who are stuck at home… they should tell you about [Snapchat] when you’re down at the Verizon." Bob is still able to drive, but many of his peers are housebound, and he’s familiar with the challenges of isolation.

I suggested he should teach a class for 65+ folks on how to use 2014’s hottest app for teenagers. He shrugged noncommittally. "Those guys down at the [Elk’s] Lodge," where Bob congregates with other same-aged members, "they’re men. They’re not interested. But when I talk to women about it, [framing it] as a way to keep in touch with your grandchildren, they love it."

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