I’ve never used SnapChat (for obvious reasons), and today’s column in The Wall Street Journal, Farhood Manjoo explains why the rest of us shouldn’t be bullish about SnapChat’s popularity with the teenagers:
For tech execs, youngsters are the canaries in the gold mine.
That logic follows a widely shared cultural belief: We all tend to assume that young people are on the technological vanguard, that they’ve somehow got an inside scoop on what’s next. If today’s kids are Snapchatting instead of Facebooking, the thinking goes, tomorrow we’ll all be Snapchatting, too, because tech habits, like hairstyles, flow only one way: young to old.
There is only one problem with elevating young people’s tastes this way: Kids are often wrong. There is little evidence to support the idea that the youth have any closer insight on the future than the rest of us do. Sometimes they are first to flock to technologies that turn out to be huge; other times, the young pick products and services that go nowhere. They can even be late adopters, embracing innovations that older people understood first. To butcher another song: The kids could be all wrong.
Spot on, I think. But then again, give it a year or two and see what happens.