by Ayesha Nasir
ISLAMABAD – “It’s November 5th and the sun is still shining bright,” reported Adeeqa Lalwani smiling into the camera. “Welcome to Karachi.” There was no gunpowder nor any vendetta; Snapchat had unmasked Pakistan’s most populated city by documenting stories shot by its residents.
In what are known as Live Stories, Snapchat curates a stream of user generated and submitted images or videos. Termed by the Time magazine as “the company’s most unusual and compelling feature”, users are eligible to participate if they are located in the area and have allowed apps to access their device’s Location. The app’s support team clarifies that once a story is eligible, “it may be published and viewable by anyone.”
Through geographically determined content, Snapchat hopes to generate stories “told from a community perspective with lots of different points view.”
“I was super excited to have Karachi become a part of the city stories and have people around the world see us!” said Adeeqa Lalwani, a journalism student whose story was seen 4.18 million times. ” It was my celeb moment, yeah? I just wanted to be natural and show the routine we all follow in Karachi!”
Snapchat made the announcement a day earlier but the city of lights went live well into the afternoon.
There were concerns voiced about mobile snatching as well.
“I am glad I was mad enough to drag my friend out of the house and go do a story,” said Eisha Salim, a media strategist whose Snapstory was one of the few which got selected. “The coastline is the main and possibly the biggest attraction of the city of Karachi. That is what my story focused on,” she said.
She deemed the effort worthwhile.
“Intiatives like these matter,” stated Salim who agrees that Snapchat can “help in breaking stereotypes and preconceived notions built around things.”
“Now the world knows what being a Karachite really is!” she said.
The quickly changing and developing story was paced to leave one breathless. Citizens were filmed crammed in a banned QINQI, sipping chai at dhabas, playing cricket on a rooftop, applying mehndi, cutting ribbons, making coconut oil, riding camels on the shore, and praying at the local masjid.
“I think it was good, despite the short length they had,” said Mushba Said a first-year communications major at Habib University. “It’s nice to see the good side of my city, but I wish we could see more.”
“I am not too surprised we mostly get the optimistic side of things,” said Scott Campbell, a professor at University of Michigan speaking about Snapchat as a “feel good” social media platform. “Not all of reality is captured and shared, and in that sense highly important aspects are left out of the picture (or video).”
Although Snapchat is coded with a self-destructive understanding about content being fleeting and temporary, the sort of crowdsourcing it has engaged is sure to have a lasting impression.
Karachi’s live story was preceded by Seoul, South Korea and followed by Hyderabad, India.