Why Savvy Teens Are Hooked on the Voting App Wishbone
4.3 million teens use the app every day to make the simplest of decisions. But, which is the "right" choice?
Gucci or Prada? Kanye or Taylor? Bernie or Hillary? When it comes to culture, we’re often asked to pick a side. Enter Wishbone.
Every morning, users of the app are given 12 pop culture-based questions with two distinct choices, which range from “Modern or Vintage?” to “Would you rather have a rap battle with Nas or Slim Shady?” Once you make your pick, you can see the percentages of people who voted for each option. If you make a choice for all of them, then you get 12 new ones at night.
It’s that simple conceit that has propelled Wishbone to a stratospheric fan base - 4.3 million registered users and counting - even as it’s flown under the radar for anyone who’s not between the ages of 13 and 18, which makes up 80 percent of its audience. (Snapchat, by comparison, has 100 million daily users.)
Mike Jones, the former Myspace chief executive who founded the app in 2014, said Gen Z is hooked because not only are they always on their phones, but they’ve also grown up in a Like button-driven world where they’re encouraged to share their opinions publicly.
“Teens, especially from 14-19 years old, live on their phones – constantly checking Snapchat and Instagram, looking for ways to share what they are doing and what they are feeling,” he said. “Our goal was to create a destination where teens can be the content creators, the stars, and the arbiters of taste.”
He added that teens also enjoy using the app because the stakes are lower when it comes to how they engage — it’s not about getting the most likes or comments. “We hear from users constantly that using Wishbone makes them feel good,” he said. “There isn’t same angst as publishing something on social media, where you might be constantly refreshing for likes and faves.”
My middle school sources, however, said otherwise.
One 13-year-old told me she hand her friends spend hours debating Wishbone choices during recess and after school. “It’s actually the most socially stressful thing ever,” she said via text message. Because she can see what her friends are voting, she felt pressure to choose the “right” answer, saying that some kids will choose the opposite of what their friends like as an act of “vengeance.” Ah, middle school drama.
With over 80 million engagements a day, teens are clearly choosing to use the app — no matter how it makes them feel. “Wishbone is a destination for teens who are tired of seeing perfect lives portrayed on social media, and would prefer to see how their community feels about the topics they care about,” Jones said. And with this, we can all agree.
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