[Cross-posted from our Tumblr]
When living the digital life, one should remain keenly aware of the “permanent” and “public” nature of their actions. For the curatorial-ly inclined, this fact permeates their every social media move as they sculpt an online presence. Admittedly one of those people, my affectation is to look as if I couldn’t care less about my online self even though I remain calculated. That is until the beautiful, fleeting, pointless Snapchat came into my life and liberated me.
Snapchat allows users to send pictures or videos to people in their phone’s address book, a la regular SMS, but the catch is that the picture/video only lasts for a matter of seconds before disappearing into the ether.*
Initially I was uninterested in the app coined as the “safe sexting app for teens”; I couldn’t see any reason why I would use this service. All of that changed once friends living far away became privy to the application and sent me an invitation.
First and foremost, impermanence is what makes Snapchat great. In a sort of McLuhanian the “medium is the message” way, Snapchat allows users to be as boring or silly as they’d like. I watch friends living in California walk to lunch, dance at a bar, even get ready for bed! I in turn send copious amounts of videos of my roommate’s cat, sunsets, and strange people on the subway. Because the picture or the video doesn’t last more than 10 seconds you’re essentially telling the viewer that what you’re sending is of no importance, enabling you to send the more pointless moments that make up your day to day.
Unlike a Vine or an Instagrammed image that you’re “presenting” to all your “followers,” Snapchat is analogous to the note jotted on the napkin and inevitably run through the wash, gone forever. Snapchat is a less deliberate, more spontaneous, and I would argue, truer digital representation of oneself.
Lastly, when I get a Snapchat of my best friend making coffee in the morning I feel like I’m getting my caffeine fix with her. Because the image/video doesn’t last, it can’t be revisited over and over in turn, most closely representing real life. The lesson Snapchat teaches us is “nothing gold stays” and speaking of gold, what I wouldn’t GIVE to see Snapchat’s database… Imagine…
*and by ether, I mean Snapchat's DB and, er, the recipient's received_image_snaps directory.