I’ve spent a good two to three years in the knowledge that Snapchat is a thing that more and more people are doing every single day. And I’d chosen, for what seemed like good reasons then, to stay away from this… thing. But I recently admitted to myself, rather reluctantly, that it’s probably here to stay. I knew needed to either jump on board this millennial train, or to officially embrace the old-people life.
And this is the story of how that damn jump went. Spoiler alert: I’ve officially embraced the old-people life.
When I’d first heard of Snapchat, my primary question was, ‘What does it do that other apps don’t?’
Fair question, right? Can I send pictures to people using other apps? Yes. Can I add text and cute, albeit unnecessary, graphics to the pictures in the other apps? Indeed. Was I particularly concerned with whether the picture would vanish from the recipient’s possession in a matter of seconds? Not really. Not for my variety of pictures, for sure.
Then why, in the name of all that is holy, do I need Snapchat? What about this app, is making half the world’s smartphone-wielding population lose their absolute apeshit? What harm could it do to find out, I thought. Little did I know.
Snapchat-ing, in essence, is like taking a Polaroid picture, passing it around among your friends, laughing at how silly you look and how much fun you’re having in that moment, and then leaving them behind. And that’s not something a lot of us have done very much.
I like to think the principle reason humanity has taken to Snapchat is because of the impermanence of the content created. Users don’t obsess over taking the perfect picture, using the perfect filter, and/or make it aesthetically perfect as they do on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. The existence of snaps has made putting out the fleeting, weird and silly and real parts of you online for an audience, accessible to everyone.
And as fun and appealing as it sounds, there is a certain section of society – including yours truly – that is still figuring out the idea of exchanging media we don’t intend to save for later. Like, seriously. What do I even want to put on this photo/video that’ll disappear in a bit?
The more practical reason for its popularity – and the real reason why most old chumps like me struggle with it – is that Snapchat’s interface is millennial-intuitive.
Snapchat, from my very limited experience, is the gold standard of intuitive technology. Creating fun content here is instinctive and user-friendly… IF the user is tech-friendly. Does that make sense? It kind of makes me feel like my mom when she opened any web page and started reading at the top right corner, and I had to tell her that the relevant stuff was not always going to be at the top and what she needed was to look at a website differently from how she looked at a magazine or book.
So, even as I continue my relentless journey to ‘get with the times’, Snapchat has certainly made me painfully aware of how newer, cooler technology and I are going to interact, as I grow older and lazier and grumpier.