The Lampin' Blog brings you a new series entitled #GrindsMyGears, in which we rant about shit that bothers us. Nev starts us off with his love/hate relationship with ubiquitous social media stalwart, Snapchat. Enjoy.
Snapchat is a beautifully simple and innovative, yet socially corrosive application. Allow me to provide an example to back up my somewhat controversial statement. The scene is set on October 11, 2011 in beautiful Danville, California. It’s Friday at lunch at my old stomping grounds, Monte Vista High School. Seniors mozy about the outdoors quad on a cloudy but comfortable and carefree afternoon with graduation looming in the near future.
A raucous begins over by where the self-proclaimed cool kids are sitting. My group of friends, who are of a considerably... lower social standing, immediately drop whatever we’re talking about so as to tune into all the commotion happening across the quad.
Two well-known knuckleheads and ne’er-do-wells walk to separate ends of the sunken quad, and run towards each other at full speed and engaged in a barbaric ritual known as the flying nut high five, popularized by Bam Margera and the late Ryan Dunn in “Jackass 3.5”. It was executed to perfection on the first attempt. The onlooking crowd of several hundred erupted into a chorus of cheers at the two whose bravery and sheer idiocy cemented their status as legends.
There was one, however, that missed this grand hoopla of testicular contact. One of my best friends, who declined to be featured in this article, but for our purposes will be dubbed Ryan, recognized the gravity of the moment. He fumbled to get his phone out of his backpack (why it was in there I don’t know) and was unable open Snapchat in time for the historic happenstance that everyone else got to be a part of that day. In his rushed and untimely efforts, with every last ounce of mental fortitude going towards catching the nut five on tape, looked up after the crowd had gone wild, only to realize that he had missed it completely.
Many other students had been able to film it, so Ryan saw it eventually, but I know that to this day, he holds himself in contempt for missing such a noteworthy moment in our adolescent lives. Much to my dismay, I was unable to find the footage from that day, for a duo of reasons. One, it was never uploaded to YouTube. The second, I was unable or unwilling to reach out to the people that I knew probably still had the video after five long and maturating years, during which the nut high five lost some of its original zeal for those of us that decided that high school wasn’t the pinnacle of our life. I did, however, find a photo of the, for lack of a better word, climax of the moment.
While the rest of the school buzzed with excitement, watching the ten second Snap video time and time again, Ryan carried on in agony as he was constantly reminded of the big moment in which his honest efforts were not rewarded fruitfully.
Fast forward to modern day, where Snapchat has evolved into one of social media’s top players. Before I get into my criticisms of how people use Snapchat, let me set the parameters highlighting my own hypocrisy. I am a Snapchat user. I frequent the app to send and receive funny pictures to my close friends. I often use it as a tool to keep in touch with friends that may be on the peripheries of my social life through a picture that may stir up memories of an inside joke.
I have a paltry “score” of 11,958, and I’ve received over 3,000 more snapchats than I have sent. Take these facts as you may as I just want to be transparent here, although I’m having a tough time not feeling like an asshole for not returning multiple thousands of snaps.
Evan Spiegel, the company’s 26 year-old CEO (who weighs in at a net worth of about $4B) stumbled upon millennial gold when he created an easy way to send something stupid and rushed without the burden of knowing there’s a solid chance that it’s going to be ridiculed and spread (the taboo of the screenshot is a subject for another day).
I’ll send a snap to a close friend that would both be shocking and disgusting to the public eye. But every once in awhile, I feel compelled to share a snap on my story, usually a picture/video that highlights a small piece of my sense of humor that may or may not be humorous to the 70+ people I call Snapchat friends.
This urge to push my garbage out to the small, online world of my peers in a vast sea of more severe garbage stems from an urge to feel part of an overarching community etc. etc. Where I differ from most is the thirty second to a minute period in which I exhaustingly contemplate whether or not the material NEEDS to be seen by the long list of close friends, old friends, and acquaintances I have given access to. The answer is unequivocally no, they do not, but I push send to due the human need to feel accepted and liked and all that crap.
With that being said, there is an incredibly significant faction amongst people in my age demographic that skip this crucial step of deliberation in favor of broadcasting menial shit that I know relates to neither myself nor anyone else for all to see.
Now, I don’t want to come across as a salty 37 year-old whose somewhat awkward age disallows them from participating in Snapchatting regularly. I understand the young adult’s desire to want validation for things including but not limited to: brunch with mimosas, petting a dog, burgers at In-n-Out, nature, being at a pool, or how could I forget, the beloved concert snaps.
These are the kind of things we’ve been desensitized to by the people who seem to be outputting 7-8 stories a day, and it can ruin things for us moderate user, who may really want to share something that was unique to our lives, but we know it will just blend in with the vast number of nearly identical pictures and videos that our friends post daily.
Some have told me, upon hearing my relentless complaints, “Tyler why don’t you just stop using Snapchat or ignore the posts of people you think are annoying on it?” While this is of course a completely valid and viable option, I reject it as my course of action, which is where my hypocrisy comes into play. I ride BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to and from work every day.
During these forty or so minutes a day, the options are to either sit/stand still and be alone with one’s thoughts, read a book, or pursue some interest on one’s phone. I can only read so many articles about how Donny is leading us into further international embarrassment, so I often find myself on the app of the white ghost.
I don’t discriminate whose stories I view, I watch them all from top to bottom to get a broad scope of what my network of pals is up to. This is to ensure that I have a comprehensive idea of why individuals use this pervasive and omnipresent app. Some, like myself, use it for humor. Others, to show off. And a great many people, to some extent, use it for no other reason than “everyone else is using it.”
To put a conclusive, finer point on my views, I think there ought to be a little more due consideration when posting a Snapchat that may have its viewers thinking, “Wow, there’s six seconds of my life I’ll never have back.” Enjoy life and enjoy Snapchat, but there is a very dangerous, teetering point at which you experience more joy from sharing what you’re doing than you do actually experiencing these moments. So next time you get ice cream from that new trendy froyo place that will be out of business in six months, just sit back, put your phone on the table, and enjoy.