Facebook, Then Tumblr, Now Snapchat? Oh My!

In middle school Facebook was all the rage. But as high school rolled around I struggled with some issues and turned to tumblr as my outlet. As I overcame those issues I deleted the account and moved to something more direct. Something more personal, but in a different sense. A place where I have fewer followers, and all of them know me on a personal level. I turned to Snapchat, a direct response based app where you can choose to either communicate with people one-on-one, share something with all of your friends, or do both at the same time. Snapchat is, “a somewhat intimate network of friends who I don’t care if they see me having fun at a party”, as described by Watts, another Medium user in his article analyzing the different types of social media. While I am more than just a social media account, my transitions from Facebook, to Tumblr, and now Snapchat heavily reflect my growth as a person.

Middle School is a time where kids are most likely to fall victim to social pressures, as they are still in the midst of exploring their personal identities. I remember just wanting to be accepted by others, and hey having someone accept my friend request was a start, wasn’t it? Even though we probably weren’t going to interact in person ever, we both still had an in to eachothers lives and we could like eachother’s post as a means of publicly displaying that we accept, enjoy, or agree with the other persons posts.

I look back at my posts from when I was 13 and laugh out of embarrassment. I would post frequently as a means of getting attention from saying things like,“Shopping then rehearsal later!!! (: ❤” (Claffey). Each post was equally cluttered with excess punctuation, and emojis, and things no one cared about. I wanted people to think I was witty, or talented; whereas now I read them and think, I’m sorry 13 year old me, but nobody cares.

High School was even rockier than Middle School. While I was no longer craving acceptance from my peers, I was still in dire need of support. High school was a time of secrecy, and I turned to tumblr in order to cope with my emotions; because “god forbid my real life friends realize know how messed up I am”. I would write lengthy posts about my issues, and as I got more sucked into Tumblr I would put a hashtag on my post so that others struggling with the same issues could see my post, and together we could form a supportive community.

I never had to worry about who my posts were going out to. My audience wasn’t one that I had selected, but rather one that had selected me. It gave me that sense of acceptance (that I had wanted for so long) and value to know that I had been chosen.

I poured my soul into that Tumblr page. I thought it was the one place I could let my walls down and just be open about how really not okay I was. But unfortunately I realized I couldn’t hide my feelings on a screen forever. Eventually, contrary to Watt’s assertion in the section of his blog where he discusses tumblr, “It’s hard for the typical parent snooping around” to find your account. Well, I guess my parents aren’t so typical because they found mine.

While it killed me at the time to know that my mom now knew so much about me, it made me realize that I needed to handle my problems myself. Sharing them with a bunch of strangers wasn’t doing me any good. The fact that I could share so much truth and pain with a screen, yet not share it with the woman who gave birth to me is absurd. I deleted the account and will never reveal that much on social media again.

In order to stay true to my promise of revealing less on social media, I have switched to using Snapchat. I began using the app in the later part of my high school and now college career, as I no longer have as strong of a craving for acceptance or support from a large audience. Now that I’m a bit older I like to keep it more intimate. I only have about 30–35 friends on my snapchat and I know each and everyone of them personally. I would rather receive acceptance and support from those people rather than that guy in my Bio class that didn’t know what grade I was in, or from the stranger online that understood how I was feeling.

Unlike Facebook or Tumblr, on Snapchat you physically chose your audience. You click on who you want to see your snap whether it be one, two, three, or all of your followers. It creates more direct contact, as you know exactly who is viewing your snaps. (Snapchat shows you when someone has opened your snap),

I use snapchat as a form of communication. I like to be able to see people while conversing with them. I like to know that I will get a response on something, whereas if I scroll down my wall on Facebook I rarely get comments, only likes. I want communication. Embarrassingly enough, my mom is my best friend on snapchat. She uses it to send me pictures and videos of my pets, which is really nice. I also love when my friends at other colleges snapchat me. It’s interesting to see what their college life looks like, and how it differs from mine.

Sure, you can always send a text and describe what the school looks like, or how silly my cat gets on catnip, but to coin the phrase, “a picture is worth 1,000 words”, and that’s what makes snapchat so special. You are interacting with a close group of people, a direct audience, and generally getting a response. “Snapchat is where we can really be ourselves while being attached to our social identity. It has a lot less social pressure attached to it compared to every other popular social media network out there. This is what makes it so addicting and liberating. If I don’t get any likes on my Instagram photo or Facebook post within 15 minutes you can sure bet I’ll delete it. Snapchat isn’t like that at all and really focuses on creating the Story of a day in your life, not some filtered/altered/handpicked highlight. It’s the real you.” (Watts).

I’m over being a victim of social pressures, or feeling like my value is based on the number of likes I get on a picture or status. I’m comfortable with being who I am, without editing. Snapchat is where we can be ourselves which is why I feel it is a strong representation of myself, and where I am in my life. Maybe in a year or two snapchat won’t be my dominant app. Maybe I’ll grow out of it like I did Facebook and Tumblr. But for now Snapchat is where I stand. And I’ve gone through countless realizations and growth to get here.

Watts, Andrew. “A Teenager’s View on Social Media.” Medium. 3 Jan. 2015. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social media-1df945c09ac6>.

Claffey, Alana. Facebook. Alana Claffey, 26 July 2009. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <https://www.facebook.com/alana.claffey>.

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