On Impermanence and Regrettable College Photos: Why Do People Use Snapchat?


Snapchat. It’s trashy, sleazy, creepy, and on a technical side, somewhat buggy. But kind of like making brownies in a mug or Wyclef Jean guest starring on Sesame Street, it works.

I would have ignored its existence and left it for the teens who are still entertained by MTV reality shows and never knew the magic that was Boy Meets World. But as Snapchat gained moderate attention, my girlfriend’s mom became a maniac Snapchat power user. And thus, I reluctantly joined with the hope that I might possibly have one thing in common with this woman besides her daughter.

I am not talking about Snapchat the sexting app. I’m talking about Snapchat, the app for sending worthless visualizations of your every move to your friends; the app that makes it okay to take endless selfies and not feel ashamed. (Be embarrassed if that’s happening on your Instagram feed and go crawl under a rock and don’t ever come out if that person is you.)

The truth is, Snapchat has created a new communication channel; one in which the barrier for what is shared has been lowered. The idea of our image being temporary and lasting a mere 10 seconds or less has allowed us to think less and share more.

It seems that when we use Instagram, our ultimate goal is to have a picture that gets liked as many times as possible while acquiring approving comments. We take the quality and quantity of the responses we receive personally. The idea with Snapchat is almost the exact opposite: we are no longer on a quest for approval, we are simply sharing without any expectations.

And perhaps the popularity of Snapchat is finally cluing us all into to why so many teens are fleeing from Facebook. Those strategically uploaded pictures don’t give us a real idea of what’s going on in anyone’s lives, just an inflated sense of jealousy while looking at our newsfeeds that are clearly telling us we don’t travel enough, aren’t successful enough, and how the hell is everyone getting so much more attractive lately?!

It would seem that in this area, teens are almost ahead of the maturity game when it comes to social networking. With impermanent media, we can stop caring so much about how angular our jaws look, adding filter over filter until we’re somewhat attractive, and we can stop the goddamn skinny arm nonsense.

Snapchat isn’t without flaw. The quality of the camera intake leaves a lot to be desired, we’re constantly getting friend requests from unidentified users, and we can’t group our existing friends for fast bulk sharing.

But in a world where we are terrified of that slutty picture we took sophomore year on our way to the golf pros and tennis hoes party haunting our every career move, Snapchat is a breath of fresh air.

We envy the generation that didn’t have to deal with the stress and pressure of Facebook, Instagram, general social media; the upkeep, the reputation, the appearance, and the freshman year photos of us letting questionably too loose. Our every move has been chronicled in full public view.

Snapchat photos are used as pure, media-rich conversation; the distribution of fleeting moments without the added complexities of other social networks. We’re sharing a passing moment in time… and then it’s gone, as if you were there. It’s less precious, less nostalgic, and more about sharing that moment.

We can’t be liars on snapchat. It’s realtime, and with no filters. And it’s not worth lying — it’s 10 seconds for god’s sake.

We, the millennial generation, have evolved to actually seek and desire impermanence. With our growing fear and distrust of Facebook, our privacy, our online reputations, and every decision we’ve made before this current moment, impermanence is a blessing.

Live on, Snapchat.