Snapchat: Who the F**k Cares??
We’re about to get a whole lot deeper than the title above implies. Get ready.(First of all: Welcome to my first ever medium article! You know this is gunna be good since I literally created a medium account so I could talk about this)
THREE HOURS OF SWEATY BACKS. That’s apparently what it takes to stand front row for Twenty One Pilots these days. It’s not surprising, considering how big they are — I don’t know many other bands that can tout that amount of sweaty-back-waiting-time — but it was still hell. However, despite swimming in a pool of hot epidermic armpit juice for entirely too long, it was totally worth it. Apologies for painting that picture so vividly, but I wanted you to know what these people endured to get the experience of the front row in a crowd of 60,000 festival goers. This is Firefly Music Festival 2017.
We had all struggled to get up close. We wanted the experience of a lifetime. We wanted to experience our favorite band up close and personal, unfettered by a million heads and signs and poles around which the people in the back were trying to look (like my grammar, mom?). This is exactly why I was so confounded when, as soon as Josh and Tyler walked out on stage, the beautiful sea of excited faces around me turned into an INFERNAL SEA OF STUPID PHONES…. and that’s the way it was for the entire. freakin. concert. It was as if everyone had coordinated beforehand — unbelievable.
LEMME BE REAL WITH YOU for a second: my own phone was dead, so it wasn’t an option for me to run with the herd on this one. Maybe I would’ve been just like everybody else if it had been juiced up, I’m not sure. But because it was dead, I was able to experience the concert in a purer way, and was simultaneously able to feel a fiery rage towards everyone else who was tainting my own, and their own experiences. It made me woke to a big problem.
Why does my generation have a first instinct to take out their smartphones right as something amazing is happening? Sure they may want to document a small part of the experience so that they can later relive it, but I don’t think that’s what was happening here. If that was the case then whole groups could share the same video. Instead what I saw was hundreds of people around me on snapchat.
SOCIAL CREDIT. That’s what everyone at that concert was thirsting for. It’s a commodity. It can’t be shared. It’s linked to you and you alone. A video of you at the very front of a 60k deep crowd seeing TwentyOnePilots at a huge music festival gets you a lot of social credit with whoever sees it. That’s why those videos were going straight to snapchat/instagram/facebook “stories”. That’s where most people will see them.
Suddenly, the social credit you earn among your peers from sharing an incredible experience has higher value than the experience itself. Suddenly, everyone’s forfeiting their own experience to instead show others that they were there. We’re skipping the race and grabbing for the participation medal. That’s backwards thinking. That’s going to ruin us.
Which life would you rather live: a beautiful life living your dreams where everyone thought you were totally lame; or the opposite: a totally lame life where everyone thought you were living your dream? On the meta scale, the answer becomes clear. Sacrificing our life experiences to impress our peers isn’t worth it. This is the first point I’d like to make. Watching the entire concert through the screen of your phone isn’t worth sacrificing the alternative.
THERE’S ANOTHER MORE SINISTER PROBLEM. And it’s much harder to see. Think about this: What happens when your decisions become dictated solely by their potential to earn you social credit with your peers? Instead of asking, “which would be more fun?” we ask “which would look cooler to my friends?” Herein lies the true evil of snapchat stories. When we change our decision-making processes in this way, we allow other to control us. Uh oh…
Who was at that concert because they were a true fan of the band, and who was there because they were a fan of what their friends might think? It’s not just in these big events either, this problem exists in the everyday life of someone who shares their experiences online. For those people, “What should I do today” becomes synonymous with “What does my audience want me to do today?”
I AM NOT DOWN FOR THAT. That’s why I haven’t used any sort of social “stories” platform for a long time. I’ve been down that road — I let others control my decisions, and I won’t go back. Living life by your own preferences is much much better than living by the preferences of others. And like any currency, social credit doesn’t always have value everywhere and at all times, so let’s not stake our whole life on that. Let’s live our lives in the moment, and avoid the facebooks & instragrams & snapchats, because, after all, WHO THE F**K CARES??