If any of you are connected with me on Snapchat (see: etoda), you know that i’ve been playing around with it pretty heavily for the past month or so. Over the past month i’ve amplified my normal usage as I really wanted to see what it was like to be a super user.
After a month of sending snaps, adding to my story, drawing on pictures, and receiving lewd photos from spammers, I now realize what makes Snapchat great — and I truly see where it could go from here as a communications platform.
To understand Snapchat, you need to think about where we came from. If you consider the evolution of how we’ve communicated, it may look similar to this:
Currently, Snapchat functions in that “?” zone above. It’s a realm in which people are finally getting accustomed to texting vs. phone calls. Or, Sexting vs. those awkwardly erotic 1-900 numbers on late night MTV in the late 90's (I tried my hardest to find a link to a video).
Snapchat has fully embraced this transition and succeeded.
Boiled down, Snapchat’s success can be simplified into one equation:
The combination of knowing the message will be deleted forever and the ability to dress a photo with the use of high technology (MS Paint) has led the growth and rapid use of Snapchat.
I get it. It’s fun, and it allows you to be expressive.
So in honor of Snapchat and my exploration into the depths of it, I have created three vignettes each telling a story describing a few behaviors that i found using it as a super user.
“Let Me Take A Selfie”
One of the most common forms of communication in the modern age is the ‘selfie’. The selfie is the only form of communication that is so inherently ego driven that I am hard pressed to find anything that could compete with it (false — anything with nudity can in fact compete with it).
Rapid adoption of the selfie has taken off in recent years. At first it was only found in the deepest and darkest corners of the pacific rim (aka. techno night clubs in coastal metropolitan cities) — it has since been adopted into the mainstream (thanks, @ellen).
Selfies come in all shapes and sizes. I have found that most take place in public settings (normally with complete disregard for others around you) and bathrooms (yes, bathroom’s — you know, where you poo). The latter has me confused considering the bathroom is probably the dirtiest place in one’s home (again, for crying out loud, it’s where you poo!). To take a picture of yourself in the dirtiest place perplexes me as it frames the perception that you are inherently dirty and prefer to live in filth (or fecal matter). Like this guy.
“What Do You See?”
People will forever be intrigued by experiencing something through someone else’s eyes — a la “Being John Malkovich”. What social media has given us, outside of pictures of food, is the ability to look through the lens of someone else.
Many take this perspective for granted as it’s so commonplace.
Prior to social media, you had to rely on second hand accounts or even — gasp — photographs (how archaic…and quaint), to see another perspective other than your own.
Snapchat has taken this perspective one step further. You cannot only show your perspective, but tweak it using bright colors to inundate whoever is looking at your pictures with seizures.
The ability to flex your MS Paint muscles on photos is actually really cool, and a great way to troll the hell out of people. Which is something I love.
Sharing your Snapchat experience isn’t always about showing where you’ve been, who you were with, or even how you felt during that moment in time. The magic is that with the ability to draw and create media so easily, it can be anything you want it to be.
For me? It’s about twisting reality to bring the imaginary world a bit closer to the real world. You know, like a kid that has no friends and only talks to imaginary objects/people.
“Sequence of Hallucinations”
When you get the flu, do you ever wake up in the the middle of the night after a crazy fever dream featuring super heroes, dragons, etc? And screaming?
In any case, Snapchat is the safest way one can legally hallucinate or experience the wonders of a fever dream — without the flu! Staring out the window of an airplane is no longer something loners or potential threats to the state do. Now you can too!
Taking pictures of the same boring things are now fun again! Using the power of imagination, you can draw your own personal hallucinations, and make them into a “reality”.
When I was creating the storyline to the left, the man sitting next to me on the plane looked at me as if I lost my mind. Here I was, taking tons of pictures on my phone, minding my own business until I noticed him wondering what I was up to.
“Snapchat” I said — pointing to my phone nonchalantly.
The ‘sequence of hallucinations’ can only be categorized as a behavior expressed when someone is extremely bored (see: at the mall shopping). We are a culture of storytellers, so being able to tell a story in such an engaging way makes shopping for groceries a little more bearable(kidding again, @elyssa).
Slowly but surely, Snapchat is making communication fun - just as it always was (you know, when people spoke to each other). The shift away from the utilitarian ethos to having more ways to express yourself in messages is important not just to the progress of communications technology, but also with regard to communicative behavior in general.
The magic of MS Paint lives on.
Extras: ‘Fun With A Purpose’