I Hate Snapchat
I remember the day I first deleted Snapchat. I was sitting on an uncomfortable chair waiting for my milk tea, trying to remember whether I had locked my car. There were a half-dozen others in line, including three girls who were old enough to have fake eyelashes and dumb enough to not realize that the cashier was waiting on them. They were on their phones, but it was okay, because they were snapping themselves dancing – that's generous, it was more of a shimmy – to Party Monster by The Weeknd (a song I enjoyed enough to look up). I wondered why they had chosen to broadcast this exact moment… was it because they were excited about the new Pikachu-themed flavor of tea on the menu? Do they usually do their makeup when going out for non-alcoholic drinks? Were they (in their voice) *literally* turning into party monsters? Did they want to make the cashier suffer for forgetting their change? Maybe I was the one who wronged them before, because I was suffering too. But most importantly, how many seconds of their lives did they plan on trading for ten seconds of someone else's?
I hate Snapchat. It's one of few apps (next to the clock app – why do we need one of those? You can see the time in eight different places on your phone already) that make me exceptionally angry. It's an app typified by its piss-yellow color and naked ghost, one that made the jump from sexting app to not-entirely-a-sexting app by adding geotags, creepy filters, and… short-form news for some reason? Which by the way is fascinating: do I want to watch Emily Ratajkowski walking her dog in lingerie (Daily Mail)? Fuck yeah! I love the news! It evolved – or degenerated, based on your point of view – into a tit-less crevasse of animals, overpriced dinners, and edited selfies. And as an exceptional narcissist, I was a fan! But through it all, they still failed to address the one weakness: it serves no point whatsoever.
Evan Spiegel, currently Head Douche at Snap Inc – a cute rebranding – is one of the people that doesn't know what purpose his app serves, since he started it on the premise of #sendnudes (which all other apps could learn from, think of a world with Temple Run + Nudes) and didn't really expect it to go anywhere. Turns out, people really like nudes! While it's easy to write off his undergraduate frat-boy e-mail ramblings of "have some girl put your large kappa sigma dick down her throat" or "hope at least six girl sucked your dicks last night cuz that didn't happen for me" (excerpts from real e-mails he actually sent) as just immaturity, these sentiments have shaped the worldview of his little billion-dollar project. It does seem as if snappers actively try to shove their lives – especially the parts that we don't want to see – down our throats. And while you hope that at least six girls are around to watch, that's probably a bit unrealistic. Oh, and there's also Spiegel's legendary e-mail signature 'fuckbitchesgetleid', which like Snapchat, is redundant, misspelled, and entirely unnecessary.
Snapchat does, however, manage to fill a niche that MySpace only recently vacated – the gutter of social media. Think about the effort that you put into each of your social networks. Facebook is mid-tier in this respect, along with LinkedIn and Pinterest; you kind of care what you put on there, you don't needlessly spam posts, and there's a solid feedback system for good content. A little higher is Reddit which thrives on self-moderation, and Instagram where there's large time investment per post. On the opposite end, you have the rambling cesspool that's Twitter propping itself up on the sprawling mess that's Tumblr. And if you lie down on the floor next to Tumblr, and squint as hard as you can into the chasm below, you can maybe see a faint glimmer of the golden shower emanating from Snapchat.
Try to remember the last thing you saw on Snapchat. It's hard, not because it was so awe-inspiring, but because it was probably unmemorable. Remember when cameras were separate entities, like the 40-shot disposables? You were really picky about what you took a picture of – except the obligatory picture of the inside of your pocket. There were some memories that you thought about capturing, but didn't because they weren't good enough to show off. And there were the everyday moments that you'd never have even bothered to take your camera out for, the moments that would have been lost to history because they just didn't matter. Take those moments that don't matter, and lower the stakes for quality by making them disappear. That's how you get a snap.
Because I am a serious journalist, I re-downloaded Snapchat and looked at all the stories from January 19, 2017. My stories in order, without skipping a single one, were: (1) a video of two guys who I don't know eating food, (2) a screenshot of an e-mail about laundry, (3) a video of an empty office, (4) someone sleeping face-down on a pillow, (5) a video of a light drizzle, (6) a picture of the Warriors-Thunder game on TV, (7) pho, (8) some dude talking and not realizing he's being recorded (D'Angelo?), (9) a nametag, (10) more Warriors-Thunder but this time on a laptop, (11) pizza, (12) a selfie of the actual person whose Snapchat it is, (13) a video of a YouTube video, and (14) a coffee cup – none of which I needed or wanted to see (with the exception of the admittedly riveting laundry e-mail). I could have kept going, but I was getting bored. And nauseous.
Quick Tangent: Even calling these 'stories' is disingenuous. They qualify as stories in the same way that Suicide Squad was technically a movie because someone happened to catch it on camera. You could go from seeing a selfie, to a kangaroo, to Draymond Green's penis (purportedly on a cold day), another selfie with the filter to put a hat on your head, and finally Draymond's penis with a hat on its head.
There are different reasons we add people on our various social networks. Facebook lets us stay updated on everyone's racist uncles. LinkedIn gives us a chance to see whether other people's photographer friends are any good. Quora provides us with made-up anecdotes. And again, Snapchat fails to offer anything beyond seeing who prefers doggystyle – er, doggyface. At least Facebook promotes the self-aware brand of vanity: there, we're all fully cognizant of the 'look-how-much-fun-I'm-having' sentiment every time we post. But don't bring that nuanced, mindful shit into the world of snaps. Words and phrases? Fuck that when you can just take a picture.
Snapchat functions like those psychotic social-media-trackers which tell you when someone unfollows/unfriends you so you can inflict the punishment they deserve: unfollowing them back (since following friends is more important than following good content creators). You can see who's watching you, and by extension, who really cares about you. And like the best of egomaniacs, it doesn't tell you when you're wrong. In the absence of a negative feedback mechanism, like an angry react or public comment, you might be inclined to think that everyone's enjoying your stream of shit-iousness. An example: in the three concerts I've been to in the past three months (look-how-much-fun-I'm-having!), I bore witness to a number of serial snappers. Over the course of the approximately 90-minute affair (or in the case of Kanye's, about three songs' worth), about half of those were spent in front-facing mode, with the screens lit up, beholden to the dancing of their owners. Not once did it occur to them that their potential viewers might prefer seeing something more interesting, like Kanye, or some penis. It didn't cross their minds that those were the snaps that people just tap past so they can get through their hourly ritual.
It's incredible to watch someone's face while they check all their friends' stories. It's kind of a numb, I-just-want-my-friends-to-know-that-I've-watched-their-terrible-life kind of look. It's kind of like Tinder after you've painstakingly wiped off the first 1000 cards – it becomes a robotic, almost subconscious routine that you do just for the sake of clearing out your radius. Especially when you have that little icon next to each person's name as incentive, because you don't want to risk falling from the '100' to the lowly 'fire' stage of friendship. And if you have a snap streak going, you better not forget to snap them back, because that ever-increasing number is a symbol for your insecurity. It's like the Myspace Top 8, but if Tom was the only one who could see it, and he commented on it every day to guilt-trip you.
Based on the symptoms of paranoia (let me check who's watched my story), irritability (why haven't they watched my story??), mood swings (fuck that person), hyperactivity (let me post more so I go to the top of their feed), you can pretty much diagnose an addiction. But it's fun though, right? Because you're the center of it all.
Clearing all your blemishes and then posting that picture on Instagram doesn't make you real. Barfing a rainbow does not make you relatable. Painting over your schlong in the style of Monet without having to use actual paint makes you lazy, not talented. Maybe when they finally add a waterfall of poop emojis, you'll have a filter your face finally deserves.
It begs the question: if what you're posting is going to vanish from existence in 24 hours, was it ever really worth capturing in the first place?