September 5, 2014

Product Review: Snapchat

By Justin H.

My buddies and I used to partake in a fun game back in college. Anytime we went out to eat in a large group, we would put our phones in the middle of the table. There was only one rule: first person to touch his or her phone before the check came had to pay for everybody’s meal.

The game was visibly painful for those who are less socially magnetic and spend a lot of time glaring at their screens. On more than one occasion I’d hear one or two utter, “So what do we do now?”
After the initial shock wore off, a nice open conversation would develop and everyone would forget about the mindless timeline scrolling that clogs our brains with nonsense all day.

Social media once started as a lame MySpace wall, and for many people has now transformed into a round-the-clock need for online interaction. The result of all this is a bunch of drones walking into stop signs because they were too busy live tweeting their every move, or driving up a curb because they were too busy Instagramming their daily chai latte with the misspelled name on it.

The latest big contributor to this societal anomaly is Snapchat.

This blog post is in no way an outlet for bashing Snapchat. It is actually a wonderful app that allows you to quickly share picture messages with your friends without filling up your camera roll. The photos also get deleted after one to 10 seconds, according to the user, to ensure that your oh-so-loyal friends don’t screenshot your embarrassing selfie and make it go viral.

The problem with Snapchat is just like that of any other social media platform. All things in life are great in moderation, but once they get abused it becomes a nuisance.

The devil’s advocate of this issue would decree that nobody needs a Snapchat. Facebook? That was very innovative. Twitter? I guess I can buy into that. Instagram? Okay, it’s a stretch, but we all like to call ourselves photographers. Snapchat? This is just too much.

Snapchat is really just a more direct and explicit version of Instagram. Anything you want to post on Snapchat can easily be sent in a group text message simply by hitting the attach button. In reality, it is just another reason to look at your phone, which is becoming an increasingly bigger issue.
It has reached the point where people interact without actually interacting. Believe it or not, phones were actually made so people could call and talk to each other! Who knew?

Now, it is too easy to take the alternative route. Instead of calling to make plans to meet up, we simply Snapchat a selfie of a bored face. Then, when we actually do go out, we have to Snapchat selfies of wherever we went to show our other bored friends on Snapchat. The culmination is a bunch of people who are never truly living in the moment, because if what you were doing was so noteworthy and memorable that you wanted to capture it forever, you would simply take a regular photo.

The supposed beauty of Snapchat is that no matter how embarrassing or ridiculous your picture may be, it gets “deleted” automatically in one to 10 seconds. However, this is in fact false. It has been found that photos do not disappear forever once they are viewed, but are simply hidden deep into the abyss that is the internet.

Snapchat themselves even acknowledged this in a blog post, saying “Also, if you’ve ever tried to recover lost date after accidentally deleting a drive or maybe watched an episode of CSI, you might know that with the right forensic tools, it’s sometimes possible to retrieve data after it has been deleted. So… you know… keep that in mind before putting any state secrets in your selfies :)” (http://blog.snapchat.com/post/50060403002/how-snaps-are-stored-and-deleted

In lieu of the recent scandal involving leaked nude photos of Hollywood A-list celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, that notion from Snapchat seems all the less reassuring now, doesn't it?

Snapchat shakes out to be much more of a luxury than a necessity. If you are still clinging to your old school flip phone, don’t worry because you aren’t missing out. Snapchat is a fun way to share silly pictures with your friends, but it has ballooned into something much greater that doesn’t have the same regulatory parameters such as a program like Instagram, now owned by Facebook.

Just send a picture message to your friend or buy a camera. Better yet, call them and ask to hang out and you two can make as many silly faces at each other as you’d like. As long as you are enjoying each other’s company and aren’t sitting at that dinner table with your eyes glued to your phone.

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