I really like technology. I grew up playing Ski Free and Crash Bandicoot. I even had a Pikachu pedometer in the fifth grade. I want to continue to understand and use the new developments in the tech and social media worlds so as not to become an old lady who tells my grandchildren long stories about how ‘in my day we didn’t have tiny computer chips in our irises” and whatnot. But I’m only 26 and I have no idea how Snapchat is supposed to work, which is bad. This is my attempt to better understand it. People under 26, I need you to answer some of my questions about how one is supposed to use it.
1. What are you supposed to do when you get a Snapchat?
For some reason, my instinct when someone Snapchats me is to send them a text saying, “Thanks for the Snapchat.” But I feel like that’s the equivalent of your parents signing their text messages with, “Love, mom.” But maybe I’m wrong and you are supposed to be sending people a thank you for sending a 10-second image of themselves and their boyfriends looking cute, or themselves enjoying bottomless mimosas. In that case I feel very rude not sending a thank you and sometimes anxiety over that leads me to not open Snapchats at all. My other guess is that I’m supposed to Snapchat myself doing something similar as a kind of response. Is that right? Or am I just not supposed to reply at all, or even acknowledge that you sent me a Snapchat, say of some ducks crossing the street, and we’ll never speak of it again? What is the social code here?
2. Who are you supposed to Snapchat?
When I first started Snapchat, I mostly sent weird image macros to my friend Jason, who would send them back to me. This was a lot of fun. But then people started to Snapchat me outside of my immediate communication circle. This confused me because my boyfriend (I assumed from his frown upon hearing the word ‘Snapchat’) seemed to be under the impression that Snapchat is a service teenagers use exclusively to send nudey pics. I could handle using this service to have fun exchanges with my gay best friend, but is it appropriate, to, say, open a Snapchat from a friend’s friend you met once at the bar? What were the chances that a Snapchat from someone you’ve met only once will be a nudey pic? 50%? Or 1%?
Is Snapchatting with dads ok? What about co-workers? A friend told me he sends me Snapchats as an add on to when he’s organically Snapchatting our other friend Mark. This lead me to start assuming that Snapchats were not taken intentionally for me as an audience, but for the Marks of the world, and I am simply an add on, in which case it’s perfectly ok for me not to respond to a Snapchat with a text saying, “Thank you.”
3. What are you supposed to Snapchat?
I will assume that Snapchat is a much more broad, 3 billion dollar+ worth network of communication than just something teenagers use to send ephemeral nudey pics. I feel like by believing that it was just teen nudey pics, I would not be giving teenagers enough credit for the ability to communicate in various nuanced ways, and the ability to take pictures of anything other than their own privy parts. But what are the occasions in which you are supposed to stop and think, “This is a Snapchattable moment.” And what makes that different from say, an Instagrammable moment? Or is it just that young people are over Instagram and any pictures lasting more than 10 seconds, and thus every moment is more Snapchattable than Instagrammable? When do I work Snapchat into my life? When I have an ice cream treat? When I am watching a funny infomercial? And in this occasion who do I send it to? One person or everyone on Snapchat?
I don’t know if I will ever really start using Snapchat the way it is supposed to be used. But I would like to know a) what do I do when I get a Snapchat b) Whose Snapchats, if any, should I avoid opening? Thank you 22-year-olds.