Seems like everyone is texting; you type your slangy message, press “Send,” and a few minutes later your friend gets the same message. But if that’s not enough, now you can have the NEW NEW NEW Snapchat!! Currently sitting pretty as the third most-downloaded free app on the App Store, Snapchat allows “real-time picture chatting” between users and is the self-proclaimed “fastest way to share a moment with friends.” It’s a simple concept with a single proviso: your friends can view your photo messages for only a few seconds before they disappear forever.
We live in an age of disposability, and Snapchat wants to merge mobile messaging with the easy-come-easy-go zeitgeist. Each picture message is transmitted for 1 to 10 seconds, as designated upon sending. After that, as Snapchat’s mischievously smiling ghost mascot reminds, the picture is gone forever, leaving only a memory in its place. If somebody takes a screencap of the message, its sender will be immediately notified. “Basically it’s for sending dick pics,” my friend told me, and, my curiosity piqued, I downloaded the candy-coated app on the spot.
I was immediately met with App Store screenshots demonstrating Snapchat’s uses; judging by the depicted target demographic, my friend was right. I imagined a middle school full of giddy middle-schoolers sending each other two-second flashes of their genitalia. Dimwits surreptitiously transmitting test answers without a trace.
I was alarmed when Snapchat started up and showed me a list of my contacts who also had the app. Too many names for comfort, and a disparate group to boot: an ex-girlfriend, a playboy friend-of-a-friend, my friend’s baby sister, my own little brother, an old fratboy compadre, and even my old buddy of definitively genius intellect. What did it mean? Popular apps, I thought. It’s still strange to me that they’re a thing.
In the end – that is, after a week or so tooling around with Snapchat’s straightforward functions – I felt a little differently. It’s a party I’m glad to be a part of, but soon it’ll be over. Just another inconsequential fad. But didn’t fads used to be toys and clothes, or even TV shows? Well, now add software to that list. The first sign most likely came during my own middle school years, when I felt like the least popular kid in public school because I didn’t have AOL or AOL Instant Messenger. At least now that I have iPhone and Snapchat I can send out second-long gems like this one: