Snapchat me that Realness!
When it comes to arguments about social media, we often here about how they are making our culture more cynical, in-genuine and overall more thirsty for attention and affirmation. We often judge our value based on the number of likes we get on an Instagram post or the quality of comments we receive back on a Facebook status that we thought was funny.
Today, I’m not going to talk about that side of social media even though I fully agree that they can be toxic to how we view ourselves. Instead, I am going to talk about a certain social network that in my experience, has tended to have the opposite effect. I’m talking about Snapchat.
For those who are unfamiliar, Snapchat is a mobile application where users can share and edit photos and videos. Users have the ability to control how long these “snaps” are viewable and after they are viewed, snaps are then deleted.
To be honest, I absolutely detested Snapchat when I first heard of the app. It sounded like the sort of application that teenagers would use to solicit photos of their crushes doing things that their momma perfectly well taught them not to do.
Snap Snap Snap…
Now, even though this may still be the case, I’ve come to realize that Snapchat is a lot more. I downloaded the app over a year ago out of curiosity and I still didn’t understand Snapchat until this summer. This summer I had the privilege of constantly hanging out with a group of people that were obsessed with Snapchat. Through that experience, I became obsessed with the application
Sending selfies of myself is not something I used to enjoy or even endorse. A while ago, I wrote a whole blog post entitled “Selfie Esteem” about how selfies are inherently self-centered and should be taken with caution. However, that was years ago and since then my opinions about selfies have changed mainly due to Snapchat. On Snapchat, the intent behind your shared content is not always vanity. Snapchat culture is not about always taking the best picture or looking cool for your friends (although sometimes it is).
A bulk of selfies that I have found myself sending on Snapchat have been goofy, unflattering and in some cases disgusting. That’s the beauty of the application. The framework within Snapchat has allowed its users to form the social rules for the application. The idea that our sent pictures and videos will disappear has created a culture where people are not afraid to express themselves and has actually allowed me to realize something special that is unique to this application.
Since I have started using Snapchat with my friends, my confidence has boosted. I’ve found myself becoming less self-conscious about how I look. I’ve grown not to care about how photogenic I’m not and in fact, I went from never sending pictures of myself to people to sending them daily.
Not because I thought I looked any better than I did before, but simply because I didn’t care how I looked. I’ve sent pictures of my face that are borderline obscene purely in the name of comedy. The more and more I did this, the less and less I cared about how I looked. Simply just seeing my own face through the lens of my front facing phone camera changed how I saw myself. I became used to my own face. I began caring less about what people thought when they would see my face.
For the record, I’ve never really believed that I’m an ugly person (except in high school during my acne phase). I believe that everybody is to some degree self-conscious about their own appearance. But thanks to Snapchat and the culture around Snapchat, my perception of my own physical appearance has changed.
I have been able to take myself less seriously and as a result, I feel much better about myself. Even though the developers of the application probably didn’t intend for this to be an outcome, Snapchat holds value in my heart because of this experience alone. Here’s to hoping that more social networks find more ways to making people put themselves out there. That’s my Snapchat story.