Grace Norman on how she feels about the recent Snapchat craze

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Upon my arrival back in St Andrews I was greeted with choruses of Snapchat love from my smartphone displaying Cheshire cat grinning, or prematurely giggling friends. “You have to get Snapchat, it’s hilarious,” my friends tell me. “Please get Snapchat, you don’t know how much fun it is!” or “Why didn’t someone think of this earlier? I’m so glad nobody can keep the photos I send…”

Needless to say I gave into the nagging of my friends and downloaded the app. One perk I’d definitely commend the creators of Snapchat for is that it’s free of charge. Nothing spreads like wildfire like free app.

My first week using the app was, I admit it, rather fun. Receiving updates from my friends in different countries in photo form was nice and the endless influx of my friends’ gruesome faces definitely perked up the gusty, grey St Andrews days. I even tried my hand at sending some photos myself, usually only of places and funny signs, but I tried nonetheless.

It was only after my first Friday of being in bed before midnight that I began to notice the downfalls of yet another means of instant messaging, only this time in the form of photographs and videos. Every hour that night, I was woken up by more and more Snapchat notifications from my friends in the process of getting—for want of a better word—wasted. It was actually a good laugh that first night, despite my loathing for broken sleep. Who doesn’t want to see their friends having fun and then getting home safe and sound? Even if their first stop, when they got home, was the bathroom (cue the hugging-the-toilet photo with the caption “I’m never drinking again.”)

Every weekend since and every night of the weekend (which, for a student, is inevitably longer than the standard two-day weekend of a worker bee), I’ve been woken up by the violent buzzing of my phone which also, to add salt to the wound, automatically lights up—a feature specific to Snapchat notifications, only to be greeted with photos of a friend’s midnight snack, the odd ‘nude’ pic, or the oldie-but-goodie on-the-toilet-photo. It’s safe to say, the novelty has worn off.

Here’s yet another glitch in the apparently flawless logic of Snapchat—screenshots. I’d like you to cast your mind back to the friend I mentioned earlier, and her naïve belief in her Snapchat invincibility. Little did she know…admittedly, this wasn’t something I was aware of for close to a month after I downloaded the app, but any more tech-savvy smartphone user will know that you can take a screenshot of your phone regardless of which app is being used. That’s right, those explicit and crazy photos you sent last week have not disappeared into cyberspace after your dictated five seconds; they’re hanging around on the memory card of your friend’s phone after she captured them in a screenshot. Perhaps it would be wise to stay close to that particular friend… keep your friends close and your enemies closer, as they say.

Granted, I am one of these friends. Potentially as revenge for having them sent to me in the middle of the night in the first place, I have been saving particular screenshots for future use, perhaps for a high school reunion. The possibilities are endless. So I can’t complain too much, I continue to enjoy some of these photos long after the drunken stupor of my friends has worn off.

Snapchat, like Marmite, is another increasingly common phenomenon that you either love or hate; there is no middle ground. Either you revel in the semblance of invincibility in sending your friends graphic or embarrassing photographs, or you loathe it for leaving you at the mercy of those friends who send graphic or embarrassing photographs in the middle of the night. Personally, I’m leaning towards the title of ‘hater’. Maybe it’s just because of sleep deprivation. But that’s alright, the craze will end soon… right?


Grace Norman


Image credit: Flick Creative Commons