Snapchat: The Ugly Face of Social Media?

A snapshot of hilarity, or have we all become a bit too selfie-obsessed? TILLY BENNETT-JONES and WILL PITHERS go chin-to-chin in a Snapchat debate.

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“Lets celebrate our chins!”

– Tilly Bennett-Jones 

Nick Grimshaw: not my usual go-to man when looking for a good citation. Recently, however, I have abandoned our esteemed Cambridge literary critics and taken inspiration from Radio 1’s very own intellectual beacon. “Snapchat! It’s a thing where you can send a message and it will delete itself. It’s like Mission Impossible but with tits.” It seems Willy Armitage didn’t get his name for nothing.

He would have made a fine Snapchatter

For those of you unfortunate enough to have never encountered Snapchat, let me quickly explain: it is an iPhone app that lets the user take a picture or, if you’re feeling particularly inventive, a video, and send it to fellow Snapchatters. The game-changer is that the picture self-destructs after a few seconds, never to be seen again.

“But you can screenshot it!” shout the naysayers. Yes, it’s true, you got me. You can screenshot. But where’s the fun in that? (Although that might not be what the recent vagabond who stole my iPhone was thinking when he received a flurry of snaps of a scantily clad Welshman, intending to scare him into confession).

The dream

Let’s face it though, for the most part, the allure of snapchat lies in the unsexy. As the Snapchat website so sweetly puts it, “having fun with your clothes on.” And, whilst their suggestion to send snaps of your “whacky facial expressions” might not raise your pulse, you will soon be converted by a fleeting selfie of the chin monster.

Indeed, Team Snapchat has been the lucky recipient of many of my interpretations of Dobbie, Gollum, you name it…

And if you are going to break all snetiquette and screenshot, make sure it’s as good as these.

The reality

“Photo ‘conversations’ are a step too far”

– Will Pithers

I loved it at first. In a world where everyone seems to have a cyber footprint (fuck carbon footprints – environmental concern is so noughties), it was reassuring to know that I could now send disgracefully ugly photos of myself that wouldn’t hang around for longer than ten seconds.

This is of crucial importance if I am to run a world-dominating media empire in ten years’ time. No closet rammed full of naked selfie skeletons, right?

Wrong. You can save that shit. Within weeks of Snapchat’s release, hacker/web designer Raj Vir had found a hack – which essentially means that anyone can save any photos or videos they receive, without the sender’s knowledge. I’m not exactly an amateur Snapchat pornstar, but I at least expect the courtesy of being notified when somebody is saving a photo of my bedhead/Labrador/poo of which I am particularly proud.

You should be so lucky…

At least when I give all my personal information to Facebook, I know they’re storing up all my dirty secrets to blackmail me to oblivion one day in the distant future. At least I know they own me. Snapchat is a whole new playing field of underhand tactics.

From a personal point of view, Snapchat has seriously affected my social life. Friends from home, with whom I used to chat on a daily basis, now simply send me a morning selfie with the caption, “Morninggg” (always with three g’s). What’s more, they feel that this is an acceptable replacement for the aforementioned daily conversations. I know they do, I can feel their smug satisfaction with every hideous snapshot that plops into my inbox.

Now this man is an Internet sensation. Is that fair?

And it’s just not. No silly photo can ever do the same job as a text conversation – and I know no text conversation can do the same job as an actual real life face-to-face conversation (do they happen in exam term?), but photos with one line captions are a step too far for me, I’m afraid.

It ruined my life. Don’t let it ruin yours.