The information you get from social media is not a substitute for academic discipline at all.—Bill Nye
Look at the string of icons at the top of this page and one should understand that I am not shy to using social media. I have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Skype, and Instagram all set up and at the ready anytime I feel their use to be justified. As with many websites, Facebook is responsible for most of the visitors coming to this page, with Twitter coming in second on most days. I have other apps just for social media on my phone, including Vine and Periscope and Yelp. Perhaps most importantly at this particular moment, I have the NYFW app that allows me to view fashion shows even when I’m stuck in traffic. Yay me, I am so connected [insert eye roll here].
Yesterday, I received an email (you remember those, don’t you?) from my favorite editor at Pattern asking, “I’d love to figure out a way to use the reviews and the photos cross-platform…like on snapchat…do you know anything about creating graphics and uploading text to snapchat?”
Snapchat. There’s an app I wasn’t expecting to need. Instagram, sure. I know exactly how to work that one cross-platform. Pinterest? Not a problem; we can do that. But Snapchat? I don’t have a freaking clue, and with good reason: Snapchat is for teenagers.
Okay, so there’s no age filter on Snapchat that limits who can use it. Still, there are several apps on the market that are primarily the domain of teens and/or college students and I feel no compulsion to pretend I’m part of that group by downloading an app I’ll likely never use. Still, I told the editor I’d take a look. Having done so this morning, I can only come to one possible conclusion:
Snapchat is a portal directly to hell.
I should have known this app was going to be trouble when I first saw its logo. What is that thing? Is it a ghost? The soul of lost Snapchat users? A depiction of what your brain becomes after hours of Snapchatting? An unidentifiable GOP Presidential candidate? I should know better than to download an app whose logo I can’t dissect.
Next, as I go to download the app, a window pops up on my phone telling me all the things this app is going to access. My friends lists. My contacts. My location. My current physical position. The last five songs I’ve listened to on Spotify. My blood pressure (which is suddenly very high). My last doctor’s appointment. The list was so long I had to scroll. This can’t be good, can it? I have a very bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I promised I would take a look at the app and the only way to do that is to install it. Fortunately, my firstborn is already spoken for.
Upon completing the installation, one has to create an account. Immediately, I see another red flag: it won’t accept my full name. I’m still mad at Twitter for having dropped the final “r” from my name. I don’t like apps that won’t let me use my whole name because it’s dehumanizing. Not giving me space for my full name tells me they had lazy developers who didn’t want to create a database cell of sufficient size. I feel as though a portion of my soul is being stripped away from me as I create my new account name: c.letbetter. Sigh. Do you realize how many c.letbetters there are in this world?
Once my account is set up, with both email and phone confirmation, Snapchat then asks me to create a profile picture. Now, normally, this isn’t a problem. I have a set of images sized specifically for social media profiles. After all, I’ve done this enough we should be experienced, right? No. This is Snapchat. There’s no warning what is about to happen. There’s no option to upload your own picture. No, you press a button, the app counts down from three and then this happens (warning: those with weak stomachs or heart conditions may want to scroll down very rapidly):
Mind you, there is no option for editing out the bags under my eyes. There is no filter available. No, you just get a picture of me at 4:00 AM. At least, it should keep small children from accidentally adding me. We can only hope.
Next, they tell you that everything you do on Snapchat is in the moment. There’s no saving it for later. There’s no keeping it as a reference for what someone said or did. You create the Snapchat, someone sees it, and it’s gone. Hellooooooo trouble. This is probably why only teenagers use this damn thing; they’re not old enough yet to understand the need to save correspondence, even when it seems trivial at the moment. Snapchat opens the door to he-said-she-said arguments that are unsolvable because the whole record of the exchange is deleted. Sure, someone could always take a screenshot, but then faking a screenshot is rather easy.
Without evidence of any content, the door is open for all manner of malfeasance. One might share top secret information. An Apple employee in Ireland could let a hacker see their login info (for which hackers are paying a reported $10K). Vermin could run for President (oops, that one already happened). Your girlfriend could accidentally send nude pics to your mother. Just think of the horrors that could ensue!
Of course, all that is assuming that people add you. One cannot send a Snapchat to those who have not added them. Still, the more I’m reading about Snapchat hacking, the more I question just how insecure the whole platform may be.
There’s no question in my mind now that Snapchat is a portal to hell. And I still don’t have a clue how to cross-promote with it. NYFW starts tomorrow. Contact me the old fashioned way if you know how to solve this problem.