The Snapchat Illusion

snapchat illusion

Don't fall into the trap. (AdamPrzezdziek/Flickr)

Humans have this weird way of taking anything good that's supposed to be used in moderation and overusing it.

We eat too much junk food, drink too much alcohol, and watch Netflix more than we sleep.

Too much of a good thing, as we all know, often has a way of turning bad.

When Snapchat first came out it was this odd little app that allowed you to send quick, silly pictures to your friends, with the catch that they disappear forever after a few seconds—unless someone takes a screenshot. Along with photos, users could post stories for everyone to see—and save—if they felt like it.

Like human nature, it didn't take long for people to take Snapchat and turn it into something it wasn't meant to be.

No, I'm not talking about the "nudes" that get shared back and forth. All I have to say on that matter is, if you're sending one, make sure the person actually wants it—nothing creepier and more unsettling than an unexpected nude—and that you trust them enough not to save it.

What Snapchat wasn't meant to be was an illusion, a lie. A lie about the life someone leads when the camera's not on.

Part One of the Snapchat illusion is those stories that your friends, or strangers you've connected with, post with images and videos of parties and adventures, that are nothing more than boasting for appearances' sake. They look like they're having tons of fun, but think about this: the last time you were having a lot of fun, did you have any idea where your phone was? Did you even care? Maybe some of you did, but for most of us the answer is probably "No."

An outing Snapchatted is usually done so because the setting is cool and the event seemed promising but turned out to be incredibly boring. So, the person brings out their phone and records the "fun" for short, ten-second bursts, then puts their phone back down and goes back to the boredom. This way, the event wasn't a total waste of time because now their Snapchat friends are envious of the good time they were tricked into believing was taking place.

How do I know this? Well, I've been behind the scenes.

Countless times I've witnessed people at mediocre parties planning out a Snap, then dispersing when it's over and waiting for the night to end. Or, I've woken up, seen a story, asked my friends how their night was and gotten an, "it sucked, place was dead," reply.

People create the life they want you to think they lead through that little lens on their phone.

Part Two of the illusion is even worse.

It's when people actually are having a good time, but for some reason they have to take out their phone and share photos or else they'll feel like the whole night was a waste. There are two or three people like that at every outing, people who disconnect from the experience in order to document it.

They have this twisted impulse to impress people with the cool things they do. In an effort to make that impression, they stop doing cool things and start recording other people, people who don't need validation from an audience in the form of FOMO.

It's sad, really, because these people are never in the moment. They can never just enjoy what's going on around them without the impulse to put an end to it by unplugging themselves from their surroundings. Memories aren't created and shared with the people who are also present—which is the only type of sharing that should be happening at social events.

That should be a rule of thumb: social events don't need social media.

That's why you're out of your house—to be social. Phone-in-hand is anti-social.

Instead of creating memories for ourselves, Snapchat abusers create them to be viewed. Viewed through a few inches on a screen, then forgotten about because no one cares about your life as much as you would like to think. To be honest, most people tap through those without even glancing at them.

So, if you're someone who cannot resist the urge to show off to others, leave your phone in the car or with a friend and I promise you'll be a changed person.

And if you're someone who does get a twinge of envy when looking at the lives people portray, now you know that, like all social media, it's 90% bullshit.

As with any social site, I'll give the following advice:

Proceed with caution, don't overshare, and take it all with a grain of salt.

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The Snapchat Illusion


Mia is studying criminal justice. Mia is obsessed with the classics and is always saying people need more Gatsby and Huck Finn in their life - not to mention anything John Hughes. She also spends her time as a staff writer for HackCollege.com. You can follow her on Instagram at @myohhmiaa.

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