The Rise of Snapchat and Its Etiqettes

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Peter Hoegler

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Today’s young people have seemingly accomplished one aspect of living that adults have been chasing for years: Living life in the moment.

Snapchat — even more so than Twitter — represents the greatest threat yet to Facebook. While Twitter has seemingly trumped Facebook in popularity, it is the ephemeral nature of Snapchat that attracts its users.  Today’s teens have finally learned the lesson their older siblings failed to grasp: What you post on social media — the good, the bad, the inappropriate — stays there forever. And so they’ve been signing up for Snapchat — with its Mission: Impossible style detonation technology — in droves, all in hopes of avoiding the dreaded cyber footprint. Forbes estimates that 50 million people currently use Snapchat. Median age: 18. Facebook, meanwhile, has admittedly seen a decline among teenagers. Its average user is closer to 40.

Snapchat already has a set developing conventions. What these conventions reveal about Snapchat itself and its new users is another question.  Here are five tips, so that you don’t embarrass yourself on Snapchat:

1. Snapchat your crush first, then text. Over a year ago, when Snapchat did not exist, kids were “forced” to communicate with each other via text, which is a much more formal way of conversation. Now, it’s easier to Snapchat your crush with a picture of you and your friends saying “Hey” rather than awkwardly texting them “Hey, what’s up?”

2.  Don’t go too hard on selfies. Taking a picture on Snapchat is not a photo shoot — you don’t have to put too much effort into them. If you spend over two minutes trying to look good for your snap,  you  are  doing it wrong.

Good selfies are funny, raw, genuine and awkward. For the most part, everyone is trying to look weird for a laugh when others open their snap.

3.  Be careful opening Snapchat videos in public. You have no idea what they are. If you receive a video Snapchat, go to a private area and open it. The people around you do not want to hear your friend poorly singing “Story of My Life” in their room — it’s not courteous.

4. Make sure the flash is off when you are taking photos in public. A few months ago, I observed a friend in Chipotle who thought it would be funny to take a Snapchat of the Xaverian Lacrosse team wolfing down dinner. Unfortunately, the flash was on and all of the players were irritated. Long story short, we ended up eating our burritos in my car.

5.  Finally, beware of the dangers and pitfalls of screenshot. Snapchat communications can last ten seconds and be saved via screenshot, and then an upload, and then a message, and before you know it, it’s viral.  That being said, while we are learning to “live in the moment,” consider what moment you want to live for eternity.

Snapchat is growing and impacting the moment to moment savoring of our days.  What do we make of this?  Are we a generation incapable of face-to-face conversation?  Or are we delving into new venues for contact, new ways of sharing who we are with others and the world?  Are we teaching the older generation that to stage your life, sit for the pose, plan the encounter, are all ways of missing the moment?  Maybe, maybe not.  What we do teach: to just seize, snap, and send.