Have you noticed an increase of people taking “selfies” around you? People stopping in the middle of sidewalk or randomly pausing their work in the library to lift their phone up to the sky and pose with a funny face? Well, thanks to snap chat, people have a reason to take lots and lots of silly photos.
Snapchat allows people to send cute, goofy, and unappealing photos of themselves to their friends that disappear in three seconds. After the three seconds are up, the photo self-destructs, never to be seen again, unless someone is cleaver enough to take a screenshot of it. However, the user is notified if the recipient saves his or her photo. This three seconds gives someone the ability to take an embarrassing photo without having to worry about seeing the photo circulate around social media. The photo is only seen by the person the snap is sent to.
Snapchat was released in September 2011 as a way for people to share photos that disappear within three seconds. It is used most often by teenage and college students looking to connect with friends through photo entertainment. To enhance the experience, Snap Chat recently released ten second video taking capabilities in its most recent update. Despite the fun aspect of snap chat, people often abuse the app as an outlet to engage in sexting. The anonymity of a screen name and the possibilities of a photo that disappears in seconds allow people to create these cyber identities. The reviews of snap chat on the Apple app store are filled with people looking to snap chat with. Users such as a 15 year old girl post, “Guys snap me? Dirty ;) or clean I don’t care.” No relationships are being formed here, just people feeling bold, hidden behind their cell phones, never physically engaging with the boys and girls they snap with.
Despite the possibility for people to use snap chat the wrong way. More people use it properly. At the University of Maryland, almost all students with smart phones have been using snap chat. Many students use the app to the point where it consumes their lives. People are obsessed with snap chat for a variety of reasons. It is a fun way to connect with friends near and far and is something fresh to use besides Facebook and Twitter, where exchanges between friends are often public. Sophomore English and government and politics major Rachel Gee uses Snap Chat with her best friend who lives in a different part of the world to connect in a way other than typical texting. She downloaded the app a month ago when she bought her iPhone. Her friends told her this was the app she had to have. “I snapchat because it’s a great means of taking some time out of your busy day to laugh with your friends and at yourself. We all need to laugh at ourselves every once in a while — snapchat just allows me to do that more frequently,” Gee explained about her constant snap chat use.
Freshman Letters and Sciences major Becca Newkirk uses Snap Chat less frequently but enjoys using Snap Chat when she does. “I can send ridiculous pictures and not have it be there forever,” Newkirk said.
However, others are not as willing to become a snap chat user. Some feel that sending unflattering photos of oneself is obnoxious. One might not want to make a fool of herself, or allow other people to see her in that position. “Sure Snap Chat is fun and entertaining, but people are obsessing over it to the point where their lives are consumed by it. I’ve seen people hanging out with friends and Snap Chatting other friends while being with them,” confessed freshman kinesiology major Kassie Coulson.
Freshman journalism major Josh Needelman downloaded Snap Chat then realized how much he disliked the premise of the app. His friends sent him “snaps,” but he never returned the snaps because he had nothing to send back. “I love my friends, but I have no interest in seeing their faces morph into ‘ducks’ on a daily basis, nor do I want or need to know who their friends are or what they are eating for dinner. I don’t need to constantly keep in touch with everybody on a minute-to-minute basis,” Needelman stated.
Needleman feels like Snap Chat eradicates individualism because it becomes a constant need for people to interact. “It contributes to an increase in superficiality. Whatever happened to keeping to oneself? Now, everyone has to always know what everybody else is doing, exactly when they are doing it. It is sick,” Needelman explained.
To compete with the success of Snap Chat, Facebook revealed its new app, Poke, on Friday. It differs from Poke in two main ways. Although the photos both disappear in three seconds, Facebook holds on to the photos in an encrypted form for two days in case of abuse. Also, Facebook Poke only allows users to connect with friends, whereas Snap Chat allows users to connect via phone number, email, social media sync and username. Finally, Poke lets users send messages and pokes as well as has location services enabled, which Snap Chat does not have those features.
Whether you are an obsessed Snap Chatter, future fan, or uninterested user, Snap Chat has definitely made a splash on campus. It is truly everywhere, but it is up to you to decide if this app is for you. Will this app’s popularity last like Instagram or fade away into the background like Temple Run? Only time will tell.