A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to a journalism class at the University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa, primarily about social media.
Now, I know a fair amount about the topic. I’m active on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I’ve lurked on Pinterest and update my bio on LinkedIn. I’ve even been known to Periscope and add photos to Google+ every so often. I even have my own YouTube channel (that hasn’t been updated in a while.)
That’s pretty good, especially for someone “my age.”
But there’s a whole world of social media I know absolutely nothing about.
It’s called Snapchat.
And, quite honestly, the color of the site alone disturbs me.
Snapchat is an image messaging app that allows more than 200 million people are actively posting, sharing, commenting and viewing photos and videos that magically disappear after 24 hours. Of its active users, most are between the ages of 13 and 23, with a growing number over 40 (like me). Most of the images posted are selfies — no surprise — with the false belief that these images will never surface again. (Highly unlikely.)
I never had any interest in joining Snapchat. None. I’m already bogged down with the social-media platforms that I’m already using — why in the world would I want to add another one?
There’s a misconception out there about social media and me, mainly that I love it. In all honesty, as much as it’s helped me promote my writing and led me to build relationships with old and new friends, it’s become the bane of my existence. There’s always something I have to post or read or comment on. I have to strike a balance between posting enough photos and way too many. I’ve ruined many meals with my quick-draw iPhone skills and shared way too much with people about my life.
And, when I think about it, I do spent more time than I’d like to admit on my phone or laptop, browsing through feeds or responding to comments.
I hate living my life through social media.
So then I did the strangest thing: I joined Snapchat.
I’ll be honest: I though it was going to be a cinch. I’ve semi-mastered the other platforms; they’re all set up to be fairly intuitive, particularly to non-tech natives like me. Snapchat sounded easy enough — sign up, post videos or photos, done.
Not so much.
First of all, the dashboard is confusing. You swipe instead of click and I don’t know how to find people to follow. (Heck, I don’t even know who’s following me!)
Then there’s the problem of “real time.”
See, I don’t always post photos of places I’m currently at, for various reasons. Sometimes I forget, sometimes I don’t have Internet connection, sometimes I don’t want people to know where I am at all times. But with Snapchat, you have to be where you’re posting. It doesn’t work otherwise. Meaning, I can’t upload anything that’s not taken in real time.
That was my first challenge.
The next one was simply this — and it was quite a revelation: My life is fairly dull. I surf — though I can’t Snapchat that — and I hike — but the same trails every morning — and I go to work. At some point, I might eat something. But most of the time, I’m sitting at my desk, working. I’m writing or editing a story or browsing the Internet. I may grab a food magazine and read it. I frequent the bathroom. (Not quite Snapchat-worthy.) I might drink some water or stop at 7-Eleven for a Diet Coke. It’s pretty uneventful.
So what do you do when you’re life is pretty ho-hum? Who cares about your posts?
I went back to Instagram and look at friends’ feeds, wondering, “Is their lives really that amazing?” Of course not. We only post the good stuff. We don’t want people to know what we’re really doing. It’s not interesting enough.
Welcome to Snapchat. The documentary of your pretty boring life.
So here I am, Snapchatting my home lunch or Indy playing with his toys or the three (OK, it was more like 15) Reese’s peanut butter cups I ate on Wednesday afternoon.
And for whatever reason, people care.
Maybe because it makes us more normal than our IG feeds. Maybe it’s satisfying to see that people’s lives aren’t so glamorous as we think. Or maybe we just have way too much time on our hands.
I’m thinking the latter.
If you’re even remotely interested in my humdrum life, find me on Snapchat @catherinetothfox. It may not last for long. LOL.