Why I'm Resisting The Pressure To Join Snapchat

Illustrated by Norah Stone.
Once, I pulled off the freeway and called my friend from a payphone to tell her I was stuck in traffic. It happened in the 21st century.

I’m not 100 years old, just a late adopter. I didn’t get a cell phone until my early 20s. It made my life mostly better, but also a little worse. I have zero sense of direction, so GPS meant no more crying on the side of the road trying to decipher the maps in the Thomas Guide my dad made me keep in the seat-back pocket of my Honda Accord. I could find my friends in the club after going to the restroom solo. I could talk to my grandma while walking the dog. Useful things.

The flip side is that I started obsessing over texts from boys and receiving upsetting news in public. And now, my phone has transformed into a crutch and a black hole. I feel the constant need to stay on top of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter — even though that’s like trying to pin down grease-covered piglets. I could spend twice as many hours as I already do toggling between social media platforms and still miss something: the tweet that tips me off to the new Target collaboration, or the post announcing a birth or even a death.

So when friends started putting little ghost emojis in their bios followed by their Snapchat handles, my first thought was, No, I will not follow you down that rabbit hole. When a friend, and then my sister, and then my husband told me Snapchat was the next big thing, I still figured I’d wait for the fad to pass.

But it hasn’t passed. And I’m still not on Snapchat.

I feel overwhelmed by the few platforms I’m already on. I guiltily check them before I go to the gym in the morning, at stoplights, in line at the grocery store, even in the bathroom (I know, gross) — too often, basically. Sometimes, when I’m feeling disciplined, I’ll check Facebook while I eat second breakfast, Twitter at lunch, and Insta after I’ve finished working for the day. I guess Snapchat could be my after-dinner scroll?

Worse than that, I don’t want to have to start something over again with no friends or followers. Back in the early days of MySpace, some of my top eight were blank because I didn’t even have eight friends on there yet. A social network isn’t very fun without the social aspect.

And I’m hesitant to learn how to use yet another new app. I remember how confused I was by hashtags when I first got on Twitter, and how mystified I was by people posting throwback photos on Instagram. (Were they scanning them? Taking pictures of pictures?!) With Snapchat, I don’t know the difference between stories and...snaps (I had to Google that term).

Yet still, I can’t stop toying with the idea of joining Snapchat. I’m not sure whether it’s FOMO or just a wholesome curiosity, a desire to see things from a new perspective (and by that I only partly mean to see what I'd look like vomiting rainbows). Sometimes my dog’s leg twitches when he sleeps, and I want other people to laugh without having to immortalize the moment, like I would if I shared it on Facebook or Instagram. The idea of creating something transitory seems vaguely Buddhist, like building a cairn.

Recently, on a trip to Macau, a twentysomething in our tour group taught the parent of a teenager how Snapchat works, and she immediately started using it to broadcast the show we were at. It seemed easy (pro) and addicting (con), which scared me.

I already spend too much time on my phone. Do I really want to be live-whatever-you’d-call-tweeting-on-Snapchat the next time I’m at a concert? Do I need more things to scroll through when I’m avoiding a deadline? For now, no. But if my friends keep migrating over there, I may have to finally follow them. After all, I can only resist the lure of face-swapping with my terrier for so long.
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