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When I mention Snapchat to people, they fall into one of two categories. The first is the, “What’s that?” group. They’ll ask about Snapchat as they explain to me what they’ve heard. They’ll say, “that’s the dick pic app,” or “You send stuff and it disappears? Like boobs and shit?” or “Twitter?” (that’s my mom). Then there’s the other group. These people know exactly what Snapchat is. They know that all those things about dick pics and boobs and craziness are merely the M&Ms in the bag of trail mix. We get them every now and again, but there’s a lot of other crap you have to pick through. Pictures of a girl’s desk and a caption reading “bored.” Candid shots of fat people (visual antidepressants). Starbucks cups with misspelled names. Shoeless guys on planes. Videos of festivals that are just other people taking videos of festivals. The dude who spent hours taking a selfie and drawing a captain’s hat onto his head to show you that he’s eating Cap’n Crunch. Everyone in that second group understands that the reality is much closer to the mundane than the explicit. What keeps them sloshing through the muck is the opportunity for a small slice of the weird world everyone thinks exists, for the one girl you’re making out with who isn’t ready for third base but decides to keep you interested with a tasteful shot of her finger in her mouth, or because of the girl who responds personally to your mass winky-face snap with an, “Oh hey…” and a picture of her bare knees. Snapchat isn’t exactly what people think it is. In fact, it could be a paradise for social network flirting–except there’s one problem: the “best friends” feature.
If you’re not familiar with Snapchat’s “best friends,” let me ruin your life. Every Snapchat user has a profile that anyone can view. (ANYONE: girlfriend, boyfriend, mistress, senator.) Within that profile, there’s a “score.” Not one person I’ve asked knows what this score means or how points are accumulated. If I get to 10K, do I get to see the Snapchat ghost’s dick? The profile also includes the three user names that you connect with the most. It doesn’t matter if they snap you or you snap them. The girl whose nipples you want to see and the two dudes who send you their poops daily are on that list. It’s a very public revelation on an application that thrives on discretion. But why? There’s no good that can come from this list. I’m not buying buddy bands for my Snapchat best friends and me. This “best friends” feature only feeds paranoia.
The whole idea of the application is described on the Snapchat blog as “a fun way to communicate with friends.” The creator, Evan Spiegel, wrote that one of his reasons for creating Snapchat was, “If I want to show my friend the girl I have a crush on (it would be awkward if that got around).” Ha, that’s so cute, Evan. Real nice. Hey, Spiegel, you know what else is awkward? When you’ve been seeing a girl for a couple months and you like her enough to date but not enough to marry and you’re kind of still getting booby pics from some other chicks and the first girl, who’s not really your girlfriend but has the right to be pissed about you seeing other boobs asks you why Samanthababay9469 is your “best friend.” Not too fun, Evan.
I know about the evolution of social media applications. I’ve watched Facebook go from a device I used in college to see how girls looked on spring break to one that keeps me up-to-date with my cousin’s babies. I know that at its core, Facebook is still a “let me see that chick in her bikini” application, but it has expanded fringe uses. The same goes for Snapchat. Today, it’s an app that puts the vibe for boob pics out in the open with some chick you just met. But tomorrow? Go look at the website. There’s a YouTube video showing Snapchat’s vision of the future.
Grandparents and parents talking in some sort of video paradise where things disappear. That video doesn’t include your future wife ranting in divorce court about your “best friends” and saying that you’re some sick creep who still keeps up with a girl you haven’t spoken to since college. Yeah, maybe you’ve been sending her snaps, but maybe she just sends snaps to 1,000 different people a day, practically forcing herself into your “best friend” group. You see where I’m going? I’m Doc Brown, and I’m trying to save you from your future.
Our forefathers built our country on the idea of freedom. The freedom to go to Taco Bell and order a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla, just like they fucking planned. The freedom to meet a girl at a party, then hook up the next week, and then keep hooking up without any labels until she has to say that you two are just “hanging out.” The freedom to keep hooking up with her while being on a communication service that allows for a picture to be sent to 20 other girls. The freedom to to take a picture of myself chugging a Natty Light with a caption that reads “Party Time” and see which of those 20 respond. The freedom and the right to send a picture back to the responders of my nipple with the caption “Your turn,” without any real possibility of the girl who will show me her real, actual nipple finding out. Tomorrow, we celebrate our independence, and in light of that, I think we need to rise up and remember the promise our Founding Fathers made. We need to declare our own independence from the tyranny and oppression of the Snapchat top three. I really don’t want to have to explain myself to this girl I’m seeing right now. It’s getting weird.