Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The joy of Snapchat

Headlines Heroes
(Headlines & Heroes)

The greatest source of millennial relaxation has become a dungeon. Social media provided an exercise of calm and mindlessness, the natural evolution of the magazine. It is omnipresent, never-ending, and either detrimentally or productivity-addicting. This year, as it seems to have done to many aspects of our world, has put its vulgar stench on social media. What was once an oasis of memes, cute animals and useless information has become an instrument of self-torture. At all times you are one thumb swipe away from a political or social jump scare: puppies lay below posts of Syrian destruction, with your acquaintance’s mundane anecdote above a threat to your morality.

At its social and political best, social media has opened the eyes of those who had no means to view the struggle of others. Its ability to spread information is necessary to a reading-averse generation, but the inundation of negativity, while needed, is defeating the original point of social media: joy. Of course, it cannot be forgotten that from a privileged platform I am able to complain about social media negativity. I am not the victim of police brutality, the target of “alt-right” (white supremacist) attacks, or displaced from a brutal civil war. While seeing retweeted images of carnage or shared posts about the post-election epidemic of hate crimes may be troubling for me to view, it is much harder for those who live the reality.

I would need a book deal to write about the complexities of social media in our modern socio-political landscape: its benefits and detriments, the responsibilities of parent companies and investors, the creation of echo chambers and the tipping point between being a productive knowledge-spreader and an annoying, unapologetic political-crusader. But, quite easily, I can give you the one escape we have: Snapchat.

Twitter and Facebook are the natural platforms of stress; sharing or retweeting is exceedingly easy, a direct comment feature allows for a back-and-forth conversation, and latent video possibilities are being realized. These platforms, for better or for worse (worse, in my opinion), are how many young Americans get their news (real and fake) and this news is often inherently troubling. Instagram, the Abraham Lincoln on the Mount Rushmore of social media (age-wise), is a natural descendent of Myspace in that an innate political nature is vital to success. Myspace was able to use friend rankings to capture a preteen audience in which friend hierarchies are important and constantly in flux. Instagram does the same with a “like” system which appeals to a wider demographic but still results in a callow need to maximize status. The platform is a popularity measure masquerading as a memory-sharer and wouldn’t succeed if it wasn’t.

That leaves us with Snapchat and its nearly unburdened joy. The worst stories you’ll find on Snapchat are in the “featured” section and sandwiched between by headlines like “The Definitive Ranking Of Every Kind Of Kiss” and “Snowmobiles: Our Greatest Enemy?” Every touch of the finger has potential for humor, whether it is your friend’s story containing his or her drunken escapade from the night before or Buzzfeed’s daily feature with some list that almost certainly doesn’t need to exist. But the truest joy, and what I am really writing about, is scrolling through the filters.

“Mindfulness” is a buzzword that has gained traction over the last decade. It is the idea of being aware of one’s surroundings and something one can practice at times when, normally, minds would wander. The New York Times even has a series of articles by David Gelles that inform readers how to be mindful in certain situations. There is also a backlash to mindfulness by those who believe that we are blessed to have wandering minds and shouldn’t hold our brains back from leaving the moment. I’m sure both practices have value, but I’m not an expert. I do know that when you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed and your aunt shares “Millions of Illegals Voted in California” or your high school acquaintance posts “Why can’t we all get along?,” being mindful might be difficult, and letting your mind wander may not lead you to the best place. The solution is to take five minutes for an exercise in fun through playful self-deprecation: scroll through Snapchat filters.

Ever wonder what you’d look like as Rocky Balboa or as an elderly dog? Me neither! But dang it, I laughed at both of them anyway. If you’re with a friend, face-swapping is never not fun. If all else fails, do a voice-changer and play it back for yourself. It’s okay to log out for five minutes and make room for fun.

Evan Gaudette is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *