I’m going to start by saying that this is kind of long; but, since there’s not much discussion happening on the topic, I’ve word vomited all of my bottled feelings inside this blog.
Our generation is consumed by the virtual worlds of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. That’s fact. I can speak of it because I’m living it. The following are stories I’ve created to illustrate the emptiness within our society today. I’m speaking out because I’m starting to lose hope in my community and see an emptiness left behind by this augmented reality. I think we all could use a REALITY check so I’m voluntarily offering up my words for your taking (and hopefully your consideration). These stories are depictions of real life instances. Maybe you’ll find yourself in one of them, who knows?
JOSHUA & KATIE
Joshua is 19. He just started at Grand Valley State University and can’t wait to get out of his parent’s house (AMEN!!). Joshua has never been in trouble at school or with the law and has a great family supporting him on his way to university but by the end of this school year, he will have enough evidence stacked against him to go to prison.
What went wrong during Joshua’s promising first year at school? Was it drugs? Was he involved in gang activity? Defiling school property or handing out test answers to fellow students? No. Joshua simply received a Snapchat from his girlfriend of two years, Katie, who happens to be 16 years old. Now, Katie’s parents and a court of jurors believe that Joshua should be sent away for child pornography.
Sending nude photographs has become eerily popular. This augmented reality that we live in is having real life consequences. Maybe Joshua’s going away to college and leaving Katie behind caused some bitterness between the two. Maybe this made it easy for Katie to tell her parents of the very mature relationship happening between them. Maybe she just got mad at him and reacted out of anger.
Will the “Age of Consent” protect Josh? It might legally, but what about his reputation? What about hers?
CALEB & KAYLA
Kayla just got some new lip-gloss (If it was me it would be from Tarte in the shade Hella Pink) and was feeling extra sexy. She decided to send her boyfriend Caleb a snap of her new look (and maybe a little bit too much cleavage). Kayla decides to do duck lips of course because honestly what other option is there nowadays? …(besides the dog filter) Caleb gets the message at work and shows off his hot girlfriend to his coworkers. Caleb could have just opened the snap and let it disappear but we all know he screenshots it. After several high-fives in typical dbag-like fashion, Caleb gives in and sends the racy photo to his coworkers. Kayla has no idea that her suggestive snap has now given motivation to more than just her boyfriend.
What’s the harm in that? you might be asking yourself. If you are – you’re further gone than I hoped.
JESSE & AMY
You wouldn’t have wanted to be there when Jesse uploaded his post-workout selfie on his story. His girlfriend, Amy, did not like this at all. “Who did you post that for?” Amy interrogated. “No one,” Jesse quickly replied, “It was just a Snapchat!” But that’s not what Amy thought. “You probably posted that so your ex girlfriend Rebecca would see and would want you back! I know she saw it!” Amy was pretty bitter about the snap for a good 3 days but now everything is peachy-keen and they’re back on track towards paradise once again…(until he does it next week of course).
**Honestly, I’m pretty guilty of this one..
JOHN & ASHLEY
Last week, John and Ashley went out for ice cream. Instead of a phone call, John decides to send Ashley a Snapchat the next day. John thanks Ashley for a great night and asks her out again. Ashley has been working all day and walks in the door to a huge mess. Ashley quickly checks her phone, opens the message from John, cleans up her apartment, and heads to bed. The next morning Ashley is eager to reply to John and schedule their next date but upon checking her cell phone she realizes she has several missed texts from John. While Ashley was sleeping, John texted and explained to Ashley that he would leave her alone. John mentioned that he saw Ashley opened his Snapchat message but never replied. “Taking the hint,” John decided that Ashley was uninterested.
“It’s only been 12 hours,” Ashley thought, “How could he possibly think I was ignoring him?”
How do we combat our expectations of immediacy in our very real world of busy lives and poor communications skills? Communication is hard. Some individual’s disappointment determines their behavior. What do you choose?
THIS IS IT, Y’ALL
There’s a lot of things that contribute to the environment that has consumed this society. Technology, I believe, is number one. The richness of community is being bought and sold like everything else in this instantaneous world. If it’s not now, it’s not good enough. If you don’t hear a reply within five minutes, there’s something wrong. If you can’t connect to Wi-Fi directly upon entering the grocery store, how will you entertain your kids? If you can’t catch a ride to the party until later, is it even worth going? You’ve already missed out.
This environment has created such a fear. It’s not just people using Snapchat. Everyone living within this environment reaps the consequences of expecting everything to be prompt. Individuals have lost sight of the value of living because of their fear of missing out.
There are no shortcuts in life. There is no text message that will make or break you. There is no acronym that can define your entire life. There is no way to fully live through the augmentation of technology.
So maybe you are an active Snapchat user and this entire discussion has been interesting and relevant to you (although some examples irritated you with their likeness to your own life). Maybe you are Katie’s mother and you can’t bear to read anymore about the demonic media that stole your daughter’s innocence. Perhaps you’re John and you’re wondering if you should give Ashley a call and apologize for your unrealistic expectations. Could it be that you’re Amy and you’ve just realized that your lack of self-esteem has just ruined your perfectly healthy relationship? Are you like Kayla? Did her story make you cringe or want to wear a turtle neck for the rest of your life?
It’s possible that you’re reading this and you don’t even operate a Snapchat account. Maybe you never will. Maybe you think it’s overrated and destroying the authenticity of community. If you do, well then I guess you’re like me.
Is it coincidence that the logo for Snapchat is a ghost? Some may say it represents the mentality and purpose behind creating Snapchat: “There, then gone.” The cute girl with the dogface filter – there, then gone. The underage drinking and drug abuse – there, then gone. The thousands of nude photos – there, then gone. The emotional support of a friend – there, then gone.We’re consumed by a fantastic, digital world as the real one passes us by. The images last ten seconds before disappearing forever; their contents may have permanent damage.
Perhaps our relationships are becoming very much like our snaps, “There, then gone.”