A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
As the battle for ‘Middle Social Media Earth’ rages on amongst the technologically savvy of us, it throws up several opportunities for comparison and preference. Much like the Nike v Adidas conundrum that kept MC Hammer awake in the 90s, this is the brand conundrum of our generation, the chief fodder of any conversation we have whilst standing at the coffee shop, bus stop, lecture hall etc with device in hand, paying a divided amount of attention to the person we’re actually talking to. Which one is better? Which one do you like more? Which one is going to be around for longer? It is a wonder that any of us get to sleep at night with such conundrums at hand.
Chief amongst these comparisons is that of the two current titans of the hand held device galaxy: Instagram and Snapchat.
Instagram, the slightly seasoned campaigner, allows users to upload a photo or short video to their account, use a nifty filter to jazz it up and then classify it with a set of #hashtags that allow others to see it as part of that group. You follow people, and people follow you, you may not necessarily know each other but it’s highly likely you’re both into #puppies, #thaifood or #fitspo.
Snapchat, the new kid on the block, allows users to send pictures or videos to a selected group of friends who are fellow Snappers that they can only view for a maximum of ten seconds. Editing options include the ability to draw on pictures and add a limited amount of text. Much like your first kiss, each photo is over too quickly and all you’re left with is a slight tingle and the memory of how things were.
So is there any difference in content or usage?
Well, the #shitgirlsdo previously alluded to on this blog (click here if you missed it) is alive and well on Instagram and it seems, has transitioned effortlessly to Snapchat. Unsurprisingly, #duckface is still not attractive but along with pictures of lunch, pictures of legs on the beach, boxgaps, pictures of mangos and the new kid on the block #bikinibridge, seems to have found a permanent new home at Snapchat.
It would seem that Snapchat allows its users to continue with their favourite #shitgirlsdo behaviour on a limited and possibly more palatable timeframe. Instead of annoying viewers every time they scroll down their Instafeed, Snapchat only annoys them for a maximum of 10 seconds. However, it could also be seen to be encouraging this, and several other gratuitous photos (otherwise known as #shitboysdo) that were previously limited to sexting and the talented purveyors of the stage show Puppetry of the Penis.
The only flaw in this plan is the well-timed ‘screenshot’. Much like the Peeping Tom with the Polaroid camera in the girls toilets from your Primary School days, the screenshot allows what should only ever be seen in a split second glance and immortalized in the imagination of the viewer, to be encapsulated and preserved for all eternity. It took the romance out of the schoolyard and it’s taking the chutzpah out of the sexting.
So essentially, we are seeing the same #shitpeopledo, slightly modified for the newer medium but essentially perpetuating the same messages about our society. We all love sunsets, quinoa salads and the beach but essentially these things just form a backdrop in the main narrative of the ‘Story of Me’, we are typically and predictably most interested in ourselves and it seems, our anatomy. How we look, what we’re doing, what we’re eating and how we’re perceived, and both Instagram and Snapchat allow us to feed this insatiable narcissistic need.
So how does one choose between the two?
Here are some salient points one must consider if they are to be informed about this Great Debate of Our Generation whilst standing in the coffee shop queue…
In Snapchat world…
Men will always feel the impulse to send gratuitous shots of their crotch. Sometimes clothed, sometimes unclothed and occasionally with a smiley face drawn on it.
Equally, women will be persuaded by such men to reply with pictures of anatomy that push/plough through the limits of June Daly-Watkins ‘Etiquette for the Modern Woman’.
It’s kept amongst friends. Or at least people you know.
You can write and draw on your photos.
The photos of someone’s food only last 10 seconds.
So do the bedroom shots of the really hot girl from your uni class.
People know if you screenshot them and will immediately presume the worst and never send you another picture of their tits again.
In Instagram world…
You can tell people you like what they’re showing.
You collect ‘followers’ like the Pied Piper of Hamlin or an Evangelical Christian Church Leader.
It has filters to make your photos look pretty and artistic.
You can see what other people are showing in that particular #category, and be inspired to collective #thinspo achievements.
The photos of food are endless, in quantity and in how long they are shown.
You can follow celebrities, brands, events and places to live vicariously through them.
Much like a James Bond film of the Brosnan era, it is replete with product placement.
The photos of the hot girl at uni feature a little more clothing, but you can screenshot them and she’ll never ever know.
Whatever you choose, the power is in your #handhelddevice.