I should have seen it coming. I really should. I installed Snapchat for the first time about a year ago, and removed it within hours because the interface was so hilariously unintuitive. Then about a month ago a few friends from the internet were busy posting ridiculously filtered selfies all over the place, and I installed it once again to take a look – and once again remembered “oh yes, this is Snapchat – that doesn’t work like any other app”. I think I lasted about two days before removing it again. Then this weekend happened.
You want to know the biggest problem with the internet? People. You start out writing a blog, on your own little island, obvlivious of the world passing by, and you pretend you don’t really care about anybody else out there. And then somebody interesting passes by. And suddenly you’re reading their blog, and clicking on like buttons, or heart icons, and leaving comments on things that you agree with, or that make you laugh. Before you know it, you’re looking out for their posts, and finding that you damn well care about them – you care what’s going on in the life they post snippets of each day.
And you know what happens next? Those people ask you why you’re not on Snapchat yet, and rather than tell them the story of why you’re not, you say “hang on a minute”, and you go and sign up for a new account, and let them know your username. Moments later, photos arrive from the other side of the planet of smiling faces, and you feel like you’re the coolest person in the world.
Except you’re not.
I can’t help remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman’s line as Lester Bangs in the movie “Almost Famous”;
“They make you feel cool. And hey. I met you. You are not cool.”
When the rock stars of the social internet arrive in your phone, sending messages to your phone, it’s SO easy to become seduced by them, the gadgets, the thrill of new messages arriving, the smiles, the idiocy… and then you start to figure out how the app works (two years after you originally deleted it), and you think “I can do this”.
And that’s how the wheels begin to fall off your wagon. Because you’re a fraud. You’re not one of the cool kids, and you were never one of them. Yes, you can take a half-decent selfie from time to time if given the right lighting, and the right angle – but these people arriving in your phone are the same people that caused you to stumble over your words at school – to become instantaneously awkward.
Except they’re not. Because you’re older. And they are just people – like you. They burp, fart, and pick their nose – just like everybody else.
And you put your phone back in your pocket, and get back on with your day. But you make sure it’s at least on vibrate, in case they send you another message.