I look up from my laptop screen to take a breather from the paper I am writing only to be greeted with the view of another college student holding out her phone to take a self-photo, or a “selfie.”
But no, she’s not just smiling for the camera and hoping this one is worthy of being posted on Instagram. Instead, she is scrunching up her chin, crossing her eyes, and making a face worthy of horror film terror.
Bold move in a public place, but I, along with other students my age, know exactly what she is doing: sending a photo via Snapchat.
“The uglier the Snapchat the better friends you are,” said Belmont student, Parker Roberts.
The trendy cell-phone application Snapchat enables users to send funny and embarrassing pictures to friends that can only be viewed for up to 10 seconds before the photo disappears.
“My friends send the funniest videos and pictures,” said freshman Graceann Belgiorno. “It’s a day brightener.”
These funny photos aren’t always exactly flattering, as both Roberts and Belgiorno said.
The Snapchat creators agree.
“You may not look your best, but that’s the point,” says the Snapchat website. “It’s about the moment… and not just a pretty picture.”
Belmont freshman, Stephen Schaefer uses the app, “to tell people what I am doing without texting it to them. It’s more personal.”
Creators say the application was made for purposes no further than funny photos, but not all students are convinced of these intentions, and some think it was made as a clever way to share intimate photos.
“That’s probably what it was created for,” said Roberts. “Inappropriate photos.”
Students are not the only ones who think this way.
There has been much speculation from major news sources about the app being created for sharing inappropriate photos and sexting, which is sending naked or partially naked photos.
A CBS news article said Snapchat has been, “coined by the media as the ‘sexting’ app,” due to situations like one in New Jersey where a high school student, “took a screenshot of nude pictures of a female classmate,” then proceeded to post them on Instagram and other social media accounts.
The app could potentially remove sexting issues. There would not be situations like the recent investigation in the Nashville area where three students were charged for collecting exchanging naked photos of their female classmates.
With Snapchat, the photos could still be taken and sent but would disappear in seconds. Unless of course the receiver takes a screenshot, in which case the sender would be notified.
There is no solid evidence of the app being created to aid in sexting without penalty, but that is not stopping smart phone owners from using it however they choose.
Schaefer agrees that people may use it inappropriately, but thinks “entertainment was the intention when the creators made the app and people twisted it to share their private pictures with each other.”
Regardless of the intentions, high school and college students are hooked on the app.
It is one of top 10 free iPhone apps available.
“It helps my best friends and I from home stay in touch,” said Roberts. “It’s a funny way to interact with people. You can send stupid photos and make people laugh.”
A CNN news article said that Snapchat, “now claims to process more than 30 million messages a day.”
This is an astonishing number, especially since two Stanford University students launched the app in September 2011 as a part of a school project.
“I use Snapchat everyday and for pretty much anything, like sharing something funny I see or sending a funny self picture,” said Schaefer.
Snapchat it is undoubtedly one of the most successful and entertaining iPhone apps among college students, no matter what they are using it for.
I may never really understand why there is such hype around sending oddball photos that disappear within seconds, but that clearly is not reason for students like the one sitting across me sending funny photos to her friends to stop using the app.