Snapchat: not just for sexting

01:56, Apr 16 2013

Like many, I avoided Snapchat at first. I was wrong. Let me tell you why.

Snapchat - a simple Android and iPhone app for sending pictures and video to your friends - is often conflated with another "S" word. The app's defining feature has become somewhat of an internet rarity: Snapchat forgets. No matter what you do with it, you won't be able to look next day at whatever you sent, and neither will whoever you sent it to. You see, Snapchat automatically deletes whatever you send over it from your phone, your recipient's phone, and even their own servers, all within a matter of seconds. It's neat.

It's also, of course, a near-perfect method for sexting.

This kept me, and many others, away. For a long time. Snapchat was released in late 2011 and has had near constant buzz since, especially when Facebook completely stole the idea. Being somewhat of a prude, digitally at least, I figured I wasn't really in the market for a sexting app. But that isn't what Snapchat is.

I mean, sure, it will do "that" pretty well. Snapchat only lets you see a picture while your thumb is held against the phone, and if whoever receives your snap screenshots it, the app tells you. Yes, someone could always use a regular camera to take a photo of your screen (though this would be hard with the required thumb contact) but that's unlikely.

I'm off track here. While Snapchat is used, often, for sexting, it is not for sexting.

Every message sent with the service feels inconsequential. This is incredibly freeing. You don't have to worry about your lacklustre composition skills or terrible cellphone camera on Snapchat. You don't have to worry about unattractive selfies either. The "snaps" are fragments of conversation, meant to be seen and forgotten, not remembered throughout the ages. It's refreshing to send something and not be able to look back at it and feel stupid, as one often does with a sent email folder. Snapchat is also a lot faster than regular picture messaging, and much simpler - if someone else has Snapchat (all iPhones and most Androids) they can receive your message, no questions asked.

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I've got all my smartphone-bound friends on Snapchat, and every one of them has become somewhat addicted. It's not the easiest sell rhetorically, what with the sexting connotations, but once they use the app they click immediately. My flatmates will me send a photo of their Halo game while I'm at my parents' with "JEALOUS?" written* all over it, I will reply with a quick snap of my parents' dishwasher, captioned "no". An expat friend to whom I'm not close enough to regularly email will send me a photo of London; I'll send her back a video of my cat. It's all kind of stupid, but so are most conversations; why not add pictures?

Of course, a whole lot of you will already have Snapchat. It's already ridiculously popular, not far off from the "your mum has heard of it" spot tech companies both dread and aspire to. This blog post will seem unnecessary. If you don't - and you have a few other friends with smartphones - I seriously recommend it. In an internet increasingly obsessed with permanence, it's nice to forget sometimes.

* Snapchat lets you draw or type all over your pictures and videos, letting you create little MS Paint-like monstrosities in seconds.

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