How Snapchat Will Lead to the Downfall of Civilization (I’m KIDDING!! But I do have some thoughts…)

It took Snapchat to turn me into my mother.

I use Snapchat sometimes…because I have friends who had been wondering their entire lives what I’d look like with a bird beak or tiger spots…and I can remedy that for them. Their lives are that much fuller now, and they owe it all to me. (And now you’re welcome. Because you were wondering too….obviously 😉 )

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I also use it to talk to my kids. Snapchat gets a bad rap – and some of it’s probably deserved – but nothing beats that timestamp when you’ve told a kid to do chores. There’s no preview either, and they have an obsessive need to check it. Far be it for me to capitalize on their obsessions, but there’s a certain joy in responding to a kid’s “how was I supposed to know you wanted me to clean the bathroom?” with “Because I told you to. On Snapchat. And you read it. At 3:42PM”. CheckMATE.

A few days ago, I was standing in the kitchen talking to my daughter on Snapchat. I took a picture and sent it to her along with some text. Right before I sent it, I thought “oh wow…I look really, really tired” but then I sent it, sans filter, because she’s my kid and she already knows what I look like and also…who cares, really? She responded a moment later with “oh Momma…you’re so pretty!”.  Now…she’s 15 years old..and she speaks sarcasm fluently. I assumed…and then I responded with “Ha ha ha!!! See you in a few!” And I didn’t think anything more of it.

But she did. She came home, ate and changed, and hopped back in the car to go back out. The second I got in to drive her, she pounced. “Why did you laugh? I gave you a compliment! Did you think I was kidding? I wouldn’t do that! I meant it!” and I realized what I’d done.  I apologized and thanked her for the compliment…and then I wondered.

I grew up with a mama who was very critical of her own appearance. She tended to be a little heavier, and I cannot remember a time when she wasn’t on a diet. She counted calories and fat grams. Ate cabbage soup for weeks and did facial exercises every morning in the mirror to stave off the effects of gravity. She was a good woman, with a wonderful heart and in many, many ways I would like to be just like her. But not that part. I’ve spent years trying to model something else for my girls. But in that moment, in that Snapchat….I was my Mom.

In the course of most days, I don’t look at myself much. Briefly in the bathroom mirror, I guess…but not closely. I tend not to think too much about what I look like – or spend much time on it. It’s not that I roll out of bed, do the minimum and arrive at work looking like I’ve spent hours. My alarm goes off at 5:30 and I leave the house at 5:45. I arrive at work by 6:15 looking…well..looking like I’ve spent 15 minutes getting ready, I would imagine. Maybe I should make a greater effort, but I don’t and I’m ok with that. My wonder is this…Now I take selfies, and I use filters and I send snaps. I see a lot more of myself than I used to because of it. And I don’t think any of that is necessarily bad. But, built into the whole “filter” phenomenon could be the idea that we don’t look good enough as we are.  Or maybe it’s just  for fun. Or both. I’m not sure. But I do know that it only took a couple of snaps to take me from not thinking about it at all to thinking that a compliment from my daughter must be sarcasm.   And I know that that makes me a little worried for all of the kiddos who send pictures of themselves all day long.

I know that Snapchat is fun. You’ll obviously sleep a lot better tonight now that you know what I would look like with a beak. And the voices? Hysterical. AND it’s a great tool for getting chores done. But I also know that I look nothing like this at 6:15 in the morning. I mean…the flowers are obviously real…but the rest? Pffft…it’s a filter. 😉
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