What Snapchat Taught A Millennial About Growing Older

What Snapchat Can Teach You

Snapchat. I knew about it but never used it. Thought it was just a way for high school kids to send lewd photos of themselves that they would regret later when they realized the photo actually WAS saved somewhere. In the cloud. Or a cloud’s cloud. Whatever. I thought it was dumb.

But recently I got schooled on what Snapchat really is to the group of young(er) kids who grew up after me. I learned this while spending a week in Hawaii with my wife Megan. It was great! Hawaii, that is. Not Snapchat. It’s still dumb. But Hawaii was beautiful! We hiked to some waterfalls, ate some great food, were homeless for a night in Maui because a landslide blocked the only road to our rented condo (true story!), slept-in, got massages, did some beach yoga – and perhaps most importantly, we got to re-connect with some friends who live in other parts of the country. And it’s through them that I learned about Snapchat and how it’s literally changing the process for how we connect.

One of the nights we were in Waikiki, Megan and I ended up going out with a friend of ours from North Carolina. Brad is in his mid-20s, single, a small business owner, and there with some friends of his from around the same age. Now I’m not trying to act like a fossil, but let’s acknowledge that Brad and I are in different life stages. I’m married with two kids, and my normal bedtime is about 9pm on most nights, including weekends. Brad and his friends still consider 9pm the beginning of “pre-gaming.” And while I can certainly appreciate the concept of pre-gaming (I did go to college after all) I haven’t “pre-gamed” before a night out in almost a decade. However, Megan and I were sans-kids in Hawaii (thank you Grandma!) so we decided to join these young bucks out for a night of late-night shenanigans.

That night I took the opportunity to dive into the Snapchat phenomenon. I snapped everything – videos, photos, all things snappable. I even put filters on things. I sent messages to my friends who were already on it. After a couple hours I felt like I was finally getting the hang of it. And as is the case with everything else once you start using something, I began to realize that everyone around me was ALSO using Snapchat. This thing is starting to take over the world!

What I learned might shock you. It might not. Quite honestly, I’m not even sure why I said it might shock you. Hopefully you aren’t shocked that easily, and if you are, get that checked out with a doctor. But here’s what Snapchat taught me about growing older:

Technology changes quickly. And old habits die hard.

The whole time I’m using Snapchat I kept asking myself, “Why don’t you just text them the photo? Or put it on Twitter?” But obviously I’m in the minority. It’s everywhere, and people are Snapchatting their lives every day. It forced me to realize……..I’m getting old. I’m the old guy I used to get so frustrated with. When texting came out for the first time, everyone older than me said, “Why don’t you just pick up the phone and call them?” How ridiculous does that look now? Even my grandmother texts. But here I am…..looking at all these Snapchatters…..saying the same thing…..”why don’t they just text someone instead of Snapchat?” I’ve become part of the problem – or at least the old guy younger people politely ignore. So instead of brushing off new technology or new ideas as fads, sometimes you have to get involved yourself just to understand how it’s changing our perception, the people around us, and occasionally the world.

Recognize that even if the bigger picture doesn’t appeal to you, the smaller picture might have a benefit – and others around you might be focused on a different picture than you.

The night I started using it I found friends of mine who were already avid Snapchatters. While I still considered this new technology worthless, I was curious why these other 30-somethings were interested in it. Their responses surprised me. One of my closest friends uses it to save space on her phone. She takes photos or videos of their two kids and sends them to extended family a few times a week – but instead of clogging up her phone with thousands of photos of kids playing with Play-Doh, she uses Snapchat to send some good vibes to the family and then deletes the photos. I was so focused on Snapchat (the bigger picture), I failed to see its space-saving benefits (the smaller picture). The same can be said for changes in our career, new technologies, or a different opinion at work. You have to dive in if you’re going to understand the whole picture.

I’ll be honest. I still think Snapchat is dumb. I don’t entirely get it. But I DO know it’s changing the way people communicate, again. Just like texting did. And phones before them. Instead of fighting, I’ll be a casual observer on the side. You can find me at Paxson012.

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