It’s mind-numbing and baffling to think about, and the strangest part of it is that most of the time I don’t even notice I’m communicating in so many different places. There have even been times when I’ve caught myself messaging the same person through multiple channels.
“Each one serves its own unique purpose,” my 26-year-old co-worker Amanda Weatherhead said. “You call when you have a long story and you want to catch up with someone. Snapchat is for something short you only want to share once. Facebook and Instagram are for sharing funny things with your friends. WhatsApp is for people out of the country. Slack is for work.”
Seems simple enough, but for Anna Dworetzky, who’s 15, there’s a very specific age component involved.
“Snapchat and Yik Yak and Twitter — that’s all younger people,” she said. “But when I talk to parents or family friends, they’re focused on Facebook. My friends don’t really use it; my mom’s friends — that’s all they use.”
Snapchat is one of the most popular apps out there, and it’s commonly described as being nearly impossible for anyone over 30 to operate (I’m 35 and I can confirm this). Snapchat’s unique feature is that you can use it to send photos that disappear — perfect, ostensibly, for sending or receiving naughty pictures.
But it turns out that to use Snapchat for sexting is to be hopelessly behind the times. Its real utility is that it’s an effortless way to blend text and images. I downloaded Snapchat last year at the behest of a lady friend, expecting a deluge of sexy photos — instead I received a lot of selfies and short videos overlaid with cryptic text. It took me six months to send my first “successful” snap: a video that panned down from the view out the window of a speeding car to a Steve Winwood CD in my hand, with “Higher Love” playing in the background and the words “$19.99 well spent” overlaid across the screen.
It’s enough to make you pine for the good old days of typewriters and calligraphy.