Carly Reilly | Millennial Musings: Snap the cold away

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Winter has officially descended upon Vermont. The wise among us have barricaded ourselves indoors with hot chocolate and Christmas leftovers, and don't plan on leaving until early April when there will be a fake-out spring, followed by another snow-storm, and a nearly satanic mud season. The others among us will go skiing.

Winter, of course, is an enabler to the misanthropes (a categorization that does or does not apply to me depending on my blood sugar levels and whether all my cute clothes are dirty or not). On top of that, my only two close friends in Vermont are moving to New York together this month, and — though I will be joining them just as soon as I have a job there — for now, you can be sure that on any given Saturday night you will find me wrapped in flannel sheets wearing Sponge-Bob Square-Pants boxers and an orange t-shirt from a lacrosse tournament I played in 10 years ago, watching Scandal, or working on a script for my GNATV show, Once Upon a Political Time. It also means I will be spending copious amounts of time on Snapchat.

Snapchat, I fear, gets a bad rap among non-millennials. From what I can tell, people over the age of 35 know Snapchat as that thing that allows you to send people disappearing pictures, and the obvious lewd implications of this underpin its stigma. Moreover, there is the concern that Snapchat exacerbates the 10 second millennial attention span and "friendships" without substance. This may all be true, but these Snapchat detractors fail to recognize some of what I like best about the app.

Snapchat has a feature called "snap stories," in which you can post pictures and/or videos that last for 24 hours from the time you post them and can be viewed by any of your Snapchat friends within that time frame. Snap stories offer glimpses into the worlds of your friends in a way that's more intimate than Facebook.

What I like about snap stories, though, is that it's social media without peer review; which is to say, there are no "likes" or comments on Snapchat stories. Consequently, I can post what I want without the fear that people will be judging my place in the social hierarchy based on how many of my social media friends write "yasss queen" under it. There is a certain peace in this for me: I don't care if people think I'm weird, but I care if people think other people think I'm weird. (Does that make me more enlightened, or less enlightened?)

There is also an intellectual fun to Snapchat that I imagine to be similar to the fun of being a New Yorker cartoonist who speaks predominantly in millennial colloquialisms.

My friend, for instance, sent me a Snapchat picture the other day of her staring at a computer screen, eyes manic, with the caption, "Relationship status: spent 45 minutes tracking down a Harry Potter fanfiction I read in middle school and am now re-reading it."

This is funny, if you get the multiple references within it, but it's more than that. In one very specific sentence, it captures something very broadly authentic about the experience of being a 23-year-old American woman in 2018; still on a certain precipice between adulthood and adolescence. It's cultural commentary through captioned images. It might not quite be political like the New Yorker but, still, I think that's art?

And boys (or our lack thereof) are hardly the point of this or any of our Snapchat conversations (despite the reference to a "relationship status"). Instead, we use Snapchat as a way to share or mock the simultaneous mundanity and chaos of this time in our lives.

It is something that makes the cold, Vermont winters infinitely more passable and less lonely. And with the rate at which the snow and temperatures are dropping, it is the closest I might get to actually hanging out with a friend - or seeing outside my bedroom walls for that matter — until spring. Part-time misanthrope though I may be, I don't know what I would do without it.


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