In her article, “How I Learned to Love Snapchat,” Jenna Wortham observes the evolving communication world from the rise of text messaging to today’s apps like Snapchat, which are changing the way we interact. She claims that the fast-paced integration of text messaging introduced a new method, followed by a “low-grade, intergenerational moral panic”(Wortham 474). With the medium of communication constantly developing, Wortham believes that society is falling into a bubble of avoiding social interactions with the ease of sending text messages online.
Wortham reminds us at the beginning of her article of Friedhelm Hillebrand, the German engineer who helped create text messaging with the restriction of only using 160 characters. Now with the technology to send unlimited amounts of information through messaging, she questions whether text alone can capture the sentiment we experience when talking to people in person. Wortham herself writes, “Text barely captures even a fraction of the emotional depth and texture, even when we can type as much as we want” (475). Her point is that texts are unable to portray the feelings we experience and talk about every day with people. That text delivers the written message we want to convey but leaves out the emotions we are used to feeling.
To recoup the simplicity of talking, Wortham recommends an alternate method of communicating using voice memos. She insists that they represent an accurate depiction of being able to freely converse with one another. The author states, “Freed from that pressure, there’s no expectation of a return call, or even a simultaneous conversation”(Wortham 476). The essence of her argument here is that instead of having conversations on the phone or send text messages, these memos provide an alternative that successfully provides a comfortable level in which people can converse with one another while understanding feelings.
Incorporating an idea similar to voice memos is the app Snapchat. Through the uprising of all the different kinds of social media apps, Wortham distinguishes Snapchat as one out of their league. She reports it “leading the way” with its features that “ [allows] users to send short videos and images that disappear after a short period of time”(Wortham 477). She recounts the Snapchat experience as sending “snaps” back and forth with low-quality photos and features that can alter your face into animated characters. But Wortham reminds us that these attributes are what make Snapchat distinct from other social media apps, enabling individuals to become themselves.
Since 2012 when Snapchat was gaining popularity, Wortham has been learning how the app functions and suggests it brings a different level to the online communication world that seems apart from other apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. As she puts it, “Snapchat is just the latest and most well-realized example of the various ways we are regaining the layers of meaning we lost when we began digitizing so many important interactions”(Wortham 475). With Snapchat’s many characteristics, the author notes that these factors depict the basic levels of social interaction. She emphasizes its capability in bringing back the feelings forgotten when talking to each other was overrun by texting.
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