Snapchat Stories offers users the option to add their snaps to a mini-album that displays next to their username, creating rolling-news style montages built from snaps taken by users in the last 24 hours.
Snapchat Stories offers users the option to add their snaps to a mini-album that displays next to their username, creating rolling-news style montages built from snaps taken by users in the last 24 hours.

Snapchat... it's complicated, mom

By Lorraine Candy Time of article published Feb 25, 2016

Share this article:

London - Simple requests are often met with an indignant indifference in a household where teen and pre-teen girls reside.

Nothing is simple for them, everything is “complicated”. This week I asked my eldest to explain how Snapchat, the social media networking site beloved of her generation, works.

It went something like this. Me to the 13-year-old: “Can you show me Snapchat, please?”

Her, suspiciously: “I'm busy. Why?”

“I need it for work.”

“No, you don't.”

“Yes, I do, a lot of the businesses I work with use it so I need to.”

“No, you don't. You just want to be cool.”

“No, I don't. I just want to know how Snapchat works.”

I know better than to try to be cool. I once used the word “swag” inappropriately (someone told me it means 'cool'). The teenager and her 12-year-old sister mercilessly took the mickey out of me.

“Do you want some ice for your burn?” Number two child chided sarcastically after the conversation, whatever the hell that means.

“Just show me Snapchat,” I command of the eldest.

She holds up her left hand to silence me.

Her phone is in her right and she is staring at it intensely, swiping all over the place with her thumb: she is on Snapchat “talking” to lots of friends at the same time.

This hand-up manoeuvre is new and makes me boil with rage.

“Now,” I say, a little louder than child behaviour experts would advise.

“Why?” she asks again.

“I told you, for work, for God's sake just do it. I will give you a pound,” I answer, sounding more like an argumentative teenage girl myself.

She starts to explain Snapchat to me as if I am as dim as a The Only Way Is Essex cast member. I stop her briefly to remind her I taught her how to use a spoon, so the patronising must cease.

Snapchat, it turns out, is as complicated as the plot of the Bourne Identity films. And you really have to concentrate when you are on it. How come she can work this out all alone, I wonder, yet putting the lid on the biscuit tin confuses her every time?

This particular social media channel is instant messaging with pictures and drawings, it's real time and the pictures will disappear unless you save them.

My daughter is sat in our London kitchen watching American Kylie Jenner (a reality TV star, do keep up) driving a giant vehicle and slurping a giant Starbucks coffee in Los Angeles.

It's actually fun and I can see why it is so addictive. I really wish Marilyn Monroe had been on Snapchat, I say aloud. Both daughters look at me with confusion.

“You try,” my eldest says. “Film what you are doing and write a funny comment about it.”

I am about to disinfect our late hamster Walter's cage. I doubt it will set the social media world on fire or make headlines, as some celebrity Snapchats have been known to do.

Besides, I don't really want to go on Snapchat. I just want to know what my girls are doing on it.

Especially now I have discovered they are following a 14-year-old girl on their other social media addiction, Instagram, who is allegedly pregnant.

I don't know all the details as I only overheard a discussion about this young lady, who doesn't go to my daughter's school, but has become something of a talking point among London schoolgirls because of her condition.

At first, I questioned why anyone would post such an intimate personal story on social media, but my eldest showed me the girl in question's private feed (she has to agree to let you “follow” her and see what she posts, but has more than 5 000 followers, according to her account details). And it does, indeed, appear that she is due to give birth next month - unless the pictures have been cleverly doctored.

My daughters are fascinated by this girl's story, which is told in short celebratory bursts alongside selfies. Neither my children nor their friends cast judgment on the pregnant girl: they are passive, but curious observers.

I don't know what to think because, of course, no one really knows the details of her life.

This is yet another story among millions that unfold on the mobile phones of a new generation thirsty for insight into the minutiae of other people's daily activity.

Is it a good thing that reality can be chronicled in such an intimate and instant way? Or perhaps some things should remain private.

Only time will tell - meanwhile, I will be spending the next few generations continuing to figure out how Snapchat works.

Daily Mail

Lorraine Candy is editor-in-chief of Elle magazine.

Share this article: