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Photo courtesy of Snapchat / Facebook

Utilizing the Anonymity of Snapchat, for Better or for Worse

It appears now with the expansion of entrepreneurship into social media, the cliché notion “there’s an app for that [everything]” has been confirmed. Fanatics of every kind  - health junkies, gossip guzzlers, and matchmakers - can partake in the plethora of cell phone applications. Sometimes the apps are used with the best intentions, producing something worthy of showing a grandparent. Other times, however, apps can be manipulated to produce results that steam roll self-esteem and crush spirits.

An app which offers an example of these intentions and after-effects on either end of the spectrum? Snapchat.

This social media app allows users to communicate with pictures that show for no more than 10 seconds. The 'story' feature enables selected images to be viewed for twenty-four hours by any Snapchat friend. New updates also enable users to contort their faces and edit pictures with surprisingly high quality.

Snapchat has become one of the most popular apps used by college students today, especially with the new updates that allow for antics, unwelcome in the classroom, to be enjoyed quietly in the alcove of a library desk.

Many are familiar with the scandalous and illicit functions of Snapchat on college campuses. On BC’s campus, it goes by the name "eagle.snaps." It is the student-run account that features all the promiscuous (some would say honest) moments in the life of a BC student which were not up to snuff for the official BC Snapchat story feed. Most activity is logged on the weekends, typically consisting of not-so-viewer-friendly images.

Why is it that we, as a generation, have managed to find the worst way to utilize this application of technology? The material of eagle.snaps is no more than a show-and-tell of the over-admired, unlawful activities shared amongst college kids.

An alternative example, one of teens utilizing Snapchat in a relevant and productive manner, can be seen in Snap Counselors. It was created in India by three individuals, Rajshekar Patil, Avani Parekh, and Nida Sheriff, interested in counseling teens in abusive relationships. The account can be found under the ID: lovedoctordotin.

The Snapchat account operates like all others; the featured stories include encouraging images and videos, while co-founders Avani and Chayn provide personal counseling and information regarding abuse, stalking, and harassment, respectively.

Having observed the self-destructing quality of Snapchat, the three co-founders saw an opportunity for a counseling hotline for victims of abuse who do not feel comfortable confiding in family or friends. The private, non-intrusive nature of the app lends itself to the anonymity that counseling victims require.

Despite the healing potential of Snapchat accounts like lovedoctordotin, college students have honed in on the most immature aspect of the app. The sad fate of Snapchat is just another example of our generation, so inclined to exploit technology, finding ways to discredit the potential positivity of an smartphone-based invention.

And many wonder why our parents criticize us for being juvenile.