In this election season, the photo- and video-sharing app acts as a reset button, allowing audiences to see and quickly forget misbehavior.
I’m perennially skeptical of grumpy dystopian commentaries on digital technologies, but this one proved interesting:
Snapchat is recording the here and the now, playing for today. Tomorrow will bring something new that renders today obsolete. It’s a digital Tibetan sand painting made in the image of the millennial mind.
I do wonder if my students’ biggest challenge lies in maintaining the steady focus necessary to complete a project well. Some of my colleagues ban digital devices in the classroom, but this seems to address more a symptom than a cause of inattention. Ironically, the sand painting comparison in the quote above proves the opposite point: if you’ve observed a sand painting in the making, you know both the calm concentration it requires, and the deliberate, careful, ritual destruction suggestive of nothing like distraction.
Perhaps there is something loftier here—witness the steady invocation of “impermanence” in all those sand painting commentaries. Maybe a Snapchat-like fleetingness is the proper digital approach to a world that doesn’t make much sense. But I suspect the age-old wisdom inherent in contemplative traditions holds true today: monkey mind is a phenomenon each generation will face, in various guises.
Snapchat’s head of news sees it differently:
Snapchat’s reports are ephemeral, he said, because “it’s about being in the moment” with this young audience, being in the flow of their lives.
Odd how easy this mixing of spiritual metaphors can be.