Cornelius is a rail-thin dirty hipster (he is as disinterested in food as he is in washing his hair) who recently quit his job at an ad agency to pursue photography, whose mustache gets mixed reactions from all who encounter it, and whose passion is inspiring. His aversion to texting effectually makes you feel omni-important when you’re with him and frustrated when you’re not. And after an unfortunately long string of dates that ranged from horrid to eh, it felt nice to actually feel something. Did I mention he’s the son of a minister? What can I say? Little Jewish hearts want what they want.
I will embarrassingly admit (only embarrassing if he reads this) that he was the first guy in a long time about whom I got a little excited.
And this is when Snapchat entered my life.
Snapchat, an iPhone app I can only assume was invented with the intention of facilitating d*ck pics (pictures self destruct Inspector Gadget-style after a predetermined number of seconds) is the most narcissistic form of digital communication yet. People send pictures of themselves and/or what they’re doing without any recognition of or response to the picture they have just received, creating two simultaneous, but totally separate, self-involved conversation threads. Since the d*ck pic revolution, Snapchat has been adopted by teenagers who use it to send their friends mildly embarrassing photos. Of course, by teenagers, I mean 20-somethings who are desperate for yet another way to avoid actually talking to each other.
Once finally convinced by a (bad) friend to experience Snapchat for myself – because it’s “fun” – I discovered that it is just another communication device on which I will have to learn how to be cool, which is essentially inherently impossible. So far, it has served just as a way to prove further that I have no digital game. It’s literally the worst.
While I only recently allowed Snapchat into my home and my heart, my familiarity with it dates back quite a bit. I was first introduced to Snapchat through a family friend who has consistently Snapchatted with her long-distance on-again/off-again boyfriend since its emersion onto the scene. I would watch, slightly baffled, as she made a weird face, snapped a pic, then smiled to herself as she sent it along. Unfortunately, this boy is as confusing as they come and her barometer of his feelings for her depends almost solely on who initiates Snapchat and/or how long it takes him to reciprocate.
My family friend’s mom, feeling unable to offer solid advice on dating in the digital age, sends me updates of the daily drama and seeks my opinion/advice (which is confusing to me both because of this guy’s inconsistent behavior and because I don’t quite understand why anyone would want my dating advice). Having entered into a similarly Snapchat-based communication pattern with Cornelius (now more colloquially known as Dirty Hipster), I answer the best I can, drawing comparison to what has been happening with DH and me, but convincing myself it is somehow different. (The only even halfway justification I can come up with for why I have allowed this extensive Snapchatting to continue is that while I am a writer and prefer written communication, he is a photographer and prefers visual. Just let me have it.)
For a while, I was getting multiple Snapchats a day from Dirty Hipster; he would share his latest work-induced injury, videos of him on his bike or at the bar, and my favorite, pictures of himself with a simple “Hey” scribbled on it. Snapchat can be oddly flirtatious. Or maybe just perceived as oddly flirtatious. Regardless, however impersonal I thought texting was before, I now miss the days of full-length text conversations.
Recently, I found myself seeking the input of friends, contemplating the same things that once plagued me with AIM and texting. (How long do I wait to respond? Well, he initiated yesterday, so can I message him today? Does he like me or is he just bored? How big of a factor is it that he just split with his girlfriend of two years?)
And every time I hear myself referencing Snapchat interactions as though they are any type of legitimate indication of anything, I immediately am forced to reevaluate my life.
About two weeks ago, my family friend’s boyfriend made it official that they were off again just as DH’s communication, aka the frequency of Snapchats, began tapering out. I should probably mention that my family friend is 14-years-old. And as our dating lives aligned, I realized I am living a life directly parallel to that of a pre-pubescent teenager.
As disappointed as I am about Dirty Hipster, this is the saddest part of all.