: careful with that thing :

Have you heard about the new iPhone app, Snapchat? It’s all the rage these days. You take a picture, type or scribble a message on it, and send it off to a friend. A few seconds later — * poof * — it disappears. Vanishes. Even a technophobe like me is dazzled by the abracadabra nature of the app.In reality, though, if I’d gotten a photo via Snapchat I’d right now, this minute, be crashing around in ultra sensitive data files searching for the damn thing. And rendering the phone utterly useless in the process. Wondering what’d I do? Where did it go? How did this happen?

And that, my friends, is space age technology for you, a combination of Mission: Impossible and Get Smart. But why? Is there a big demand for this kind of thing? An untapped market for disappearing photos? The short answer is yes. Snapchat is currently sharing something like 10 million images a day.

Remember Anthony Weiner. I bet we know what he’s thinking: if only, right? You see, Snapchat allows the sender to decide how long the picture appears on the screen (up to 10 seconds) and sends an alert when the recipient takes a screenshot. But that’s as far as it goes, an alert.

Well, phew, the big obstacle to sexting has been solved. Or has it?

You see, like millions of others, I’m camera shy. Wait, let me rephrase that: I’m deathly afraid of having my picture taken. Fully clothed or (God forbid) stark naked, it wouldn’t matter, I’d find the experience deeply and irrationally unsettling. My chin quivers, my lips quiver, my knees knock, my skin turns bilious and clammy — all in all, I’d rather be waterboarded than photographed.

Picture day at school was torture. Getting my driver’s license renewed is a nightmare. The mere presence of security cameras is enough to make me self-conscious and ill at ease. No amount of technology, no ingenious software can cure that.

I’m afraid of morticians, too, they freak me out. So do pressure cookers. I’m also afraid of the IRS, public restrooms, heights, depths, people who make air quotes, lizards, bats, Bette Davis, and being buried alive. Is there an app to ward off any of those? I didn’t think so.

In the meantime, please, be careful where you point your cameras. One person’s photo op is another’s bad hair day. Thank you for your cooperation.

Copyright © publikworks 2012

16 thoughts on “: careful with that thing :

  1. Ok, I’m feeling incredibly naive. I started out thinking, “it’s a practical joke kind of thing or maybe it’s so your photo won’t take up space on your friend’s phone.” Sending naked photos was not even on my radar, even after you mentioned Wiener. I guess there’s an app for anything under the sun or moon now. :-)


    1. I hate to admit this, but I initially thought it was for coded communications — like proprietary stuff. Until it was explained to me. So you are not alone, Melody ; )


  2. Professional photos are the worst. An essay of mine was accepted in the Austin newspaper a couple years ago and every time the poor photographer tried to snap a picture to accompany it, I’d start blinking uncontrollably while my mouth contorted like a crazed maniac. The only way my friends recognized it as me was from my name captioned under the photo.

    I laughed out loud at “people who make air quotes.” You’ve conquered your blunk Lisa. Good one.


    1. You essayist you, congratulations. I’m not at all surprised you’re a writer; I could tell that from your comments. Add another thing we have in common to the list.

      I’ve got drawers full of photos like those. It’s a relief when no one can identify me in the picture — a blessed relief I tell you.


  3. I seem to remember reading about a guy who invented a device to keep from being buried alive. He created it because he’d been buried twice and wasn’t dead, apparently.

    I’m wary of pressure cookers too. How do you feel about crock pots and escalators? Or those extra long grocery trolleys made to look like semi-trucks or airplanes.


    1. Twice? Seriously? That’s horrifying, but funny in a sick kind of way.

      I think pressure cookers are the devil’s handiwork and those shopping carts don’t scare me — unless I’m steering. By the way, are you in the part of Texas with the millions of bats that fly off a bridge or something every evening?


      1. Yepper. From November to May, 1.5 million Mexican Free Tail Bats live under the Congress Ave Bridge, just south of the state capital, here in Austin. We have lots of mosquitos here, and the bats, they loves to eat them. So they fly out from under the bridge en masse every evening in search of the mossies. quite a site, really.


  4. Haha my friend told me about this. She said her sister was trying to say that it isn’t for sexting. Well of course it is! Why would they need to disappear if people weren’t using it for that sometimes!


    1. Hi, ninja. The developers insist it wasn’t designed for sexting and they’re trying to change that opinion. Good luck to them, right? One article said teenagers are using it to send really ugly, but funny, self portraits to friends, Don’t these people ever have homework?


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