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There is nothing that bugs me more than
being out of touch with burgeoning social technology platforms and I make a serious effort to stay on top of all of it. I don't
want to be like my parents who couldn't figure out how to use a
Walkman. I wanted to get with the program, be in the flow, be down
and at one with my culture. So I wanted to Snap (all the cool millennials were using it as a regular part of their daily social vernacular and moms are going to take it over soon, anyway). Plus, Snapchat made everyone look so good.
But a funny thing happened on my way to trying to be socially with it.
Before I could even start with the snapping, tagging and
filter fun ( I'll get to this) I needed several basic tutorials. As a web designer who works closely with my UX/UI team, I find the app to be anything but intuitive. It's
incredibly annoying and the steps to navigate from one action to the next are
clunky and confusing. All the tutorials in the world could not help me figure out where the heck I was—the home screen , sending a message or making a video. By the time I got the hang of it (barely), I had
already deleted the app.
Once I set up my profile, I had to change it three
times because once you pick a name you can't change it (pain in the ass). I had to create a new profile and add some people all over
This was a disaster. My kids started snapping in the car. While eating. While in the tub. What new tech-monster did I unearth?
Then I got to snapping. What were all those cool videos I
was seeing with the lapping dog tongue, rainbow vomit and anime eye balls? I wanted some of that. First you have to "face map" (it's a selfie that maps your face)
and once you've done that, you can scroll through filters that do all sorts of "fun" stuff. You raise eyebrows and stick out your tongue and
all sorts of wacky stuff happens. Rainbows, pandas and vampires soon take over your "face." It's pretty cool.
I soon realized all the fun is just a ploy to keep you engaged, so the good people at Snapchat can make money. Before you know it, your face is one big sponsored ad for a TV show, movie or soda. The first "face"
in the filter line up is always a branded one. For example, I looked in the camera and suddenly I
was "inside" an "Empire"ad. A pair of what may have been Beats By Dre headphones appeared on my head with the Empire logo and dates and times of the show. It
felt nauseating how ambitious the whole production was.
Nevertheless, the faces are addictive. Why? Because even if it's
a vampire face, they make you look hot. They have all these weird filters that
do something to your face, eyes and skin that make you look like you've
been photo-shopped. Then you have your creepy distorted, elongated, smooshed and funny faces so
parents can't wait to get their kids into Snapchat.
And that's exactly what happened next. I
could not wait to introduce Snapchat to my kids. This meant within a few days, while eating dinner, I'm
all "lets make a snap!" And, not because they were
bored and pushing their food around their plates looking for entertainment, but because I was. With Snapchat I could entertain
myself by entertaining them.
But I soon realized this was a
disaster. My kids started snapping in the car. While eating. While in the tub. Oh no, what new tech-monster did I unearth?
The voyeurism is really weird and even creepier on Snapchat than on
Instagram. There is a looming concept of WHO THE FUCK CARES
that I'm eating a hamburger at Shake Shack, driving at 60 MPH and that it's 70 degrees outside. Really,
who cares. This notion of making every moment so important that it's worth sharing is really depressing. How
about just living for myself, being in the moment and letting it go? The way life really is.
I soon found myself addicted to watching all
these people (I don't know most of them) in the most
mundane trivial moments, instead of living my own mundane trivial moments.
Lastly, there was recent update of the app which was the final nail on the coffin. It caused my
iPhone to drain its full battery life within 30 minutes of being fully charged. Finally, I had the perfect excuse to get off it.
now a full week free of Snapchat. It feels amazing. Fine, I was only on it for a week but what a week it was!
Now I look at my fellow Snappers and feel bad for them. I
feel bad for their time and their kids. I saved the photos where I look like a pretty
alien but better yet, I saved my phone's battery. So if I get a phone call from my kid's school that they puked in class and need to be picked up, I will not have missed it by draining my battery snapping.