From Facebook to Snapchat to Instagram Stories, or Other Ways My Kids Make Me Feel My Age

“Mrs. Wolfe, you have a Snapchat?” my 9th-grade student sputtered. It was after school, and I naively left my phone front and center on my desk. Yes, indeed, baby Wolfe had chatted her middle-aged mother, and the world now knows.

“Yep,” I smiled as I clicked off the screen. “How else would I know what my kids are doing?”

“That’s awesome!” he exclaimed as if no one my age EVER would know what Snapchat was, let alone how to use it.

Snapchat

The truth is, I strongly dislike Snapchat. I don’t dig the fact that I have seven- plus seconds to read and scan a photo. I dislike when my volume is off and I miss the audio on the video she sends. And I really abhor that I can’t go back and review the images over and over – I want to know what my girl is doing, where she, what her life looks like. She doesn’t live here anymore, and I’ll grab any glimpse I can.

So why Snapchat?

Because that’s what millenials/teenagers/anyoneunder30something use. And if I want to be in the know, I’d better know how to Snap.

Ugh.

Just a few years ago I wrote about my then 13-year-old son jumping online with Facebook. At the time, I was a combination of shocked/curious/dismayed at the idea of his jumping into social media. The ‘pros’ were obvious; social media offers a glimpse into the world away from parents where kids can show other sides of their personalities. He coaxed it would allow him to be tagged when he/we travel, and how much more connected we would be.

Snapchat

Facebook lasted all of a few months for him. Now 17, he tells me he does a monthly check in to see if he’s been tagged. No connection there. Facebook is for old people.

For awhile both kids posted on Instagram – mostly after-the-fact images of their adventures, seemingly innocuous sunsets and sunrises over the mountains, or goofy poses with their friends. Bu these days, ‘grams’ are few and fleeting, and while I love the peek into their worlds, the succinct shots of life don’t have the same impact as good ‘ole Facebook.

Maybe that’s why Snapchat is so problematic for me. It enhances the fleetingness of the millennial lifestyle while at the same time reminding me that I cannot swipe or click fast enough to capture a memory for review. Despite my establishing the perfect condition to carefully open the snap, fingers poised perfectly to screenshot, I undoubtedly mess up, ending with a disappointing shot of the carpet. Not to mention the inability to magnify the image to satisfy my failing eyesight.

Snapchat is an exercise in frustration at best.

And now, just in the nick of time, we have Snapchat’s ‘world lenses’, plying old moms like me with easier replay and overlays that really do emphasize the generation gap. Every time I see someone wearing kitty whiskers or pursed lips and a helium voice it really makes me wonder about the future of the next generation – to have all that time on your hands and spend it augmenting your undeniably ordinary existence is hard to digest.

Someone, stop this Snapchat nonsense.

Instagram to the rescue.

Snapchat

As if the angels heard my plea, Instagram Stories has dumped into my phone glimpses into my children’s semi-adult lives that actually allow me to soak in the moment – I can see my girl on the mountaintop, hear the wind blowing against her phone and the crunch of the snow below her ski boots. And just when I start to hyperventilate that she’s on top of a mountain that she just hiked up to see the sunrise, Stories segues into the next video montage, showing her safely at the bottom of the hill.

Thank you, Instagram, for figuring out how to overtake Snapchat and settle my stressed out mind. Now I can hit ‘replay’ over and over and over, soaking in the details and sharing with grandma and grandpa without feeling like my screenshot game is minor-league. And since all things come back in style, if I just wait long enough, maybe by the time my kids have kids of their own Facebook will be trendy again, and I can take all the time I want replaying and sharing photos of my bound-to-be-adorable grandchildren to all my old lady friends.

See ya, Snapchat. Can’t say I’ll miss you one bit.

If you’d like to be my old lady friend on Facebook or Instagram, you can find me sharing stories, snaps, books and beauty there on a regular basis. Snapchat? Not so much.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe at jenniferwolfe.net.

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