July 20, 2016 6:29 pm

A few years ago, a friend mentioned Snapchat to me as an app specifically purposed for sending and receiving naked pictures that immediately disappeared after the user viewed it. While I thought this was a great way to make it harder to store, share and publicly humiliate people who send nude photos of themselves to others, my genitalia is quite camera shy, so this was not for me. Only after being told that I could do other stuff on Snapchat by a much smarter friend did I enter the ghost world.

funny-snapchat-darth-phoneSoon after joining, I discovered just how fun Snapchat is, and with continuous improvements happening, it’s only gotten better. Their filters are frequently updated, unique, silly, and also allow the user to be creative with each one of them. As a proud recluse, the only reason why I’d even consider travelling the world is so I can see all the different geography based filters Snapchat has to offer in each city and town.

No other photo/video based app has those features nor can compete with the up-to-the-second spontaneity of the app. Whether it’s Vine or Instagram, a narrative arc seems necessary within each post in order to even legitimize its existence. With Instagram, it’s nearly taboo for somebody to post more than one image a day. Seriously, I’ve seen countless examples of people prefacing their post’s caption with an apology for sharing, god forbid, TWO photos in one day. Snapchat does not have this problem, all photos or videos that the user chooses to share get bundled up into the their “Story,” so there’s no timeline flooding to worry about. No apologies necessary.

In a surprising development, however, the app championed for its entertaining disposability has decided  to make a strong commitment to journalism. Over the past few updates, major media outlets and TV channels like Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, MTV and Comedy Central began popping up at the top of the “Stories” page featuring videos and articles made specifically for the app. At first, they were tiny little circles that were easy to ignore. Now, they’re bulkier rectangles demanding more attention. They’ve also added a new page labelled “Discover,” which is entirely dedicated to those outlets.

At first glance, this can certainly be taken as a blatant “fuck you” to the ghosts of Woodward and Bernstein (neither of them are dead), as well as the distinguished history of journalism as a whole. But if executed well, this wouldn’t be the first time an app created for inane intentions became a hosting ground for brilliant voices who may not have been discovered otherwise.

When Twitter began getting attention, Ashton Kutcher was the first master of the medium somehow. Yes, Ashton Kutcher. This can not be forgotten. He was the first to hit a million followers and it was actual news. Athletes like Charlie Villanueva and Gilbert Arenas used Twitter as an easier way to get in trouble instead of them having to risk a broken hand by going all the way to a nightclub and punching somebody in the face. As the site grew, smarter people began using it in smarter ways. Activists like Deray McKesson and Johnetta Elzie (or simply, @Deray and @Nettaaaaaaaa) used Twitter as a way to organize the Black Lives Matter movement. Comedy writers started getting book deals left and right. And as Twitter implemented new features, writers had better ways to expound on richer ideas incapable of being summed up in 140 characters.


What worries me about Snapchat is how it doesn’t seem to be following the template of Twitter’s template. The potential is certainly there and the Story feature has already been well utilized during major events by prominent figures. The problem is that most of the notable examples of heavily followed Snapchat users are celebrities who were already famous to begin with. Snapchat did give DJ Khaled’s relevance a boost, however, the appeal of his snaps to begin with was that he wasn’t exactly starving for the boost to begin with.

Any good social media app worthy of its over inflated IPO obviously needs some celebrities, though. Just look at how well it worked out for Dane Cook and MySpace. The celebrity base is necessary. But aside from the famous folk and those aforementioned media outlets, there isn’t an easy way for a regular user be shown to a wider audience.

Ironically, this is what made the app such a sensation in the first place. The path Snapchat wants to take gives great hindrance to a user’s drawing power due to the privacy afforded to them. Standard features on social media simply can not be done at this present time because of this. There’s nothing comparable to a Re-Tweet, a Like, a Share, or a ‘Person You Should Follow’ feature. There isn’t even anything in place that allows someone who read and enjoyed a certain media outlet’s Snapchat article to follow the author’s personal account. And while Snapchat Live does show a collection of snaps by individual users pertaining to a major event, none of their usernames are shown there . It’s also kind of a mystery to me how someone gets featured on Snapchat Live in the first place.

Such a lack of accessibility to an organic, non-famous, user’s account really delivers a blow to the whole “social” aspect of Snapchat. The skeezy, yet well intentioned, foundation of Snapchat needs to be reconfigured in order to help make the voices who want heard on there can get exposure without Buzzfeed or Comedy Central press credentials. If left in its current state, there simply won’t be a high likelihood of there being Snapchat’s version of a Vine Star or Twitter Sensation, just a bunch of dicks with dog ears.

May 16, 2016 3:34 pm

You don’t need GIPHY CAM.

Memes are everywhere. In pictures, gif and video form, they are like a comedic plague taking the internet over. Companies even hold contests for an audience to generate the best memes that would market their company and its products best. But in reality, we mostly use memes for comments and random funny posts and nothing else.

GIPHY CAM is the thing to help you make your own gif memes. I love me some gifs, watching an endless “facepalm” or person falling down an escalator is the whip cream on my internet ice-cream sunday. This app is actually really easy to make gifs and upload it to certain things like Facebook messenger and Instagram, but as for using it in a comment, it’ll be a little more work.

As for the App’s features, it does have a pretty good variety, the only problem is that I would never see any reason to use 90% of them unless I’m undergoing severe boredom. Also, most gifs found online are longer videos with a specific perfect moment captured and cut to make a point, and so it is harder to use on a more practical basis of a point and shoot gif maker. The effects are unfortunately very specific, with a number of things from the Angry Birds Movie and Keanu (comedic cat movie) which are fun, but very specific and become more annoying than entertaining. Lastly, you can’t take other videos you’ve made earlier and cut them up into gifs on the app, which is very limiting.

The verdict? GIPHY CAM is fun and silly, but doesn’t really deserve the storage space on your phone when Snapchat and your normal camera features can so much already. If you’re really bored, you can have fun with it, but I wouldn’t even bother and just check out the newest Snapchat filters.


April 13, 2016 12:23 pm

This generation seems to be completely obsessed with themselves. By default, our apps are ready to shamelessly show off the Screenshot_2016-04-13-12-07-19most intimate parts of ourselves, including our bodies. One app in particular though seems to bring a little of the shame and a touch of honesty into our over-shared little world.

Shorts is an app created in order to bring you even closer to your friends, by sharing even more of yourself. The goal of Shorts, according to its creator Paul Davison, is to get people to not share only the parts of them that they want public, but every part of them. Shorts aims to give your online persona a little more modesty. People can now get a look into your entire camera roll.

Now if you’re a reserved, grumpy piece of shit like me (who is kind of over this whole social media crap) you might be thinking, “oh great, another useless app.” If you are thinking that, you are totally right.

Although Shorts differentiates itself by trying to be more transparent, isn’t there enough of you out there already? Be it the glossed up you or not, do you really want more of you out in the internet? Even though it might be a great idea, it isn’t one that will catch on. Those that are private individuals will find it to be invasive, and the less private ones might find it to be damaging. If you are a person who is really into these apps, you probably take into consideration your online persona. Why would you want people seeing the 75 other pictures you took of yourself while trying to choose the “perfect selfie”?

Sometimes I take a look at all of the apps that I have on my phone, and I admittedly get a little overwhelmed. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are these media machines where you give them your precious and valuable time and they offer public scrutiny in return. Now do you really want another one of these? Worst of all, one that has no intention of allowing yourself to look good? I’ll stick with my Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter and Vine thank you very much.

February 16, 2016 8:20 pm

As an avid user of Snapchat and of their extremely dumb (albeit fun) filters, I was extremely excited when I heard about Masquerade, or MSQRD.

MSQRD joins the plethora of apps like Tumblr and Grindr to cut vowels out of their name in order to shorten them, because in our ADD addled world, we don’t have time to spell out a full word.

MSQRD is an app that uses the face swapping software in order to put more accurate filters that are very entertaining. MSQRD has a filter that allows you to look like Leonardo DiCaprio, and who doesn’t want to look like Leo? The app allows for a better snapchat-ey filter experience. At least that’s what the jargon on their page will make you believe. Whether you do or don’t, the app is entertaining as hell, that is if you can acquire it.

MSQRD like many other apps has excluded me for having an android… I know, I know it is easier to put apps on the app store first. I just don’t think it’s a viable business option. Wait until you can do that on all phones or don’t do it at all.

I know I say that as a bitter android user, but c’mon. IPhones? Why? They all look the same. I was on the subway the other day and a phone rang, it was an IPhone, I know because they all have that same fucking ringtone. I shit you not, about 12 people went crazy rummaging through their oversized coats and bags until one found the ringing phone among the dozen.

Anyway. After ranting among myself and whoever was around to hear that (my cat) I was able to get back on task. The MSQRD app manages to pull off the Snapchat’s filter trick and enhance it by offering you a broader variety with a quality that is unarguably better than Snapchat’s. The app is one which you can find comfort in and use in a very entertaining way. Cara Delevingne has posted several videos on her Instagram using the app herself, so if you have any  question as to the quality of the app, go and check her out.

Download MSQRD at the app store and for all of you Android users like myself, be on the lookout for a Play Store release. We’ll get one soon, hopefuly, if not then we riot.