One of my objectives in life is to NEVER be one of those old farts that casually criticizes the younger generations for their overall lifestyle and choices…be it music, clothing, trends -all of it- as in, “The damn kids today know nothing about respect and hard work,” or something along the lines of, “They call that shit today music? Really? In my day music was music.”

Ugh. I really never want to be that guy…and it is so easy to be.

In order not to fall victim to this “old fart” mentality, it requires that we make proactive choices to seek, experience and understand where the younger generations are coming from and why. If we do not mind becoming old judgmental codgers, we can just sit back and do nothing -as it will happen all on its own- that is just how our brains function. However, as a college educator, it is particularly imperative for me to constantly explore opportunities to engage with youth culture and seek to understand it…perhaps now more than ever in the age of technology.

As a result of this lifestyle choice, both my Sirius and conventional radio preset buttons include both contemporary rap, hip-hop and pop in addition to my “70’s at 7” and class rock choices. It is not all unusual to for me to listen to Van Halen’s “Eruption” one minute and Drake’s “Hotline Bling” the next. I even mix in a little classical and chill music on occasion.

However, perhaps the biggest eye-opening choice I have recently made was securing the app Snapchat, where participants can send videos and pictures to their “friends” that last about 7 seconds and then disappear into the internet ether. If I understand correctly (my youngest son Stevie is my source for this information), Snapchat was at first very much used for “sexting” and carried the nickname, “Dickchat.”


Not so much anymore. I have now had Snapchat for about 2 months and have a yet to see, fortunately, a penis nor, unfortunately, a titty or two. What I do see are short snippets of people’s everyday life, including everything from, say, a video of them in the car lip syncing to a song, pictures of their cute kittens, or, perhaps, just everyday boring life stuff like eating or shopping –usually posted in a humorous and lighthearted manner with entertaining and creative captions, not to mention special effects.

I must admit that at first I was very put off by Snapchat. Why? In short, it appeared to be a social media that was incapable of mediating any relevant content. It was all superficial, silly, time wasting, entertainment…it actually even depressed me at first thinking, “This is what today’s generation spends its time doing?” Yet, as one committed to my anti-old codger philosophy, I not only chose to keep it but try to engage with it on a regular basis.

Now, a month or so later, I actually have a lot of fun using it.  It does not take a lot of time or energy to engage with it…you can actually snap several times a day and it probably does not take more than a minute or two of the day, at least for me.

I have come to realize that every generation has its specific form of entertainment. When I was 19 I used to go to my favorite arcade, Pinball Plus, and spend hours playing video games. If people want to spend their recreational time sending pics of, well, really nothing, what is the harm? When I was that age I was electronically trying to maneuver out of the way of falling barrels chucked by a large gorilla called Donkey Kong. In comparison, Snapchat is for Mensa members.

Why was I so judgmental of it at first? Because I, like most humans, have a very difficult time with change and adapting to trends that are not truly understood. At times we have to force ourselves to engage in things that are well outside our comfort zone and previous “normal” experiences –it’s called growth and expansion while our brains crave it.

I am a huge fan of recreation and entertainment. I believe escaping from the monotony of our everyday lives is a good thing. I tend to get critical of entertainment (ala Neal Postman) when areas of culture that demand serious conversations, devolve into entertainment…be it the news, education, religion, or, thank you Donald Trump, politics.

But bullshit entertainment? I love it…we need it.

I hardly think anyone is mistaking Snapchat for serious cultural conversation. It is banal, silly entertainment that is mildly amusing and there is nothing wrong with that and, in fact, there may be something very right about it. Our college Dean, Rick, just recently sent me a study from the University of Michigan that suggests Snapchatting actually makes one happy.

I also believe the vast popularity of Snapchat among youth does point to some deeper, underlying cultural trends that are quite revealing. What does the appeal of vapid content -content that is there one second and is permanently gone the next- say about the hugely transient and quickly evolving nature of our collective cultural experiences due to technology? What does the appeal of sharing flippant experiences of our everyday life say about our need to connect with others -even in our most mundane moments?  What does it say about human nature that we like to peek into the details of others’ lives? The human being needs to be relevant, seen, heard, and valued with the larger community –a basic human need that has never changed. Perhaps Snapchat is a simple, lighthearted way to partially fill this gap in our lives.

So there you have it from by FAR the oldest person on Snapchat. Hit me up people…my screen name is jimmyu…snap with me ya’ll.

And, regardless of your age (old codger philosophy knows no age) dare to take a step away from an old fart mentality -it can actually be kinda fun.





  1. Yet another great post! My dad had the same idea and I keep telling him to use it. Most of the time it’s hilarious!

  2. I’m all for stepping outside my comfort zone…….but I have enough damn apps to keep track of…. do I really need to see a few seconds of someone’s life? Can’t they just send me a little video? I’ve had enough people tell me to sign up, you’ll love it…… many are the same people that insisted I would LOVE Instagram…..but the vast majority of people that have Instagram, are also on Facebook…… so now I feel obligated to “like” their posts twice — because everyone posts the same damn stuff in both places (guilty)…..yet, I loathe redundancy (go figure) …. Do I really need Snapchat? I don’t think so…….. and I don’t think that makes me an old codger — at least not yet. :p

    • Whether you do Snapchat or not is NOT the issue. Rather, challenging yourself to do new and unusual things and keep your brain developing is the point. If not Snapchat, try something else!

      • I don’t see what’s new or unusual about it…. you can post the same things on instagram or facebook….only difference is they supposedly disappear…… for me there’s no challenge…. I’m holding out for something really different…
        you be safe snapping, ya hear??

        • BAABBAAA…it is actually very different. Hugely different. But I guess you will never know cause you do not proactively seek different experiences.;)

  3. welcome to snapchat. This is the only social media I use and it is fun and entertaining. Does anyone care that I take a video or picture of my food and post it on snapchat? probably not. Does anyone really care about what I post throughout my day? probably not. but it’s just entertaining and gets your mind off things for a bit. What I and I sure hope other people on social media understand is snapchatting while driving. Will anyone care if I take a video of the road I’m driving on WHILE I’M DRIVING and post it? probably not but it is entertaining. The problem is, that even though these apps are great for keeping in touch and like I said entertainment. What people need to realize is that entertaining and all we should be aware that we still need to be safe about it. If I post a video or a picture while I;m driving and have a car accident or cause another driver to get in an accident will anyone care? Ya dam right! Be responsible peeps. Snap it safe.

      • To everyone that does it. I’ve seen the consequences it can cause and it’s just not worth it. I just can’t seen to get the point across to people. My sister and close friends do it all the time and it’s just a scary thing. Peace -n-love.

  4. I was hoping to find something to argue about regarding this post, but my mom and I both read it and we couldn’t agree more. By the way, my mom is *almost* your age, and she is on snapchat 🙂

  5. Professor! Really enjoyed the first day of class yesterday and also enjoying the blog! Really glad I checked it out. Can’t really argue with you on the fact that Snapchat is quite different from all other forms of social media (and is the best in my opinion). I was once a user of the dominant social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but have since deleted them because I felt as if I kept seeing the same posts from different people and it became annoying to me. Although there are “individuals” on these social media platforms, I feel as if everyone presents themselves and their posts in the same matter to gain more “likes”, “shares”, “retweets”, “friends”, and “followers”. I believe these platforms promote their users to conform to the newest and greatest trends to feel apart of the community. For example when Kylie Jenner got lip plumping injections millions of men and women stuck their lips in a cup and created suction for a certain duration of time to make their lips look like Kylie’s and posted it all over Instagram. I think this trend was extremely stupid because many people ended up with bruised lips and some even had to make visits to the hospital. Similar trends can be found on Facebook and Twitter mostly in offensive text form. I personally can not stand how these social media platforms entice people to post in such an idiotic way to be “trendy”. Many people have lost their jobs because of arrogant and offensive posts on social media. The reason I prefer Snapchat is because it is more personal as you pointed out in your post. You add your friends on Snapchat and you get to see the either amusing or boring things they post from day to day. The posts are just their everyday life that they live, not some picture pose or hashtag that is trending right now. My generation has definitely fallen victim to the pop culture “trends” of today and that is something I hope to continue to stray away from. Not all of my generation is the same by the way! I have a few friends that I can sit down and listen to the classics with like Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Supertramp, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton etc. It’s always good to abandon the common Beyonce and Drake tunes and escape to some better decades.

    • Thanks Zach. I believe each form of social media plays an entirely different function…and depending on which function you value the most, so will each form of social media be evaluated and judged. I really wish you were in my Communication Studies 178 course (it is not too late to join! It meets Thursdays from 10-1 and this upcoming Wednesday is the deadline to add) where we talk all about these types of issues. I really appreciate your thoughts!

  6. I would disagree with the thoughts you have of the app “Snapchat”. My experience with it was when a couple of friends told me to download it because they all had it, so I did. I found it to be a very unuseful app, and im in my 20’s lol. I would hardly ever snap and would only open the snaps on my friend’s stories. I ended up deleting it because it had no use to me. I think snapchat is a “distractor app” meaning that it only distracts you when you have nothing else to do or your practically bored. I find facebook and instagram more usesful to connect with friends and more fun to use. If you have the same friends on facebook, snapchat and instagram you practically see the same thing on all 3 apps! I have seen it myself, I open up snapchat then go on facebook and instagram and see the screen shot of that person’s snap or the video I just saw on their snapchat. Like really, is it that necessary? I have also read online that snapchat is not secure with privacy. You may think that once the snap dissapears in 24 hours it is gone, but once something is posted online it is public! Even if the picture dissappears in a matter of seconds. In a recent study conducted by the University of Washington, over 14% of teens said they were confident that expired messages/photos could never be recovered. In reality, however, someone with technical expertise is likely to be able to recover photos long after they have disappeared from a recipient’s screen. I got this information from regarding snapchat. That scared me once I read that information. Do your reasearch proffesor, go online and type “Why you should delete snapchat”, there is actually facts on why it should be deleted. Im not against adults trying out new modern apps, but some of these apps are not safe anymore and parents should do their research before letting their kids download any app they want. A recent study also found that snapchat made young adults in a relationship more jealous than even facebook. Users are well aware that getting away with cheating is rather easy on snapchat, so it makes partners jealous, insecure and even paranoid. Another thing about snapchat’s “privacy” is that the FCC guarantees that a text is more private than a snap. Why? because it is a private exchange between two devices and it takes a seach warrant to access your texts. On the other hand with snapchat, you are willingly sharing something over a network that is not secure and you are not protected legally from them revealing all your messages and photos down the road. When one agrees to their terms and services, you agree that all of your data is theirs and that they can do whatever they want with it. Scary right? Just a little insight about the so called SNAPCHAT app.

    • Thank you Karina! I can totally see your point. Yet if you do not post things you do not mind the world seeing, what is the problem? I do not care the least about privacy because I would never post anything I would be uncomfortable with the world viewing. I completely agree that, for the most part, it is a meaningless nothing of an app. Though my point was that we have always had “meaningless nothing” activities we engage in for fun…in my day it was Pacman, before that is was disco dancing, before that it was shooting baskets alone in my backyard. Sometimes meaningless nothing activities are a nice break from the stress of the real world. Excuse me….but I’ve got some snappin to do!

  7. Hello Jimmy! I really dont have much to argue about here! I Personally dont have a snap and was laughing how you described it of you’re being a judgmental elder. That is how I feel. I have enough social sites how many more do we really need. If we only fiend for the likes loves and attention from people who really dont matter, we can honestly never LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT with our LOVED ones or experiences i feel. Nothing is ever enough & something out there is always better. Yes in some ways that might be true but not with social media in my opinion. Its a very bad distraction at times.
    Thanks for the great class see you around!!

  8. I still have not secured a Snapchat account. You brought it up in conversation during the first day of class (or was it the second day?). I had mentioned that I have hesitated to get a Snapchat account because of its nefarious reputation as the social media of perverts. As your son Stevie pointed out to you (Dickchat). My backstory: at work Snapchat came up in conversation and the conclusion was that if you wanted to Snapchat you were a pervert looking for a cheap thrill. Even my supervisor thought so; with calculated Facework I quickly distanced myself from Snapchat and anyone using it. As the popularity of Snapchat grew with people I knew (none of whom are known perverts) I put in the back of my mind that I may, perhaps, utilize Snapchat in the future, so long as the stigma that came with it had subsided. When my college Professor (Jimmy) openly used it as an efficient means of communication with his students, Snapchat was normalized in my head.

    Although I am willing to join the cause and utilize Snapchat to keep in contact with my children, my wife, relatives, and associates I’d argue that your statement “Not so much anymore,” is a bit preemptive. Perverts are a loud minority in the Snapchat population and help create an overall negative stereotype for everybody else. I just Googled “Snapchat,” one of the Top 5 search results was a headline dated “9 hours ago” from May 22, 2016 at 9:45pm reads “Teen girl, 2 dozen male students allegedly film sex acts in bathroom, post video on Snapchat,” the negative image of “Dickchat” and its perverted Netizens prevails. I blame the 25 males (and their parents/guardians) and sympathize with girl even if she considers herself as a willing participant.

    You say that Snapchat does nothing more than fulfill some need or fill a gap in our lives, and provides entertainment. Certainly it is true that we all do have the need, as you say it, “to be relevant, seen, heard, and valued with the larger community,” but I’d like to point out the obvious (at least should be) utilitarian value of Snapchat. A student can text you “late due to bad accident on the freeway,” or even take a photo of a sea of brake lights in front of them, but how much more real and therefore valid would a video showing the “truth” of their dilemma?

    I’m sure Snapchat is fun and entertaining but for working professionals who have to save “Face” because if they don’t they may encounter a hostile work environment and worst case scenario be terminated for “conduct unbecoming,” the stigma of “Dickchat” is a deterrent. Which is unfortunate because it could be a convenient and powerful tool in convincing supervisors (or professors) of the truth in circumstances beyond control. Like I observed, you (Jimmy) used it as an efficient means of communication with his students.

  9. Jimmy Hello! I would like to bring up a point you made about snapchat making you depressed at first because you were like “thats what kids do these days for entertainment.” Well, i would argue that what activities you participated in during your adolescence, had older people feeling the same way that you feel about snapchat. What do you think? My father used to spend alot of time in arcades growing up and he said the older generation would always bash kids spending hours and a handful of change in these arcades. I feel like our phones are like a big arcade room and the apps we have are the different machines inside the arcade. Its the same thing just different level of technology. This is a reoccuring cycle that will happen forever. One day What are your thoughts on this? Or have we just reached a point in time where how we entertain ourselves has reached a point of no return?
    -Cristian Rojas
    p.s Gonna miss you Jimmy!

  10. Jimmy,

    I respect you for wanting to avoid the whole being an “old fart” thing, and I wish more people would try to refrain from harsh judgments toward the younger generations by trying to understand them more. I also wish that the younger generations would do the same for the elder. With that said, there was one thing that you wrote that I cannot help but disagree with.

    You wrote as follows in this post: “If we do not mind becoming old judgmental codgers, we can just sit back and do nothing -as it will happen all on its own- that is just how our brains function.” I feel like this is a completely subjective comment and that there is no valid proof that the way our brains function will immediately turn them to become the “old fart” that you discuss. Also, might you just think that perhaps sitting back and doing nothing will keep an older person from being that way towards others because maybe they just really don’t care what others do? I understand that you might think it is a good thing for older people to be aware about what the younger generations are up to, but by them not caring, that does not mean that they are an old fart. I do not think that anyone has the right to say or assume that it will happen on its own, as really it can depend on the person and their beliefs, or where they came from or what their life is like currently.

    It is no one’s right to make such assumptions, and it is certainly not right to point fingers toward those who are aging as well as you are and who are not engaging in current things such as Snapchat.

    • Thanks Carrie…I have been in Europe and have not logged into the site in several weeks, thus the delayed response. I appreciate your response! Without getting into too much detail, that comment was primarily derived from the work Dr. Rita Smilkstein (you can google her…she is a FASCINATING woman) who has many books on the brain and learning. She discusses neural pathways getting into “ruts” and the great need to create new dendrites as we age…this is primarily accomplished through learning new things, trying new things, and continually challenging these neural ruts. Of course this does not have to be Snapchat…it could be literally any one of thousands of new endeavors. So I could definitely make a neural argument to support the trying and learning of new things as one of the brain healthiest activities one could possibly do. Of course she does not use the term “old fart” but she can borrow it from me if she wants!

  11. I thank you for putting in the time and effort to put yourself in our generation’s shoes to understand our form of entertainment and socializing with others. I actually got my parents to start using snapchat a couple months ago and now it consists of them sending me updates about what they are doing at the time of the snap. I might have gotten them a bit too attached to it because now they bombard me with their “art” that they create on snapchat.

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