Month: June 2016

Why I Finally Decided to Join Snapchat–and You Should Too

At the beginning of 2016, I read an incredible piece by Joanna Stern, a Wall Street Journal reporter, on why Snapchat was about to have a “Facebook” moment–a term she used to describe a social network when it reaches a massive audience and becomes a part of the collective conciousness–and she encouraged people 30 and over to join a network known for being used mainly by tweens. The article really struck a chord with me, because she offered the first real reason why I should join Snapchat. She said Facebook was for major life updates; Twitter was for keeping up with live events and news; and Shapchat, well, “is for bearing witness—telling stories in raw, often humorous, behind-the-scenes clips or messages.” As someone who has built a career and creative life on the ability to tell stories, I jumped at the idea of seeing Snapchat as a medium for my storytelling–a way for me to easily use videos and focus on sharing my personal journey in a new and innovative way…an almost extension of my blog.

Of course, I didn’t think that way at first. Like most people my age, I initially thought Snapchat was for dick-pics and bored tweens who wanted to send photos of their lunch like it was a freaking Joseph Sudek photo.

Joseph Sudek Photo
Joseph Sudek

I thought Snapchat was another form of social media that would pull me away from the real world and further apart from my own creative life. I thought it would further pull me out of the moment and into a matrix of likes and retweets, entangling my conciousness in a rabbit-hole obsession with my analytics. But I have actually found several reasons why joining Snapchat was a great idea, and I think every single person who has a smart phone should join the social platform, especially if you work in a creative field. See my reasons below.

4. Snapchat is Changing Storytelling

I work in a creative field and tell stories in many different forms–marketing, journalism, public relations, podcasts, blogs, and fiction–but I also tell stories in a social setting as well–stories at a bar to friends or just through social media. Using Twitter, Facebook, or even this blog is a form of storytelling. But Snapchat’s stories are unique in the sense that I can tell the story of my day through video and photos in a format that is easy, quick, and immediate. I have often tried to enter into video, but I have failed because I’m too big of a perfectionist. I want the video to be so top notch that I refuse to send it out into the world. But with Snapchat, I don’t have to worry about any of that. It’s all shot on your phone, so it’s raw and straight from the moment. I love that ability to share stories that don’t have to be carefully constructed or edited.

3. Snapchat Discover is the Zeitgeist

The Open Road in the Western United States
Original photo, Joseph Lapin, somewhere on the open road

If you’re in the creative world and you rely on staying up-to-date with trends and cutting-edge content, then Snapchat Discover is essential. When you’re creating content that is designed to interact with the largest amount of people or land publications at some of the best publications in the country, it’s important to have an understanding of the zeitgeist–the spirit of the times–and know what news is breaking and what trends are popping off. Of course, Snapchat is not the only tool I use to ensure I’m tapped into the zeitgeist (I’m an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal and other publications), but watching the WSJ, CNN, ESPN, and BuzzFeed in the discover section really helps keep me in the know as much as possible. If you don’t believe there is value to the snap stories from a creative and professional perspective, then let  Bill Adair, Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University and the creator of PolitiFact, describe to you his experience with Snapchat:

After a week with Snapchat, I went back to the Times and the Post to see what I had missed. I found that the Discover providers had covered many of the same stories that got prominent play by the big papers. The Snapchat channels even had some good enterprise stories that explored politics and business news in some depth.

2. Stay Connected with Your Friends

I hate text messaging. It annoys me. I’m still the type of guy that would prefer to hop on a phone to talk with their friends, but I still have a hard time finding the energy or the time to jump on a call. I’m not entirely proud of my lack of effort toward my friends, but Snapchat bails me out. It’s so easy to send what you’re doing or a quick message to a friend you haven’t seen or heard from in a while. It’s an efficient and scalable way to maintain friendships with people, especially if you have moved around the country. For instance, I have a great buddy back home in Clinton, Massachusetts, and we’re not the type of guys to get on the phone and talk about our days. But almost every week, I receive a Snapchat from him, highlighting his new job site or what new trick his gigantic great dane figured out. Snapchat brings you into the room with your friend; it brings you into their day; it brings you closer than the carefully curated algorithm of Facebook.

1. Future of Broadcast Journalism

If you have ever seen the Snap Story “Good Luck America,” then you have seen the future of television and storytelling. The Snap Story is hosted by Peter Hamby, a former politics reporter for CNN and Snapchat’s head of news, and it exhibits how Snapchat is going to disrupt the very idea of how we watch “television,” and it provides us with news that is wired for the digital-media brain in a way that I don’t think I’ve experienced before. Of course, BuzzFeed started disrupting the story with the list and videos that are almost candy for the brain, but the way Hamby tells a complex story using cut aways, animation, and humor makes a lot of sense to my generation, and it feels like something that could have only come out of the Snapchat movement.


Follow me on Snapchat by taking a screenshot of the image above.


My Trip to America’s Most Extreme Haunted House, McKamey Manor

In the May/June 2016 of the Huck, a London-based magazine that is “refusing to be civilised since 2006,” released their new Freaked Out Issue, and I had a profile appear within the issue on McKamey Manor, America’s most extreme haunted house. As you’ll see in my piece, I drove out to Rancho Peñasquitos to talk with Russ McKamey and a group of actors who run McKamey Manor.


Before I went to visit the manor, I conducted some preliminary research, and the videos I saw of the haunt truly freaked me out. The videos showed Russ McKamey and his actors dunking their “guests” heads into toilet bowls, shaving their hair and making them eat it, and mentally torturing people to the point where they would break. If you’re brave enough (I’m not kidding; these videos are fucking crazy),  then you can check out their YouTube Channel. In his videos, Russ McKamey seems like a madman–someone who was only interested in sadism and torture, but when I actually went and visited McKamey Manor, I was able to talk to Russ, get to know him, and understand him a bit more. The way I learned to see Russ was more as an artist whose medium was fear.

Please give the issue a read to learn more about my experience at America’s most extreme haunted house. But just know that you might have nightmares. If you’re interested in reading more of my horror writing, then I suggest checking out my writing samples and reading my story, “The Castle on the Hill” — or learn how I ended up burying a body in my backyard when I first moved to San Diego.