Tag: Social Media

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.


Wedding Blog Continued — How social media expands the mental frame

Last week I posted “The Marriage Blog: I put a ring on it,” and to date it’s my most successful blog post. I credit my beautiful wife for being such a great model. And today, I was going to write a post on my first trip to Las Vegas — which I’m still planning on for later this week — but my friend, fellow writer, and former colleague, Tania Cepero Lopez, helped me realize that I wasn’t finished with “The Marriage Blog.” I still had ideas I was leaving on the table, so I decided to push myself further.


Tania is a professor at Florida International University, and she teaches writing. If I dare, then I might also call her a rhetorician — a scholar. She is interested in the way we communicate, and she was particularly drawn to my post because of my questions posed on the way social media will help us remember. Check out her piece here: The Rhetorical Writer. In her post, Tania writes:

[Joe] identifies a problem: the way we remember is changing because our memory artifacts are changing. He’s concerned by this change and feels like it needs further attention, further exploration. Whether this change is good or bad is another story, a question he has not explored yet.

In a sense, Tania did me a huge favor; she analyzed my thoughts, broke down my writing, and, in a very admirable way, showed me where I stopped, where I could keep going, where my mind was wandering. If it wasn’t for her post, then I would have just moved on.



Oh yeah!!!

So now I must confront the question: Are these new ways of recording our lives — Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Google+, etc — good or bad? How are these social platforms changing the way we remember, and is it changing the way we, then, perceive our world? Woah, I just got wicked nerdy…lol.

Let me put it this way: On my wedding day, I knew I was going to have a gigantic challenge — staying in the moment. One of the hardest aspects of my life is staying in the present, not future tripping. On that day I knew I had to be aware of my world, be aware of the first time I kissed Heron as my wife, be able to smell the flowers as my cousin tossed them onto the floor, be able to feel how cold Heron’s skin was as we stood outside taking pictures in the freezing cold, be able to hear the guitar player strumming the melody of “Here Comes the Sun” as I walk back down the aisle. And I tried my hardest to capture those small details, those incredible small features of our world, and ingrain them into my memory so deeply that my vision of the past would be fuller.

That’s what I really want, and maybe what most of us want, is a full vision of who we were, once were, where we once were, in order to understand who we are now and in the future.

Now back to the original question: Are these social-media platforms good or bad? Well, the answer is obvious; it’s good. Tania points out that a result of being so connected is a faster exchange of ideas — in turn a growth in innovation. That’s an awesome point. Our blog posts are a microcosm of that effect.

So now I’m going to branch off from her idea a bit. All these social-media platforms are incredible for, yes, the freaking human being, because it expands our vision of the world; it expands the angles from which we can remember; it grows the perspective from which we can see.

Let me explain, dear reader. (Have I told you how much I love that you’re reading my blog?) Take a look at some of the pictures below. When I was dancing with Heron during our first dance, I was telling her, “Don’t look at anyone else. Look at me. No one else is here. This is our moment. Let’s be in the moment together.” Unfortunately, what I told Heron was a lie; we couldn’t be fully in the moment. No matter how hard we tried.

First Dance

Waiting to Come Inside


First Dance 2

And anyway our moment, staring at each other, was only a small part of the larger one — our family, the music, the sun setting over the marsh in the background, the position of the DJ, the crowd watching from behind. Because all our friends were there with their phones, recording the whole event, Heron and I now have a much fuller vision of our day. I can almost pop into different perspectives to see how the world, our world, looked for someone else. Then I blend it all together.

But wait, then what the hell happens to my memory? Does it become a collection of all of our memories? A collective memory? Social media as a collective memory?

Well, that’s a nice thought, but even with social media, we can’t capture all the stories — though it’s nice to think we can try. And at the most fundamental level, social media is giving us a fuller vision of our lives, a more advanced engine to remember our loved ones in ways previous generations never thought possible.

The Marriage Blog: I put a ring on it

La Bella Imagery: Megan LeeAnn Doyle

So I’m married…and I’m a writer. Some said it couldn’t be done. Others said it was a myth. But yes, I am a writer, slaving away at night and working a demanding job during the day…and I’m married.

When I was younger — let’s say around college — I wanted to transform my life into the image of what I imagined a writer to be. Think of Hemingway wandering through the streets of Paris, perusing the women like he later hunted Kudu in Kenya. Or Jack Kerouac, hopping on freight trains and shacking up with random women who lived in everything from adobe to train stations. A writer needed to know how to live. As for marriage, that wasn’t living.

Peto's Pic

Shortly after developing this idea of a writer, I remember I went through a huge philosophy phase; I read Nietzsche, Rousseau and Plato instead of going out and hanging with my friends. It was wonderful to open myself up to ideas, and I soaked up every line, branding their messages into my DNA…until one philosopher just rubbed me the wrong way.

His name was Schopenhauer. I wanted to read him, because Nietzsche kept alluding to him; so I figured, well, Nietzsche isn’t god, but he killed him: probably should listen. When I started to read, I was instantly turned off, because Schopenhauer kept telling me that if I wanted to find truth, understanding and knowledge, well, then I should just give up everything…especially love.

Love was a distraction. Love was evil. Love was an opium that deluded me from truth and understanding and life…really?

Sadly, for a time in my life, I believed that to be the case. That was before I understood what love actually was. That was before I understood that, for me, being a writer was forever attached to commitment and loyalty. That was before I saw my bride walk down the aisle for the first time — before I said my vows and made an eternal promise — before I walked away a changed man.

It’s funny how much I’ve changed on the idea of marriage, but it really comes down to finding the right person. I remember the day I realized I wanted to marry Heron. I was riding a bike with fellow FIU writer Nick Vagnoni, Pete B and David J. Gonzalez, the creator of Cabinet Beer Baseball Club, along the intercostal in North Miami Beach. Suddenly, it just hit me: I had found someone forever. Literally, I took my hands off the handler bar and screamed at the top of my lungs: “I’m going to marry her. I’m going to marry her.” Since that moment, I never looked back.

Planning the Wedding Isn’t Easy…But It’s Worth It

If you’re someone coming to my site, because you’re planning a wedding, then let me tell you this: the planning gets crazy a few weeks before the wedding. Maybe that seems obvious. But what’s really wild is the variable you can’t plan. For example, you might not have food like you planned; you might have under budgeted; you might not be able to find a band; you might find that your wedding venue has been overbooked. So just remember, in the end, it will all work out. It’s worth the effort.

But how will you capture the day of events? How will you remember them?

Of course, you’ll need a photographer for professional photos, but what I found to be one of the best experiences, so far, is that all of our friends and family started to share their personal photos on social media, especially Facebook. I loved seeing my friends’ shots, and it was instant access for me to relive the memories.

Social Media and the Wedding

At one point, I was looking at the photos that were posted on Facebook from our wedding, and I started to think about what was going to happen to all these photos. Should I save them or print them out and put them in a box somewhere forever? Should I save all the files in my iCloud? And how would these photos age? Could they be just like the portraits from my grandparents or would they stay on the internet always as timeless pendants of a long time ago? While digital photos won’t erode, they will still age, right?

It’s weird to think about how my grandchildren will look at my wedding. It’s going to be completely different from my parents and especially my grandparents. Just think about the way social media is influencing our lives and changing the we way record it. How will my grandchildren interact with this vine taken by my good friend Clayton Dean?

Remember, Stay in the Moment…Though It’s Impossible

Yes, social media is changing the way we reflect upon our memories, but that shouldn’t give us an excuse to not live in the moment…to be tweeting about a wedding while it was happening. And being present while your family is pulling you seven which ways and talking to uncles — though awesome — makes it impossible to remember to be in the there, in the zone, with your loved one. It’s essential to take those opportunities and allow those moments to surprise you and just take in the event…it might even happen after the wedding. Look for the small details.

Let me tell you about one of those moments I will never forget. Heron and I were flying back to Los Angeles, and we stopped in the Atlanta airport to hop on our connection to LAX. Heron and I had a couple of drinks, and we were laughing and smiling and being generally in love as we moved throughout that monstrous airport in Georgia. Well, I had been carrying a picture of my grandparents in my jacket pocket, and when Heron wasn’t looking at me, I would sneak glances at the photo.


Everything I know about love — I’m talking about commitment and ideology here — comes from my grandparents, Eleanor and Raymond Cain. They went through so much together in their 55 years of marriage. And they loved each other until the day they died. They couldn’t be there at our wedding, but they were there with me in everything I said and thought.

They were on my mind when Heron stepped into a store, and I took out the photo and started staring at them on their wedding day. They looked so happy and young and alive. That’s when I heard a voice.

“What’s that you looking at?” a voice asked.

I turned around, and it was a janitor who was cleaning one of the bathrooms.

“It’s my grandparents,” I said. “I was just married.”

And in that moment, talking with a janitor outside of a bathroom in the Atlanta airport, the moment really hit me. It was true. It was real. It will be a moment I’m always trying to recapture.