By Kimmy Sullivan ’15

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could send your friends an embarrassing picture without worrying about it resurfacing later? What if you could snap a shot, send it, and after a few seconds it would just… disappear? Looks like the joke’s on us—our friends over in the app-developing world were a few steps ahead. This is 2014, kids, and we live in the world of Starbucks, Jennifer Lawrence, and of course, Snapchat.

It’s revolutionary! You have the power to take a picture of virtually anything, and with the tap of a few buttons, your picture—as if by magic—appears on the screen of your chosen recipient. And for what you can’t manage to capture in a photo, there’s space for a short message and a rainbow of colors for doodling whatever your imagination can conjure up. It’s insanely entertaining, and often much more fun than texting, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

We’ve all seen it: a girl ambles down the math hallway, iPhone in hand. She takes a cautious glance in all directions, and when she’s sure the coast is clear, she whips out a peace sign and flashes a huge grin at her screen. Most of us judge these people pretty hard. But if we set our egos aside for a moment, we can probably all remember a time when we’ve been caught in the act. The key to successful public Snapchatting? Don’t get caught.

Of course, it’s important to avoid the stereotypical snafus. 99 percent of mirror pictures look awkward—it’s practically impossible not to look awkward while posing alone in a public restroom (bonus points for toilets in the background!). As for screenshotting, make sure you know the person relatively well so you don’t seem too sketchy. And sending the wrong person a snap— well, it’s best to avoid this altogether. Otherwise you have to deal with sending that uncomfortable “Sorry, wrong person!” snap and hoping it arrives before they can take the misplaced snap to heart.

Perhaps the most problematic aspect of Snapchat is the notorious “read receipt.” Whoever came up with this concept in the first place was just looking to stir the drama pot among already hormonal and hypersensitive teens. Realizing that your snap was opened three hours ago and still having received no response introduces a plethora of thoughts and most likely false conclusions. It’s important to remember that the people you’re Snapchatting aren’t sitting around staring at their phone screens waiting solely for your snaps to arrive (at least, let’s hope not). This being said, expecting an immediate response will get you nowhere.

On the receiving end, the same applies; you don’t have to respond to every single snap you receive, but it’s nice to reply every once in a while. The name of the app is, after all, Snapchat, not snap-receive-pictures-and-never-reply.

Whatever your reason for snapping, it’s all for fun, of course. But if you maintain these reminders, you might save yourself from looking like a Snapchat buffoon.