July 9, 2015
A Tale of Two SnapChat Stories:Tel Aviv and The West Bank
by RULA AL-NASRAWI
I've been told that a picture is worth a thousand words. In that case, a SnapChat story must be worth an entire novel.
We as a people get dangerously high from instant gratification. A swipe of the finger can get you laid and a flick of the wrist can get your groceries delivered to your door. With that same ease, a quick little tap on a screen can take you to worlds you’ve only dreamed of through a little app you may have heard of called SnapChat. Worlds that range from a livestream of the female anatomy to the depths of the Puerto Rican rainforest.
On July 7, SnapChat released a stream of the Tel Aviv story. For those of you who have yet to jump on the PCP binge that is the SnapChat train, a SnapChat story contains a series of shorter snaps throughout the day, the entire story lasts for 24 hours and then quickly disappears into oblivion. A SnapChat story is a quick little voyeuristic glimpse into someone else’s life. Except that someone has selectively curated that life for you, so you don’t see them sitting around looking like garbage picking their wedgies.
Who knew that SnapChat would go from the number one pixelated nudes platform to a new means of Middle Eastern diplomacy? Certainly not me.
The Tel Aviv story featured different moments of life in Israel, the videos draped in rainbow clip art letters screaming “TEL AVIV LIFE.” Clips of sunkissed Israelis surfing , parasailing and turning up on the dance floor flooded the stream. I watched the whole thing and honestly, Tel Aviv looks like a little slice of heaven in a pita. There was one problem. The people of the West Bank didn’t see Tel Aviv as that same slice of pita wrapped heavenly goodness. Twitter blew up yesterday with angry Palestinians stating that the Tel Aviv story, while lovely, was not an accurate depiction of life there. At least on the Palestinian end.
The Palestinians asked to tell their own story and they got it. Earlier this morning, the West Bank story appeared on the SnapChat feed, prompting hundreds of thrilled tweets from across the board. The West Bank story was curated in the same rose colored fashion as Tel Aviv's, providing all positive imagery with little to no commentary on the ever constant conflict between the two communities.
I watched both stories, and was instantly aware of how similar they both were. Both stories showed people playing with puppies, dancing, and soaking in the sun. Both stories lacked that element of turmoil that is so vital to both histories. But maybe that was for the best. Maybe SnapChat’s curation was geared towards shedding some light on how similar people can be regardless of the differences they create for themselves. How almost everyone loves a good selfie and how most people will surely photograph their lunch whether we want them to or not.
After 24 hours, every SnapChat story is gone, erased from the app forever. Unless you wish to save a piece of your own story, your little masterpiece will be completely wiped out almost like it didn't exist in the first place. While Israel and Palestine’s 24 hours of salt stained curls, grassy fields, and street markets will not last, their own personal conflict will continue to carry on as it always has, like the Earth on its axis or a skinned lamb rotating on a skewer. That slow rotation which may or may not end up burning both pieces of one land to a crisp. One snap from the Tel Aviv story shows a quick camera pan with the words PEACE splayed out on the screen in all white. It's a picture that many people on either side hope to see more of. We can only think back to these short 5 second snaps of what we want that picture to look like all the time.