Paula Kiger

When Snapchat Is Not As Temporary As Some Might Think

By: Paula Kiger | June 20, 2016 | 

When SnapChat is Not So Temporary

I did not sow many wild oats in high school.

One particular incident, though, is so ludicrous in retrospect that I still laugh every time I think about it.

When our church group held an all-night lock-in one December, we got the bright idea to move the church’s outdoor nativity set to the youth director’s yard.

He woke up the next morning with a front yard bedecked with baby Jesus and all the animals, along with a manger.

Let’s just say he didn’t consider it a blessing!

I suppose if social media had existed back in 1981, we would have shortsightedly created a trail for ourselves on Snapchat (or whatever the 1981 equivalent would have been).

But the truth was not discovered until Sunday morning, and our group of contrite teenagers had to hang our heads and ask forgiveness remorsefully.

Along with returning baby Jesus and the entire entourage of course!

My “nativity-on-the-move” hijinks occurred in a small enough town that it didn’t take a lot of detective work to find the culprits.

Snapchat is Here to Stay

A recent situation here in my not-so-small-town proved that social media can bring out small-town protectiveness in a large city, and ALSO showed the power of a business person to teach a lesson in forgiveness.

A friend who owns a lovely local eatery posted a screenshot of a Snapchat image—a picture of a young adult man carrying a sign which had been removed from her business, with a silly grin on his face.

The Snapchat account owner’s name was on the screenshot.

This small business owner is someone who we all know has worked extremely hard to build her business.

In addition to being an industrious and creative worker, she’s just a good person, who does good things such as Autism Cooks, which have nothing to do with dollars and cents, but everything to do with the currency of the heart.

We all wanted her to have her sign back.

She posted the screenshot with a status that said something such as, “It was probably funny at first but it is stealing. A hunting or fishing trophy would probably be more fun.”

Shares of the picture and requests for help solving the mystery spread rapidly; comments filled the business owner’s page as we all rallied around our friend to help her get a resolution.

The owner of the Snapchat account made her Twitter account private, which we figured meant she knew her involvement had been noted.

Everyone put out feelers to determine who it was who had taken the sign.

Within 24 hours, our friend posted that the sign was being returned the next day.

What was her plan?

Press charges?

Ban the kid from her restaurant forever?

Make him wash dishes?

Not at all.

She planned to take him to lunch and posted the following:

The sign is being brought back tomorrow.
I’m meeting him & buying him lunch.
I’m glad he’s doing the right thing.

Lessons on Snapchat, our youth needs to understand that their posts can go public at anytime. 

Don’t be sorry. Be careful. & Behave!

As I watched the whole situation unfold, it occurred to me there were lessons for more than kid with a purloined sign (although arguably he learned the biggest lesson).

Snapchat Life Lessons

There was a lesson for his friend who did what many of us (not just teenagers) reflexively do: Snapped a friend doing something silly.

Her choice made it much easier to narrow down the fate of the sign, but tangled her up in the web of social media perpetuity as her name was spread with every share.

But to me, one of the most profound lessons of the whole story is that of the business owner who, despite the drumbeat of many community members who were anxious for him to know he had “messed with the wrong business owner” (it’s true, he had), took the road of forgiveness and dignity.

Social media may be more permanent than the kid thought, but the most permanent thing of all is the high road, and in this story is a powerful reminder of why it matters.

image credit: shutterstock

About Paula Kiger

Paula Kiger believes her Twitter bio says it best: Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. She is a communications professional who provides writing, editing and social media services through Big Green Pen. She was the community manager for the Lead Change Group for two years. Paula has a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Systems from Florida State University. She is an active advocate for many causes, including access to immunizations for children worldwide.

  • One of the biggest takeaways from the situation was how the business owner crafted her response. Grace is in short supply these days, and her willingness to bestow it was laudable.

    • You beat me to it!! Yes — that is the part of this story that impacted me the most. It’s so easy to get riled up these days. And I feel like I am seeing it more and more online. It’s easy to get angry. It’s much harder to dig deep and find grace. There were MANY lessons learned here and I am so glad you took the time to share!

      • Happy to share. Definitely an important reminder for all of us.

  • Gini Dietrich

    I was DYING when I read this before publication. I don’t know what is more funny: The fact that you think stealing Jesus is sowing a few wild oats or the fact that you stole Jesus!

    • Um, yeah. “Mild oats” may be more like it!

  • One never knows when and how one may make a profound impact on another’s life. However, this business owner certainly created better odds to do so once she extended an invitation to lunch. She is a job creator and a people shaper.

    • What a great way to phrase it, Pete. She is ALL of that.

  • Laura Petrolino

    Wow….just wow. So impressive. What a great lesson to the kid and us all.

    And I agree with Gini….the Jesus story….HAHAHAHAHHA! OMG! Paula, I love you so much for that!

  • The Nativity Scene prank was hilarious. Sorry they had you ask for forgiveness, instead of rolling with the humor of the situation.
    But I love that the business owner of the purloined sign responded with grace! I’ve seen my 22 year old son post stuff he really shouldn’t, things that have already caused him at least one small real life issue. But what can you do? You hope they learn their lessons with the least pain possible, I guess.

    • Agree, Susan. For my daughter, there was so much social media craziness (and bullying) in middle school and into the freshman/sophomore years of high school that she’s a quite judicious social media user. (Also being in a sorority plays a factor – during “recruitment” (formerly known as rush) they have very specific rules (for example, they can’t “like” the instagram photo of a prospective pledge (i.e., pretty much any female freshman who *may* be going through recruitment). I think the rationale is so it doesn’t show favoritism but the effect is it makes them think before clicking — something we could ALL use a bit more of probably!

  • Corina Manea

    You know, I was actually picturing you “moving the church’s outdoor nativity.” LOL!

    I love how the business owner chose to give the kid a lesson. I am pretty sure he will remember and learn from it for many years to come.

    And there is a bigger lesson for all of us: Hate, revenge, etc are not the solution. Kindness is. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and trying to understand him or her is the way to do good around you.

    Thank you for a great lesson, Paula.

    • I simply love what the business owner did. I had planned to write about a completely different topic, but watching all this unfold on social media rose to the top quickly.

      • Corina Manea

        I am so happy you wrote about this. We need this kind of examples every single day! So, thank you for writing this, Paula.

  • Such a profound lesson for the teen – clearly the power of the online tool he is using, but hopefully, the more lasting one of grace and forgiveness.

    • I agree. I’m sure this is the case everywhere, but I have seen several situations like this in our town when one image/incident gets blasted virally all at once …. and people face a choice of whether to be vindictive, forgiving, or [some other option]. Another that stands out is when a FB user shared a billboard of a prominent law firm, stating that the female partner portrayed on the billboard had “been rude to my party and jumped in line at a restaurant all self-important.” IT GOT UGLY. VERY. And apparently, if the people I conferred with are correct, it was all a case of mistaken identity. In the meantime many accusations were hurled and much animosity was shared. Sad.

  • I did have to laugh at your escapade, Paula, but the larger message is twofold: (1) don’t take social media for granted and (2) show compassion. Really impressed with the attitude of the business owner. That kid is lucky.

    • The escapade IS hilarious, especially from the vantage point of so many years! I hope the kid really does learn from it; my friend/the business owner has really given him a golden opportunity to make things right and mend relationships.

  • I ran across this article today and it seemed to intersect (in some ways) with mine. Especially the question of where to focus … on the behavior or on the choice of the snapchatter to snap and share….