I have never had Snapchat.

Let’s check the list here: never added something to my Story, never shared a hilarious personal video, never even downloaded the app. As for crazy filters on my face? The last time I used those were when I was FaceTiming my roommates over the summer.

This might seem strange to the other people in my generation. Most of my friends in high school and college have at least some experience with the app. According to a 2018 study, 186 million people use Snapchat every day. Even though Snapchat’s popularity has skyrocketed ever since its release in September 2011, it hasn’t really appealed to me.

And there’s a reason for that.

During my freshman year of high school, I was sitting in class when I noticed one of my classmates was on her phone. I glanced over from two desks away and saw a familiar shape on the screen: it was me. I recognized the white sweater I’d been wearing that day.

My picture had been taken without my permission. That was enough of a problem. Then it was only made worse when she drew a circle around me with her finger and typed a message.

What was that all about?

I hadn’t done anything to attract her attention or bother her. However, it bothered me that she took a photo without consulting me and then shared it with whoever had access to her Story. Yet what could I do? Ninth-grade me was nowhere near confident enough to confront this girl, especially not in the middle of class. So I didn’t.

Privacy has become an interesting subject to talk about in the modern world. It’s not exactly taboo, but it isn’t widely talked about, either. A lot of people don’t seem to care much about whether their friends take ridiculous photos of them or screenshot their wacky text conversations. For me, it depends on the situation.

Common sense dictates that we should respect others’ personal space and ask them before sending out a photo or video. It shouldn’t be that hard to follow. Acknowledging people’s boundaries is a useful skill to hone throughout your life.

While I don’t have the app, I’m still involved with Snapchat every once in a while. Sometimes my friends are taking a photo and want me to jump in, so I will. Making memories with people is a definite priority of mine, especially since my college career will come to an end in just one year (how is that possible?).

There’s a big difference between photos with friends and the unintentional situation I found myself in in high school. I couldn’t tell how many people saw the photo or saved it to their own phones. I don’t have the app simply because I know what effects it can have.

Believe me, I’m well aware that this incident happened years ago and that people might say I should get over it and get the app because it’s no big deal. Leading a private life matters to me. I hope to become a published novelist and an actress in the future, and I know that means I’ll have to work hard to keep even the tiniest slice of life out of the public eye.

“Fame comes at a price,” they say. It shouldn’t.

To this day, I still have no idea what that girl wrote about me. I didn’t want to create unnecessary trouble, so I didn’t even bother to investigate what happened. Maybe the snap was malicious or maybe it wasn’t.

I would advise everyone to think twice before filming or taking a photo when the other person doesn’t know. Ask them first, and if they say no, then that means no. Being a decent person is more important than indulging a fleeting impulse to invade privacy.