The One Second Everyday App
Over winter break, I spent about 2,141 minutes on Instagram, scrolling through first-semester recap posts from my freshman peers. My screen lit up with photos of large groups of friends with bright smiles, putting one arm in the air and the other around another equally smiling companion. The people in these posts seemed so carefree. There was no visible trace of the loneliness or anxiety that had permeated so many of my experiences last semester.
Every time the app refreshed, my feed was inundated with photos of picnics in the Law Quadrangle and chaotic tailgates, with captions proclaiming that people had found their home and were with their own. Although I consider myself very aware of how fake social media can be, I still felt uneasy going through these posts and seeing the perfect college experience that everyone seemed to be having but me.
Many of these posts were made using the 1 Second Everyday app. Promising to “create a meaningful movie of your life”, the app allows users to take one-second videos for each day of the year, which are then compiled into a single video. The app has 4.8 stars, and one reviewer even shared that seeing her son’s happiness every day in the videos helped her cope with postpartum depression. The app encourages people to focus on the special little moments that happen every day: the moment a swirl of cream hits a cup of coffee, the fast-moving view from a bus window, or the last second of standby brightness. turn off the lights and go to sleep.
But ultimately, the app isn’t immune to the issues seen on other social media platforms, as it fuels the harmful culture of constant comparison.
However, something I admire about the app is how it encourages people to romanticize their lives. A phenomenon that has taken digital circles by storm, I have tried to incorporate this way of thinking into my life in hopes that it will make me happier by encouraging me to slow down and focus on people. who I spend time with and the smallest details of each day.
Last week, returning from a late-night study session, I paid more attention to my surroundings. I listened to the authoritative sound of my Doc Martens tapping against the cold stone pavement of the Law Quad and watched the soft snow fall under the lampposts as I walked back to my dorm. I welcomed the freezing cold of January like an old faithful friend, one who has come back every winter for the eight years that I have lived here.
Focusing on the details of my winter evening gave me an unexpected sense of detachment. It is human nature, and necessary evolution, to always focus on our problems, on the work we need to do and on how we need to improve. But romanticizing my life took me away from that feeling – I felt like I was looking back on my own life. An observer in my own first-person reality.
That’s when I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be. I wanted to hold on tight to that feeling, because it’s not one that comes up often during the first year.
Another advantage of the application can be simply to remember what happened in a day.
It’s definitely the busiest of my life, as I try to organize meals with friends between extracurricular activities, office hours and the time I spend for some reason on Instagram reels every days.
When people ask me how my day was or what I did, I have a hard time telling them. I can’t remember everything that blew that day. My polite but superficial response often ends up being a lazy muddle of the basics that ends with sharing my class schedule. But the times of my day that I enjoy the most are all the moments in between: small talk with people in the hallway while brushing my teeth or sitting on a friend’s rug at night and hearing about the ups and downs downs of their loving life.
These are the times when I feel loved, when I don’t feel alone, and when I feel like, shockingly, a functional student (and even, maybe, an adult!). But those moments pass and I’m afraid they’re just that — that when I leave college, the memories I share are in the form of a class list rather than an outpouring of good times with friends, feelings of belonging and collections of little adventures.
For this, the 1 Second Everyday app may offer a solution: an opportunity to immerse myself in my own life and reflect on what makes it beautiful and rewarding. Although I’ve only been using the app for a short time, I really enjoy watching the little video I already have. And being on the lookout for a moment I should record increases my awareness of the special moments I can see and experience. As I look back on the days and see clips busy with friends and extracurricular activities and others of me sitting alone in my room studying, I’m just reminded that those contrasting moments are the nature of the life and that any loneliness I feel will pass, like every music video that flies away in an instant.
I hope that my use of the app can be a kind of stepping stone – a tool that I can use for this semester, or maybe this year, until this way of seeing life is at the heart of my state of mind.
Focusing on small, seemingly ordinary parts of my own life could also provide a healthy distraction from the chaos of the rest of the world. The danger of climate change, for example, is a worry that constantly simmers in the back of my mind and creeps to the fore at times when it seems I can’t do anything about it, like when I walk to class or before bed. In this way, some detachment could be healthy. It shouldn’t surprise me that things are easier when I spend more time thinking about the comfort of my socks or the reopening of the East Quad Residence Hall hot chocolate machine than the threat of microplastics. Simply put, as I eloquently wrote in my notes for this piece, “when the big things cause the big sadness, the little things can be focused on.”
However, it’s one thing to record these videos to add some permanence to life’s fleeting moments or to indulge in wholesome escapist entertainment amid the deteriorating world. It’s quite another thing to use the app to piece together an inaccessible version of life to share on the internet. The latter has more than its fair share of problems, as the internet continues to be plagued by inaccessible, hyper-filtered depictions of people’s daily lives. As someone who is, unfortunately, a frequent Instagram reel user, my feed was filled with the latest iteration of idealistic social media absurdity: the “that girl” aesthetic.
The stereotypical “that girl” video will involve waking up early in the morning, opening a window to a beautiful view, journaling, meditating, hitting the gym and then drinking a smoothie (the bowls smoothies also work). At the end of these videos, I often wonder how someone with a full-time job could possibly maintain this routine.
This trend perpetuates a capitalist version of self-care that requires gym memberships and glass straws, in which well-being and self-improvement are an appearance of wealth. A deeper problem is revealed with a quick search for “that girl” on YouTube. The results are videos of mostly slim and toned white women. Overall, the trend perpetuates racist beauty standards while capitalizing on people’s desire for a better life. In doing so, it paints a singular picture of health and happiness that is unattainable for all but the fraction of the population that matches these characteristics.
Obviously, this method of romanticizing life is toxic and exclusive. So where is the line between social media that makes us feel happy in our lives and trends that seem to achieve the exact opposite goal?
My faith in 1 Second Everyday as a positive form of social media was deflated by the introduction of the app’s “Crowds” feature. This new feature gives users a “social experience” where they can follow their friends and post videos that subscribers can view, like and comment on for 72 hours. Undeniably, this feature will just provide another platform for people to compare themselves to their followers.
While I don’t think there is a singular, ideal way to strike balance from application, I do think intentions are important. Different results occur when we romance our lives for our own ends, rather than to share with others or garner followers. The same goes for how we consume other people’s social media posts. We can be happy for the people we follow while realizing that context is everything and that social media provides little or nothing.
The problem with the app is that a second doesn’t come close to the full story of someone’s life and experiences, or even the time the second was captured. It might be helpful to capture the highs of our own lives to lessen the impact of the lows we experience. But if we never witness anyone’s downs, seeing the fictionalized version of their lives is anything but fulfilling.
For students like me who use social media frequently and also face the pressure of planning our future, housing and education, I find it unlikely that the desire to create the perfect life is something that will disappear one day. But being aware of how these factors can distort the way we use and consume media can give us some needed distance from trends that blur the line between fantasy and reality.
Rather than creating an Instagram-worthy version of happiness or success, we can do our best to lean into the little moments we hope to happily see again. We can’t create the perfect narrative, but rather, we can create one that is filled with in-between moments that help make every second we spend on this campus more fulfilling.
Statement correspondent Caitlin Lynch can be reached at [email protected].