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Snapchat’s Pikachu filter is teaching me how to connect with my generation

“You’re a bad 23 year old”

pikachu lens collage from snapchat The Pokémon Company/Snapchat

It’s not unfair to assume that I, Polygon’s resident young person, would be into Snapchat. But you know what they say about assuming, people: I have no clue how Snapchat works.

That was never more apparent to me or the more social media-savvy members of Polygon around me as I tinkered with the app this morning, downloading it for the first time since college. I’m back on Snapchat not as a lark, but because Pikachu’s there now. Where that lovable yellow rodent Pokémon goes, I follow.

The Pokémon Company released a Pikachu lens today, which will be available for a limited time. If you have Snapchat already, you know how to get those Pikachu ears and rosy-red cheeks on your pics pronto. For me, I had to enlist some help to give me a Snapchat tutorial first.

Did you know you can take videos with Snapchat? I didn’t. It took me a sec to even get the lens going, a process I’m still having trouble with. Once I figured it out, though, I understood the simple magic of this very, very simple app. I looked like Pikachu! My eyes were so big! My cheeks were so colorful! I looked like Pikachu!

allegra pikachu filter omg Allegra Frank/Snapchat

Pikachu even shows up when you open your mouth to give you a kiss and scream in your face, all while unleashing some Thundershock moves on the screen. It’s adorable.

allegra snapchat pikachu lens
Ouch, Pikachu.
Allegra Frank/Snapchat

Snapchat had allowed me to fully realize my inner Pokémon, according to my editor in chief. Is this what people dig the app for? Seeing their true Pikachu, hot dog, dog-eared selves? It made sense to me.

snapchat chat screen
Thanks, Chris Grant.
Allegra Frank/Snapchat

At least, it did for little while. Snapchat is an inherently ephemeral medium, and my interest waxed and waned just as quickly. There are only so many cute poses to do as a Pikachu, it turns out.

allegra snapchat okay
My face upon realizing that Snapchat ... kind of sucks.
Allegra Frank/Snapchat

Sending selfies to my friends with my tongue sticking out or my nose turned up is fun, sure ... but can’t I just text those to them? While having an actual conversation? I know this is the millennial way to communicate, but it seems even more reductive than emojis.

I’m going to uninstall Snapchat, if not today, then as soon as this promotion is up. If you’re already big into sending short-lived messages to your pals, this lens is another cute, fun way to do that. That dancing hot dog’s cute, too, but I can’t even get it to hang out with me — so what’s the point?

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