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FOR

Words by Joshua Green

Here’s the thing: I love a Snapchat. It might be from a close friend, a family member, or even that middle-aged African-American woman whom I haven’t had the heart to delete. I don’t really care. All I know is that I’m thankful for the weird and wonderful world that is unveiled to me through this little yellow app.

Not that long ago selfies were considered passé and the domain of the teenybopper minority (and Kevin Rudd). Not anymore. Today they are being reclaimed by the masses and to great affect.

Snaps I have received include a magical melange of drunken singing (most regularly ‘Drunk In Love’), grotesque facial expressions, and artfully rendered drawings of penises over people’s faces.Who wouldn’t want that?

For ten seconds I am privileged with a snapshot into that person’s life, a shared digital moment that breaks down any time/space division between us. We are free to let our wild side shine like a beacon to anyone on our contact list.

To those who might scoff at the Snapchat enthusiasts among us, I ask you to consider the ramifications of a world without this platform. The risk of your parents seeing you singing Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ atop a bed might be reduced (apologies Mum and Dad), certainly—but what else might be lost?

Snapchat is not solely for the imbibers and eccentrics. I’ve known entire relationships that have been conducted via the platform. Sending a bedtime selfie, a perfectly tousled morning selfie, even the occasional ‘bored in a lecture but still looking hot’ selfie. And while photographic traditionalists might snicker at this, I think it’s got something going for it.

As a member of Gen Y, I go mad for any new form of social media. MSN, Bebo, Facebook, Instagram,… even LinkedIn; I’ve had them all. But the real human quality is missing in all these platforms.

This is where Snapchat comes in: as the technological home base for sharing insignificant moments. An outlet for serial sexters who do not want their wobbly bits splashed across the frightening sphere that is the Facebook news feed. A digital vortex that is willing to forget the drunken shenanigans of a big night faster than you do.

This is not to suggest that Snapchat serves as some kind of Utopian platform, rekindling real human contact in the cold digital age. A dick pic does not a relationship make. However, in contrast to the highly edited, permanent realms of other social media, it is a step closer to reality. Ily Snapchat. Stay golden.

AGAINST

Words by Alexander Sheko

Snapchat, if left unchecked and unchallenged, will lead to nothing less than the collapse of Western civilization, if not humanity itself. I guarantee this, and plenty of my predictions have come true in the past. For example, the other day, I correctly foretold that Andrew Bolt would publish a laughable and borderline offensive editorial piece in the Herald Sun.

The first reason why Snapchat will lead to the end of life as we know it is that it promotes a frighteningly dangerous level of narcissism by encouraging its users (mostly those pesky and entitled Gen Y-ers) to pester their contemporaries with snaps (as it were) of their mundane and tedious lives. Many users even take “selfies” to send to their friends; such is the level of their self-fascination!

I once tried to take a selfie. It appeared there was something wrong with the front-facing camera on my phone so I had to do it the “old-fashioned” way. It was very awkward and I ended up dropping my phone. The fall of my phone to the ground was surely nothing but a portent of the fall of humanity that is to come because of this app.

Secondly, Snapchat discriminates against those with fingers that are less than dainty and nimble. I attempted to handwrite an amusing message earlier today, superimposed on a photograph of a bruise that was forming on my foot where I had dropped my tablet. Though a pleasant lime green, the letters were but indecipherable, triggering a traumatic flashback to being told as a child that I would fail at school, university and (presumably) life due to illegible handwriting. And handwriting practice. God, I hated that.

But this isn’t about me, of course. This is about civilization! For when we permit the marginalisation of those with clumsy fingers and inexpert fine motor skills, we basically go down the slippery slope that leads only to dystopian nightmares beyond belief.

Finally, how come nobody has sent me nudes yet? Seriously. I assumed this was a platform for the free (albeit fleeting) exchange of poor quality amateur pornography, but so far have received only pictures of a moustachioed cat and complaints about pharmacology lectures (in selfie form to convey deep angst). What a complete and utter letdown. And, of course, the whole civilizational collapse thing.

Every month, For & Against will tackle a different issue – some serious, some not so serious. If you have a debate you want to see resolved in Farrago, email us at farragomagazine2014@gmail.com

The East West link is dividing Melbourne—both figuratively and literally. We asked two students to weigh in on the debate.

FOR

Words by Charles Everist

The Eastern Freeway is pumping enormous volumes of traffic into arterial roads and suburban streets. As traffic bursts at the other end of the pipeline into different channels, the results prove chaotic.

Without a tunnel, Carlton’s streets act like a bottleneck on traffic moving from the eastern suburbs to critical destinations such as the airport, industrial zones and the port of Melbourne. Only the East West Link can solve this specific problem.

Nevertheless, the East West Link will not be the solution to our traffic chaos in and of it self. Certainly, Melbourne needs improvements to its public transport infrastructure. For instance, we still need to extend the city loop to include the University of Melbourne and the Domain interchange.

New roads and new public transport links are not mutually exclusive sets of policies. Transport is not a zero-sum game. Government should have capacity to invest in both. At the present time, however, Victoria’s economy has limited capacity to fund a rail extension under the city, let alone both a road and rail tunnel.

In an election year we must evaluate the policies that have actually been put on the table. The transport policies that State Labor and Daniel Andrews have recently released are unrealistic. Figures from the Public Transport Victoria and the Department of Justice show that Labor’s removal of level crossings will cost double than expected and will take years to complete.

For this reason, unions in Victoria have backed East West Link. Electrical Trades Union state secretary Troy Gray has said “we need to see credible alternatives before we are critical of this project”. Other union officials have come out in support of East West because it will deliver jobs to their members sooner during this unsettling time for the construction industry.

Finally, the East West Link is not just about cars, trucks and trains. Hidden behind the protestors’ chants, the debate on Spring Street, and the words opined in the papers, a human element remains. East West is the difference between employment or the dole queue. It’s the difference between a working mother or father being able to pick their kids up from school on time.

Melbourne still has a long way to go before its citizens can be proud of their transport system. But building East West is the first step.

AGAINST

Words by Alexander Sheko

I could go on for pages about the negative impacts of the Victorian Government’s proposed East West Link toll road. It will destroy a good part of Royal Park and Moonee Ponds Creek, increase traffic volumes and congestion in suburbs like Flemington, displace residents of over a hundred homes, and relegate thousands of others to five years of drilling, blasting, trucks, noise, and contaminated soil.

However, the reality is that these impacts are local in scale. While devastating to those that experience them, they—from a utilitarian perspective—pale in comparison to the project’s effect on Melbourne and Victoria. The East West Link represents a phenomenal expenditure that provides disproportionately small benefits to a disproportionately small proportion of the state’s population. It will consume a generation’s worth of infrastructure funding, ensuring our transport system remains firmly fixed in the last century—to say nothing of the opportunity cost to our health and education systems.

Proponents of the road claim it will relieve congestion along Alexandra Parade and the Eastern Freeway. How can this be the case when the majority of the freeway’s traffic is headed for the CBD (not west) and its traffic volumes are, by the government’s own modelling, projected to significantly increase once the road is constructed? It is claimed that the road will take traffic off local, inner suburban roads. How could this possibly be true when the likely cost to use the road will simply encourage more of the same ‘rat-running’?

Whatever one’s political bent, it can be agreed that wasting public money is bad. Owing to the commercial failure of similar toll roads in Sydney and Brisbane, the private sector is now demanding that the government assume the revenue risk for projects such as the East West Link. This means that if traffic volumes and therefore toll revenues are less than expected, it is the Victorian taxpayer who bears the cost.

Ultimately, the East West Link means a huge amount of money spent for political reasons, rather than for public gain. This is money that could be better spent expanding the frequency and reach of our rail and bus networks, so as to ensure that people, wherever they live, have access to an efficient and reliable public transport system. Only when we focus on getting people—not cars—around can we move Melbourne’s transportation system into the twenty-first century.

Every month, For & Against will tackle a different issue—some serious, some not so serious. If you have a debate you want to see resolved in Farrago, email us at farragomagazine2014[at]gmail.com