Another day, another viral trend. You may have recently heard of or participated in AirDropping images to strangers around you whenever you’re in public.
For those who may not know, AirDropping is a feature on Apple products that allows users to easily share images and files with other Apple users nearby without needing to attach them in a text or email. All you need is to be relatively physically close, have your Bluetooth or WiFi on, and with a simple tap, you can send whatever you want to whoever also has AirDrop on.
This may sound strange if it’s not something you haven’t heard of or have never participated in. It can be a bit of a game though, with someone sending you a meme, you sending a similar one back, and suddenly there’s an exchange going on to see who has the most powerful, yet silly image. You can also compete with others around you to see how many of these chains you can get going on at once. At its best, it can be reassuring – people can sometimes AirDrop positive images and things about self-love, or they aim to AirDrop content that they hope will make the other person laugh. It’s a way to socialize on a minimal, harmless level with your peers around you and can be a fun thing to do to kill time while waiting for an event to start.
But while it may be lighthearted and fun for the most part, there are still several risks. For example, you have to agree to receive the files and save them to your device, but you can still what the content is when it pops up. This could potentially contain NSFW or triggering content (even if the content isn’t “frightening” itself, everyone can be sensitive to different things) and be upsetting to see, especially in public. It can even feel overwhelming and can possibly cause feelings of anxiety, especially in spaces where there are tons of people (concerts are one the most popular places where AirDropping occurs). There might be an element of social anxiety involved too, since someone you most likely don’t know is technically contacting you, and you may not know how to react, feel comfortable accepting the image, or are afraid of responding.
There are ways to avoid the activity if AirDropping isn’t for you, or think it may be a trigger for stress. For one thing, you’re not participating at all if you have an Android device. Those who have an Apple device can also disable it completely. If you use AirDrop for other things (for example, sharing photos with friends that you took of them), you can limit AirDrop to just your contacts. At the end of the day, you do have some power over your level of participation, even if it’s as simple as sending yet another Spongebob meme to one of your friends when you see them in the hallway.
Have you ever heard of AirDropping memes? Have you ever done it? What do you think of the idea?