Now before I begin, I should mention that I am a loyal Snapchat user, so I am guilty of being absorbed in this obsession as well. I’ve been thinking about writing about this for weeks now, but I refrained because I did not want to be hypocritical. Yet, the more I have thought about it, the sillier and more trivial Snapchat became. To clarify, I am not suggesting that everyone needs to delete their Snapchats or even break their streaks (oh, the horror!), but I think it’s important for us, including me, to take a step back and consider the extent to which social media has taken over our lives.
Our obsession with Snapchat only works to the company’s advantage with each update becoming more and more exciting and tempting for the consumer. Don’t get me wrong, I think Snapchat is a fun way to connect with people, share our lives through pictures, and even experience others’ lives (including celebrities) in a quick 10-second video and a five-word caption. It’s also a simple way of interacting because it takes the pressure and effort from having a full conversation and typing things out. However, some features on Snapchat which seem “fun” are actually quite problematic.
Here are 4 ways that Snapchat is making us all go crazy.
Streaks are basically a challenge you have with another person, in which both people send one snap daily. A fire emoji appears next to that person’s name after 3 consecutive days, with the number increasing every day. When you approach the 100-day milestone, a 100 emoji appears to celebrate the achievement. Not going to lie, reaching this mark for the first time was pretty exciting!
But, here is where the problem begins. Once you start one streak, you are suddenly tempted to start more. It almost feels like an unofficial rule that once you reach a certain stage of a new friendship, a streak must be initiated. As the number continues to increase, the pressure to maintain the streak increases. It’s a commitment that I honestly did not sign up for.
Some of my streaks are with people that I barely talk to. If a daily snap back and forth is the only communication you hold with someone, why is so much value placed upon the streak? The truth is I’d rather have streaks feel exciting like they initially did rather than a daily task I have to complete. Of course, I do have some friends and groups on Snapchat that I actually share meaningful things with. Streaks that are built this way are totally awesome! But, if the only reasons I snap people daily is for the sake of the streak, then something is wrong.
Sending mass snaps or blank screens with “streak” written on it, asking my friends to take over my account when I’m on vacation or cannot use Snapchat, and attaching too much value to a streak are signs of the obsession. Can we just take a second to acknowledge how silly all of this is?! What’s worse is that the easy solution of breaking streaks is frankly not-so-easy. After a certain point, breaking a streak feels like betrayal. Like, why break it now after coming so far? But, we really need to ask ourselves: if not now, when?
Stories are great ways of sharing memorable moments with all of your friends at once. Even better, it lasts an entire day, so it’s cherished longer. However, I think stories lose their purpose and value when people feel the need to share every moment of their lives without taking the time to put their phone away and really enjoy it. Because, trust me, no one wants to go through 2 minutes worth of a concert that you are attending on his/her phone. Instead of watching the whole thing through a screen, I bet you that being present in the moment is much more fulfilling. And it’s okay, you can spare the rest of your friends the shaky footage and replace it with one or two pictures because they are probably tapping through it anyway.
But, I get it. Some meals, moments and places are so aesthetic that they have to be captured. However, people who snap everything they eat, every place they visit, and every party they’re at are a bit concerning. Stories are a lot more interesting to look through when they are something new and exciting. Seeing my entire Snapchat flooded with the same old stories every day is honestly a bit depressing.
Snapchat scores are a sum total of all the snaps that you have sent and received. Like other social media websites, the higher the number, the more “authoritative”, “cool” or “popular” you seem. Humans are naturally competitive. Increasing their scores can become a motivation to constantly add new people, send pointless snaps and keep loads of streaks. In fact, the Internet has tons of websites on how to increase snap scores. Here’s an example:
Just the fact that such websites exist is scary because it shows how deeply engrossed we are into social media.
Ah, the infamous best friend list on Snapchat. The emojis next to people’s names code for so much, effectively ranking friendships and increasing paranoia everywhere. The fact that it’s so indirect makes it exciting and sneaky, but also super nervewracking.
In particular, the smirky face and gritting teeth emojis are prone to making people feel jealous and insecure. Also, the hearts hold special value. The red heart appears after 2 weeks of being each others #1 best friend, and the two pink hearts appear after 2 months. Losing a heart is heartbreaking to some people, and can potentially lead to salty feelings. The whole ordeal is stressful and worrisome.
Snapchat should not be about maintaining unnecessary commitments, but rather sharing and interacting with friends. If once in a while, your best friend list changes around, it should not mean the end of the world. Friendships on Snapchat are ranked according to the number of snaps you send people. It’s impossible to send snaps to the same person for a prolonged time unless it’s done purposefully. Therefore, your best friend list is bound to change around and does not necessarily equate to your real-life friendships. If not being your friend’s BFF on Snapchat is enough to get you paranoid, how strong is your friendship?
I have yet to break my streaks or even consider deleting my Snapchat because quite frankly, I’m weak and easily tempted. However, just realizing the extent of the obsession is important. As they say, acceptance is the first step to change. Personally, I’m taking little steps to step away from social media once in a while and really enjoy the moment. Resisting the urge to snap everything, not adding all of my suggested friends, and not worrying about my best friend list are some ways I have addressed the problem. At the end of the day, real-time interactions hold so much more value than a three-second snap.