Why Snapchat is Killing Society
Last night I was struck by the realization that I have an addiction. That sentence may have scared you, so I would reassure you now that it isn’t an addiction to a drug. However, I won’t be doing that because I think we might as well consider this thing a drug at this point. I will now reveal that “this thing” is unfortunately a social media platform.
“This thing” is Snapchat.
It frustrates me to admit this addiction when I know my case is way less significant than most people I see or know, but if I can open someone’s eyes through how I’m about to analyze Snapchat, I’d feel so much better.
When I got into my bed last night to go to sleep, it took two minutes for something to go off in my head and say, “Wait, you didn’t manage your snapstreaks or check Snapchat today.” As I sat up, grabbed my phone and opened the little yellow application, it hit me that I couldn’t go a day without using it. I’ve noticed many people can’t go a few hours or even minutes without using Snapchat, which is sadly myself sometimes too, and realizing that hit me harder. Sure, I check other media platforms like Instagram and Facebook every day, but I do it in my free time for enjoyment without feeling an obligation to do it. Snapchat puts a timer on everything so people will keep returning, and I can’t believe how much it has affected us. I like to think of myself as conscious and strong-minded, but when I saw how much I was being controlled and hurt by an app consisting of distorting filters and temporary words, I felt so weak, so manipulated, so disappointed.
So, I decided I was going to scrutinize this app and find out what makes it so addicting. And after becoming aware of all that Snapchat really is, I can see how it is altering communication so negatively and depriving us of our real social skills.
Communication today has already been made easier for us through texting. Any funny, deep, aggressive or sexual conversation you wish to have can be easily started through typing words at your fingertips without dealing with a physical confrontation or interaction. There is the common arguement that texting is killing the definition of interaction and friendship because it enables us to say or do things that we wouldn’t actually say or do in person.
However, I believe texting is not fully responsible for killing society. Atleast in my generation of teenagers, I believe the murderer is Snapchat. Yup, the app with a ghost as its logo. Ironic, huh?
Any way, here’s why snapchat can destroy us…
Imagine a place where you can be all things you are not, and no one can even document it because the pictures and messages disappear.
This is the world that Snapchat has created.
Here is where I will dissect Snapchat and its features and try to show you how disturbing some of them really are. After each one I will address a little thank you note to Snapchat, a very, very sardonic one.
1.) Snapchat Filters.
These range from anything like a dog’s ears, nose and tongue to a glowing, smooth-skinned, big and blue-eyed beauty filter. Every filter always distorts your face enough to make you look “prettier” or make you look nothing like yourself.
So thank you, Snapchat, For making myself and others feel ugly enough to cover my entire face with something better… because you are an app designed for mass communication, so of course you’ve recommended different masks for me to use. Why would I want to show everybody what I actually look like? Why would I want to show everyone I have freckles all over my face? Thank you for trying to clear my skin, slim my face, and make me feel not good enough. Thank you, it really means a lot.
2.) Snapchat “Friends”, “Best Friends” lists, and Snap Streaks
Like Facebook, Snapchat refers to all contacts as “Friends”. Snapchat also provides you a list of your “Best Friends”, the 7 people you snap most. Funny, the person that I consider my real best friend isn’t even on my list. Even funnier, Snapchat makes it so your significant other, your sister, and a random classmate all have the same label. Except that random classmate might snap you a lot one night about homework, so then the next day you end up with that person at the top of your “best friends” list. Oh, and did I forget to mention that you’re not allowed to view who other people have as their best friends? Though, you can see by an emoji who is your best friend while you are their best friend. You know, to make this secretive, phony place seem a little more intimate. Better yet, there is the pondering emoji (🤔) next to anyone who has the same #1 best friend you have. Encouraging jealousy much? Don’t even get me started on snap streaks. But just like everything else I’ve mentioned, I’m guilty of using this feature too. When you snap someone every day, you gain a “streak” with them. “SnapStreak” is the number of days you’ve been consecutively “talking” to each other, and if you go 24 without snapping, the streak disappears. We find these stupid numbers to be so fascinating and important that we freak out if we lose one. I’ve actually been scolded for being responsible for losing a streak, and I’ve freaked out over almost losing my highest one. These numbers make us think we’re closer to someone, or that we should value that person more. And the best part is we’re unaware that this is our thought process now. What is happening to the definition of friendship within our minds?
Thank you, Snapchat, for categorizing my contacts based on your data. Thank you for trying to make me see who my “real friends” are and who my “fake, backstabbing” friends are through emojis. Blushy face means best friend right? So what if the person I snapped the most was because I was fighting with them? That means they deserve a happy face and high label, right? And a skeptical face next to people with the same #1 best friend as me? I guess I should be convinced that something is going on… Thank you, Snapchat, for letting me know what type of emotions I should and shouldn’t feel. This will really help me be social in the real world (not).
3.) Temporary, Temporary, Temporary
Snapchats disappear after watching them, Snap Stories (the mass snap you post for your entire contact list to see) disappear after 24 hours, messages disappear after leaving the screen, and snapstreaks show an hourglass when they’re about to end. I’m missing something else that disappears…what could that be? Oh, right. Ourselves. After using this app to the point where we become addicted to it and controlled by it, we are essentially losing ourselves. We get so absorbed in the app’s content, which is made up of mindless, forgettable conversations and mass snaps of everyone invading their own privacy, that we forget everything going on around us.
So, the question is: Does Snapchat have temporary features, or is it Snapchat that is making us have a temporary sense of awareness to the world we’re living in?
So thank you, Snapchat, for giving everyone FOMO (the fear of missing out). Thank you for making everything temporary so people have to check you before it disappears. Thank you for making people fear losing a little emoji or insignificant number. Thank you for starting pointless fights about your precious features. Thank you for destroying the meaning of getting to know someone…since everyone seems to post everything about them and what they’re doing. Thank you for making my friends (the ones in real life, of course) become unaware that I’m even hanging out with them for the time that they’re using you. Thank you for being so damn distracting. You win.
4.) News and Magazine Subscriptions
This is probably the only compliment I will give snapchat in this long vent. Another feature snapchat has to keep you coming back daily is their subscriptions. Cosmopolitan, CNN, Daily News, ESPN, etc. Having quick access to these magazines and news sources daily is my favorite part of snapchat. Since I’m a journalist, that was probably predictable. Teenagers have definitely been more aware of what’s going on in the world through seeing advertisements of the articles displayed on the app. But I think that is the only part of snapchat that makes us “aware” in any way.
Alright, now let’s look into Snapchat’s description, their own description. I went on the AppStore and what I saw completely filled me with abhorrence.
This is what Snapchat has under their description:
“Life’s more fun when you live in the moment. :) Happy Snapping!”
Let that sink in for a few seconds.
Live in the moment. This app claims that its associated with that?! As I just discussed, Snapchat has every feature it needs to keep everyone constantly checking it, looking down through their little screen instead of through their own eyes.
Is it really living in the moment when everyone at a dinner is on their phones?
Is it really living in the moment when you make plans with someone just to end up snap chatting other people, or better yet, each other while with them?
Is it really living in the moment when you are vicariously living through the “lives” of other?
This app breeds silence at any type of gathering. This app encourages people to be secretive and phony. This app is getting in our heads, and we’re not even aware of it.
Snapchat, an app to connect, makes us disconnect from the world around us.
Snapchat, an app to make us more social, deprives us of our real social skills.
And with that, I admit to my addiction to Snapchat. I admit to being manipulated and played. But I see it all now, and if you actually made it this far, I hope you do too.