This is a post I've been writing and re-writing for a while. This morning I finally decided to complete it and publish it. There are two parts of this post. The first part is about phone use in social settings (in general); the second part focuses on what I believe to be the leading cause of the latter: Snapchat.
Let's begin, shall we?
We are living in a day and age where nearly every teenager is in possession of a cell phone, smart phone, iPod, etc. This fact itself is not bad. On the contrary, I’m glad that I have my phone as a way to share photos and communicate with friends, even when we’re not able to see each other in person.
Even still, is online communication (i.e. texting, IMing, Snapchatting) a decent substitute for socializing and communicating with someone in person?
The short answer: Absolutely not.
The long answer:
I will always value in-person interaction with my friends a thousand times as much as I value texting with them. As I said above, I enjoy texting my friends- when I’m not hanging out with them (or others) in person.
You cannot compare text messages or Snapchats to a real conversation with a friend.
And when we’re spending time with someone, that should be all that we are focusing our attention on.
We’ve all been in a situation where we’re hanging out with a group of people and everyone is constantly scrolling on their phone. And it sucks. It’s hard to carry out a decent conversation with someone who’s busy staring down at a screen and trying to be involved in many different conversations at once. Staring at your phone while supposedly “hanging” out with someone else says “I’m bored”. It says “You are not entertaining enough for me”, and it says “I would rather talk with the people in my phone than socialize with you”. Maybe that’s not always the intended meaning, but I do think that's what is says, whether it's intentional or not. We all have situations where we’re with friends and have to take a call or text a parent, but unless it’s 1. An emergency or 2. Involving a parent, it can wait (rather like texting and driving).
Being able to spend time with a friend (or with a group of friends) is one of the greatest things in life. Enjoying the company of someone I care about and having real conversations with them is something I value very much, and I wish our generation as a whole would stop taking it for granted. Every time you’re in the company of friends and you pull out your phone “just to check up on things”, whether you’re writing a text to another friend or sending a completely meaningless photo of the floor, the ceiling, or your face to your snapchat streaks, you are wasting time that you could be spending with a friend.
So let’s stop. Let’s save our “Snapchatting” and “social texting” for when we aren’t surrounded by peers, friends, and family. Let’s try to make the most of the opportunities when we get to enjoy the company of the people we care about.
Allow me to transition into part 2 of this post...
First of all, yes: I have at one point in my life had a Snapchat account. I got one and kept it for a few months, but then deleted it because there is absolutely no point to Snapchat.
Second of all, I'm not trying to come across as mean or hateful; this is simply my opinion. If you're a Snapchat user, don't let this offend you (and know that I don't hate you just for using Snapchat).
That being said...
Unpopular opinion: Snapchat sucks.
And, if I'm being honest, I find that to be an understatement. I simply do not understand why anyone who isn't a thirteen-year-old girl feels the need to have a Snapchat (not that 13-yr-olds benefit from it at all, either).
While it is true that Snapchat could be looked at as a different form of social texting, I think that for the most part, it has no meaning whatsoever. I've heard the argument that "Snapchat is basically texting, but it's better because you actually see people's faces".
Sure, okay... You're texting a friend and you get to add your own facial expression to supplement your words. I see the appeal of that. But then the conversation ends, and all you and your friend are doing is sending pictures of your faces back and forth for weeks (months, even) on end. And from there it turns into pictures of the ceiling, or the wall, or the floor, or random objects around the room. Meaningless.
Even worse is when the only Snapchats you receive from someone are the impersonal pictures they send to all of their "streaks".
Speaking of streaks... Why? Why, why, why, why, why,? There is no point at all to that number that appears beside someone's name because you've "faithfully" sent each other meaningless pictures for days on end. People get so worried about streaks ending- honestly, sometimes you'd think that losing a streak was the end of the world. You're earning these streaks ("points", if you will), but what do you win/gain? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
My main points about Snapchat:
Honesty: I hope that Snapchat dies (or at least that people stop being addicted to it and cease to spend an appalling amount of time "keeping up streaks".
If you use Snapchat, maybe take a few minutes to think about why you use it/how it adds anything positive to your life.
If you're not using Snapchat, thank you (and please let it stay that way).
Again, this is my opinion- I'm not trying to be mean or to say that all Snapchat users are terrible people. I just think that it is an increasingly-serious issue that really does need to be addressed (and hopefully fixed).
(I will add a quick note to this: I know a few (very few) people who have Snapchat accounts but do not let it control their lives and who don't really worry about keeping up with streaks and such. And some people probably do have meaningful conversations through Snapchat. However, those are few and far between, and I still really do believe that this communication could be done elsewhere and that no one needs Snapchat.)
Thanks for reading, friends.