Staff Opinion: Think before you Snap

Why Snapchat is addictive and negatively affects your social life

By David Jacobs | September 26, 2018 8:32pm

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David Jacobs is a photographer/videographer at The Beacon.

Snapchat is fundamentally addictive and negative for my peer group. Here’s why:

A few weeks ago, I decided to attempt to quit using Snapchat. I find the app extremely distracting, and thought it would be beneficial if I stopped using it. However, I soon found that quitting Snapchat was more difficult than I thought. 

Snap is no longer a social media outlet for me. It has become a significant method of communication between me and my peers. Snap is useful for sending messages or making calls when I don’t have reception, but do have access to wifi. 

Additionally, a good majority of my peers and I have exchanged Snapchat user info, but haven’t exchanged phone numbers. As such, our default method of communication is Snap and it has become increasingly difficult to communicate without it.

Because Snap functions both as a method of communication and a means for entertainment, I find it hard to separate the two functions, due to Snap’s seamless design that integrates the two. While I may intend to respond to a Snap from a friend, I may end up on the app for about 10-15 minutes watching stories. For my peers and I, simply opening the app can be troublesome.

While I move away from Snap by using WhatsApp instead, I can’t help but feel irritated by other mechanics Snap uses to keep it’s users on the app on the daily. The prime perpetrator of this is Snap’s streak mechanic. While it started as a fun tidbit of information, my peers and I started to actively uphold streaks. We became invested to the point where we’d send arbitrary pictures of walls captioned “streak” in order to keep them. Some of my peers even became upset after telling them I’d be moving away from Snap since they wanted to reach some benchmark streak, as if it were a testament of our friendship. It’s these sorts of mechanics that make me and other people return to Snap on the daily.

Another mechanic I find irritating is Snapmap. While this may be a mechanic that requires user confirmation to be enabled, it still fosters a certain stalking mentality among my peers which I don’t believe is healthy. Some of my peers actively look for one another using Snapmap, when one fails to respond in a certain amount of time. Some of my peers have even started referring to Snapmap as a means of monitoring each other when they believe they are at risk, i.e. while at a party. Snapmap reduces trust among me and my peers, and doesn’t seem beneficial to our relationships. 

I don’t claim to be an expert on Snapchat or its mechanics, and while my experience may be anecdotal, the culture that Snap enabled in my peer group turned negative, fast.


David Jacobs is a junior psychology major and can be reached at jacobsd20@up.edu. 

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