Ask any of my friends or family members and they’ll tell you: whenever there is a new social network out I’m always the first one within their circle to join. I remember reading about Instagram in 2010 and posting my first photo to an follower audience of zero. Snapchat is no exception to this pattern, except it’s the first major social network that I ended up deleting. And I couldn’t be more pleased.
Snap stories came into prominence when Snapchat really took off. People began documenting every moment of their lives, precious or meaningless, in their 24-hour collections. As amazing as it is to be able to journal your life in such a public way, that caused a lot of problems for me and I still see it causing problems for many others.
I’ve actually deleted Snapchat twice so far. The first time was during college for about two months. I was commuting to college at the time while all my friends moved away to live on campus. Watching their snap stories every weekend was, to say the least, upsetting. Everyone seemed to be living it up and had no problem showing that off, while my snap story remained empty because I wasn’t a part of that scene yet. It really drove up my insecurity levels, so I allowed myself a break from watching my own exclusion play out and felt huge relief. I eventually rejoined though because I did miss being in the loop and checking in on what everyone was up to.
People began documenting every moment of their lives, precious or meaningless, in their 24-hour collections. That can cause problems.
The second time, and my current period (over six months so far) away from Snapchat, is far different than that small hiatus though. I’m more convinced than ever that Snapchat has a negative impact on my mental and social well-being. And I urge every snap story addict to consider taking some time off to explore life without it.
Also on Guiding Tech
1. Cut Down on Anxiety
Snapchat and snap stories in particular give me anxiety. Since over time the number of Snapchat friends I had added up to several dozens, checking the app all the time became a chore rather than something I was eager to do.
I would go through 25 different snap stories, close Snapchat, open it again 30 minutes later and have 10 new ones to watch.
This can’t be any way to live. I’m tired, and quite frankly, I don’t care that much about what all of these people are doing. Yet if I want the notification icon to go away I need to skim through every meaningless photo and video. It gets overwhelming and frustrating, so why would I subject myself to that?
2. Start Living a Little More
One of my favorite parts about deleting Snapchat is that I get to live and enjoy the moment as it happens. If something fun is happening, I don’t think “Wait, I have to snap this!” anymore. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy it instead of rushing to document it and make sure all my friends know about it. What a crazy concept.
Besides, I learned that the more I wanted to snap something, the less genuine fun I was having. If I was at a social gathering constantly taking pictures and videos, even if I didn’t know it at the time, I was probably uncomfortable about something or just unfulfilled. When I had a Snapchat, the best moments in life were the ones when I didn’t feel compelled to take out my phone and add anything to my story. I was too engaged to care.
3. Improve Your Relationships
Stop choosing your snap story over real, concrete communication with people you care about.
I can’t tell you how many conversations I overhear that go something like this.
Person 1: Hey, guess what I did yesterday.
Person 2: Oh that? I saw that in your snap story.
Person 1: Ha! Oh yeah, I forgot I posted it.
What kind of conversation is that supposed to be? Stop choosing your snap story over real, concrete communication with people you care about. Without Snapchat, my conversations with people never die out like that. I don’t have my own snap story and I don’t see theirs, so now they’re forced to tell me what happened. And — surprise! — it’s more interesting to hear first-hand instead of in a media cluster I’m quickly tapping through so I can move on with my day.
4. Stop Watching Everyone Inflate Their Egos
By far the best reason I use to explain why I deleted my Snapchat for my own health is this: everyone is so fake on Snapchat. Before you get defensive, let me just say that I am completely guilty of also being fake using it, but at least I recognized it.
We all try way too hard to make our lives look way more interesting than they are on Snapchat. Any moment that seems out of the ordinary we record mostly just others can say “wow!” That has to be the purpose. If we wanted the moment to keep for ourselves, we’d take a real photo or video and save it.
If you could translate everything in your snap story into words, 90 percent would just read “Hey everyone, look at me doing this thing!”
Everyone is so fake on Snapchat.
Stop trying to elevate your life and stop watching others do the same. It’s kind of gross, and you’re better than that. Live your life not caring what other people think about you. You are the only one that has to be happy with your life — no one else.
Snapchat filters and lenses are fun, and sending occasional photos/videos here and there have clear value. But Snapchat becomes dangerous when it turns into a popularity contest that simultaneously manages to also weaken our connections and communication with others.