The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.

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Why Snapchat is Problematic

Ryan Sheehan, '17, Editor

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As of the last time I checked, I have a Snapchat score of 31,211. What this means is that, in my lifetime, I have sent and received a total of over thirty-thousand snapchats. What this also means is that I, much like many others at Haven, am taking up a sizable amount of storage space on an NSA server somewhere.

Now this isn’t actually all that surprising. The current Haven population is made up entirely of Generation Z members, and, as we all know, the millennials and Generation Z-ers have always been infamous for their unprecedented connectivity. We’ve all heard the tired, snarky remarks from the Baby Boomers and other critics alike: Can’t you just eat a meal without taking a picture of it? How many selfies could you possibly need? What do you mean a pig has more followers than you? (@estherthewonderpig has 275k followers on Instagram. This is the reality we have chosen for ourselves. There is no turning back.) And while I’m not here to comment on the validity of those arguments, I would stand to say that we could all benefit from logging off of Snapchat a little more frequently.

Hear me out. On more than one occasion, I have heard peers expressing similar concerns about a fundamentally modern quandary: “We just run out of things to talk about when we’re together. We’ve already said everything. We’re pretty much Snapchatting 24/7.” No longer is anything a solitary activity. When we’re not in the midst of a swirl of constant communication, we get anxious. Something must be wrong. The potential to be lonely at any given point has increased exponentially. When the standard for constant connectivity has been set, it becomes hard to always meet the quota. The very concept of a Snapchat streak embodies this: Fail to Snapchat someone for a single day and it disappears. You lose. As inherently social beings who can now receive constant stimulation more efficiently, we choose to do so. Having a steady stream of notifications has become something of a status symbol: In “Champions”, Big Sean brags that he “wakes up to like a hundred texts.” Rappers now flaunt money, fame and push notifications. It’s becoming harder to break away from this reality. It’s becoming harder to deal with time alone.

In fact, true alone time is becoming a foreign concept to us, and it is services like Snapchat and Instagram that are readily helping this process along. To accommodate the way in which our lives are all continually bleeding together, Snapchat boasts not only the ephemeral picture messaging that it is known for, but also regular text messaging, voice calling, video calling, and even social networking capabilities via stories. You never have to be alone. With all of these potential channels, you’ll always have your friends in your pocket no matter where you go. We’re all living double lives; there are our real lives, and then there are our electronic ones. But it would seem that we’re coming to prefer the latter.

Now, before you dismiss this simply as cliche (see: ‘teens are too busy texting to experience the real world!’), let us first take a look at the newly burgeoning industry of influencing. For those who may not know (and consider yourselves lucky), currently, there are tens of thousands of people are making a living for themselves through the art Instagram influencing. These “influencers” , as they are called in the industry, are media properties unto themselves, turning good looks and taste into an income stream: Brands pay them to feature their wares. In terms of success. influencers are debatably to our electronic lives as Fortune 500 CEOs are to our real ones. If the number of followers someone has amassed could be translated directly into objective monetary value, these people would be doing backwards dives into pools of gold coins like they were Scrooge McDuck. I think I’ve made my point. However, even with all of the perks that being able to beautifully package your life on a 3×5 inch screen presents, it also has its own unique set of drawbacks.

Marcel Floruss, an influencer himself, has seen the dangers of too much connectivity firsthand. As he puts it, “You sell part of your soul. Because no matter what beautiful moment you enjoy in your life, you’re going to want to take a photo and share it. Distinguishing between when is it my life and when am I creating content is a really big burden.” And although Floruss is undeniably on another level of connectivity altogether, I think his experience is pretty telling of the direction we are headed in.

Luckily, there are some solutions to avoid the impending social singularity. We need boundaries: Clear lines separating our electronic lives from our real ones. When you’re bored, try to not always go for the cheap high that your phone provides. Work towards cutting down on passive phone usage. Download an app like Moment to see how much we are using our phone each day; shock therapy works. If we all do this, we can make sure that our electronic lives become a beneficial extension of our real ones rather than a grotesque counterpart. So send that Snapchat of you with the dog filter. Post that picture of you and your girlfriend in front of the Love sculpture. Hell, even go ahead and write that long, ill-informed Facebook rant that’ll have the unabashed aunts of mutual friends debating in the comments for weeks. Just remember, @ estherthewonderpig will always have more followers than you no matter what you do, so you might as well put a little more effort into your real life while you still can.

 

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
Why Snapchat is Problematic