In a month of ‘scroll free September’, I stopped to think about my own social media use, and whether I could give up for a month. While I’d be inclined to say of course, the truth is that I’d probably struggle. Though I think there are some social media’s I could live without: Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook… and I’d struggle to part with Instagram, the real one I don’t think I could live without is Snapchat.
Although Snapchat’s employees in charge of retention definitely is to play for the reason I can’t seem to put the app down, really, for me, I thrive off the human communication – even though the communication, ironically, isn’t actually human. Since downloading the app in year 8, I am pretty confident in saying I haven’t gone without using the app for more than one day at a time. It has revolutionised the way people communicate and has kept people inticed day in and day out to stay connected. How? Through streaks.
And while the world is becoming more aware of the health risks associated with overuse of social media, and teenagers are fed up with the toxic nature of maintaining streaks – I say, I like them. Though I do think it is tedious and pointless to literally send “streaks” instead of maintaining a conversation with someone, I fundamentally believe that without having had those streaks, I wouldn’t have maintained as many connections as I did. Having met so many people from outside the friends I speak to at school, it’s hard to keep up with them all. However, as soon as you combine this need to maintain a number on a screen with the want to stay in contact, it becomes a great way to speak to people you haven’t seen in years.
More than that, if I’m speaking to someone every day, I’m so much more likely to organise a time to meet up with them also, which only strengthens a relationship – all because of a gamification of the art of communication.
Not only does it allow me to keep in contact with people I might otherwise neglect, I also get to speak to people I’ve never even met before. In fact, my greatest streak is actually with someone who I spoke to for two years before I met in person. Had I never ‘started’ or maintained that streak, I don’t think I would have heard of her name or ever properly met her and made a new friend.
Once you start to think about all the connections you have and how hard they are to maintain, streaks become such a trivial yet useful tool for maintaining easy contact with those around you. It’s convenient and quick, yet allows you to keep working on friendships longer than if you could only see each other in person. Since the days of sending letters to pen pals, society has completely shifted into a new, dynamic version of its old self, and fast-paced process can only be matched with that of fast-paced communication, incentivised by the ever prominent and hated snapchat streaks.
So should we be keeping snapchat streaks?
I guess the answer really depends on the user, and while I wish I was better and switching off from my mobile phone and just being free without having to think about the apps that seem to control our lives, I do have Snapchat to thank for many of the connections i’ve managed to keep and create as a result of their addicting nature. So all in all? Sensible, positive use of these channels is the key to unlocking a wider network, however misuse it and you’ll find yourself worse off than before. There will always be a fine line between use and overuse, and as ever in the volatile digital world, this line is extra fine.