Two weeks ago, I ended the most toxic relationship of my life: a 587 day Snapchat streak. The problem was not with the receiver, but with the app itself.
For those unfamiliar with Snapchat, consider yourself lucky. The outdated and overused app has been a quintessential part of the 21st century teenager’s existence. Used for both friendly communication between two people and updates to individual “stories,” which show off your pictures and videos from one day to all your contacts, Snapchat is almost certainly on every teenager’s phone.
One of the most idiotic functions of Snapchat is the ability to start streaks. After three days in a row of exchanging pictures with one particular contact, a little fire emoji and the number of consecutive days that you’ve “snapped” each other will pop up next to their name.
I considered myself a Snapchat streak connoisseur. My specialty: maintaining them for a long, long time. I always told my friends “quality over quantity.” In my mind, it was better to have a few streaks showing dedication, than hundreds that lasted for three or four days. 365 days? Been there done that. 400 days? Child’s play. I’m talking about streaks close to 600 days. And up until recently, I was legitimately focused on reaching that achievement.
Looking back, it seems absolutely ridiculous. It’s a virtual number that has no effect on my life. Losing it does nothing to my health or grades. But in middle school, and even up to a few weeks ago, the thought of losing the little fire emoji and number of days we’d been “snap’-ing back gave me anxiety. I couldn’t just end it! It was like declaring you wanted to end a friendship!
After several close calls with almost losing a streak- which happens when you haven’t exchanged pictures for more than 24 hours, I started examining why an intangible app could dominate my emotions like that. Why was it the status quo to have streaks?
I’m not completely giving up Snapchat. I will give it credit where credit is due. Had it not been for Snapchat, I would not have been able to send daily updates to my German exchange partner who lives almost 5,000 miles away from me. It is also the perfect way to share a funny moment or cute picture that you want others to see.
But I can guarantee that 99% of my Snapchats haven’t been anywhere near as interesting. More often than not, I would send my streaks a black screen or grainy picture of my face just to keep the streak “alive.” It wasn’t having a meaningful conversation or actively interacting with them.
I feel like this concept has a lot to do with disconnecting from technology and living your real life. I’m not completely ready to end my all my streaks. Snapchatting is a habit, just like brushing my teeth or making my bed. It will take time and adjustment, but I am confident that sometime in the future, I will log off for one last time.