Your phone faintly buzzes twice, lighting up with the display of a badly chosen username. It’s that friend again. You know, the one that has your cell number but insists on snap texting. Praying it’s just a funny article from Buzzfeed, you open the little blue box that enters you into a conversation on social media’s worst platform of communication, knowing it can only get worse from here.
As an avid snapchat user, I was originally open to the update that included snap texting. But after about a day of using it, I was done. The evolution of communication, through increasing technological advances beginning with pagers and landlines, eventually progressed to cell phones and the modern day smartphone. But now, with the invention of social media, there seems to be no limit to our mediums for communication. In fact, constant communication has led to an ever-growing lack of privacy. It’s like that one sophomore that takes an AP class. Suddenly everyone needs to take an AP to “Stay with it,” just like the world of social media. And in a world driven by social media, a feature like snap texting only enhances the invasion and manipulation of privacy, while creating a feeling of complete disconnect between users.
Adding a picture or video to text further enhances the ability of people communicating to understand and connect with each other. It’s the closest thing to in-person interaction. Snap texting fuels the complete opposite feeling. About three texts in, it becomes increasingly difficult to remember what the other person said before, making it even harder to respond. Suddenly, you are focusing more on the form of communication than the actual conversation itself, which defeats the whole purpose. So then you have the other option, of saving every text. I sincerely hope I’m not the only person who feels so awkward saving snap text conversations. Saving a snap conversation shows the other person you are really invested—borderline too invested—in the conversation. But what if, like me, you are usually multitasking and just plain forgetful? Then you face a weird, modern-day ethical dilemma: seem desperate and clingy, or completely uninterested. So most snap conversations are medium length, at best, and full of tension surrounding who will have the last word. This lose-lose situation digresses communication back past letter-writing eras. At least then, if you chose not to respond, it would take the other person a couple days to realize you were blowing them off. Instead, the decisions regarding how much or how little we choose to interact are merely swipes and taps away on snapchat, with instant data that can inform you down to the second you were ignored.
And who doesn’t feel just wonderful knowing that information? It’s the same reason why most people turn off their read receipts on iMessage: to avoid being rude, and to protect their right to privately make decisions about communicating with the other person.
But unlike iMessage conversations, snap texting doesn’t give you the option for this privacy; every aspect of your conversation is public to the other person. It’s like if you were having a face-to-face conversation, and the other person took five minutes to respond, but during the five minutes while they were thinking you could hear inside their mind as they formed new thoughts. That’s the equivalent to knowing how many seconds it’s been since someone opened your snap, and receiving the initial buzz notifying you they are typing.
Snap texting reinforces allusive methods of communication, which defeats the purpose of communication in itself. Instead, it creates competition between people, seeing who can have the upper hand—who is being ignored vs. who is doing the ignoring. Again, this is breeding a kind of conversation that focuses more on the time in between texts than the content of the messages themselves. Now trust me, I am not above the draw to this kind of competitive conversation, and have purposely waited an extra five or ten minutes to open or respond to a message. But, the best conversations I’ve had over snap text are usually lightening fast and revolve around sending or receiving hilarious articles off Cosmo or Buzzfeed. Honestly, I find few things funnier than receiving a screenshot of a word search my friend did, saying they’re a “chocolate chip cookie in the streets” and a “lasagna in the sheets.” All the other occasions, I’ve hated the underlying feeling that I have to perpetrate the “appropriate social media mentality,” where everything I say is perfectly calculated and contributes to an overall image that my life is Pinterest-worthy perfect. Not only does that advocate for a more selfish society, but also in a world where there are already so many ways to fake perfection, yet another social media feature promoting unauthenticated communication is the last thing we need—especially when social media is supposed to provide an outlet for self-expression.
True friendship, or even just basic, decent human interaction never comes from getting to know a fake or planned version of someone. And through the way snap texting is set up, some form of this unauthenticated communication is inevitable. So please, unless you are snap texting me your horoscope off Cosmo or Buzzfeed, just save us both the headache and hit me up on iMessage.