“For nothing is concealed that will not be uncovered, or hidden that will not be made known.” Luke 8:18
Chloe Langr: I deleted Snapchat off of my phone about a year and a half ago. I saw how a lack of permanence with the pictures taken on the app encouraged users to objectify themselves and others. But my biggest complaint with the app was that I couldn’t stand the objectifying ads that were in the sponsored story section. After all, Cosmo and BuzzFeed rarely had much to say that improved the quality of my day.
Even though I’ve been off of Snapchat for quite a while, friends and siblings still regularly ask me why I don’t have the app. So when Adam asked me to tackle the subject with him, I was excited.
Adam Urban: Several months ago I was talking to high school students about love and relationships. After the talk, a question and answer session was held about how to navigate dating. A young girl proceeded to inform me that her flirtatious crush didn’t always Snapchat her back. She was concerned because this guy snapped many girls, and only seemed concerned with her when she gave him extra attention. She asked if their Snapchat streak was long enough to be considered “talking.”
In other instances I will be listening to someone tell me about their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. They often state that they are having a hard time getting past the emotional and sometimes physical pain of the breakup. It is not uncommon to hear, “we don’t talk, but snap all the time.”
After hearing these heartbreaking experiences, I decided to examine and dissect the nature of these apps.
Chloe: As if relationships aren’t complicated enough . . . We sure don’t do ourselves any favors when we muddy the water even more with unintentional interactions (especially on social media). I found that most of the time when those I knew around me were using Snapchat, it was often to talk to someone they were either in a relationship with or wanted to be in a relationship with. There’s nothing wrong with having a conversation with someone – but the ‘story’ feature of Snapchat allows people to get a peek into your everyday life without spending any time with you. You could feel like you knew the other person intimately, even if you had never talked to them.
The origins of Snapchat are fascinating, too. Reggie Brown, a Stanford University student who told his classmates back in 2011 that he wished that some of the photos he had sent to a girl would just disappear, created the app. He marketed the app as a consequence free way to sext. When you add in the fact that over 25% of people who use Snapchat on a regular basis are in high school, it’s not a good situation at all. But it doesn’t get better when Snapchat users hit college either – data gathered by Match.com revealed that millennials are 290% more likely than Generation X to use Snapchat for sexual reasons.
Adam: Working with high school and college students, I see more abuse on Snapchat than any other social media platform. I repeatedly hear young people sending inappropriate content, having unhealthy emotional attachment to people or past relationships, and communication being reduced to still frames and acronyms.
A picture may say a thousand words, but in a generation where words are abundant and taken for granted, it robs us of any true story written on our hearts. When once friends would share their time, they now simply share fragments of life. Inclinations, emotions, and details deleted like the pictures sent.
I don’t know about you, Chloe, but for me this is a little scary.
Chloe: I totally agree – sexting has been so normalized on Snapchat that it doesn’t stop even when you end a relationship. There are tons of threads on Reddit where people find out that their current boyfriend or girlfriend is still sending sexts to their ex via Snapchat.
On the other side of the spectrum, just this week Snapchat announced that they’re putting together an original show called “Ghost Hunt.” It’s all about ‘ghosting’ – or unexpectedly stopping all communication with the people you date. The ironic part is that Snapchat stories encourage limited communication. You don’t have to talk to someone to find out how their day was because you can just click their Snapchat story and see what is going on in their life. . . without ever having a conversation about it at all. Instead of investing into authentic friendships and relationships, it can be tempting to use other people and their stories for pleasure or entertainment without getting to know them as a person.
Adam: Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen said “We must remember to love people and use things, rather than use people and love things.”
Chloe: Exactly. And not only are we called to love people, but we’re called to selfless love. It’s like Saint Pope John Paul II wrote in Love and Responsibility, “Love between man and woman cannot be built without sacrifices and self-denial.” Not only does Snapchat discourage intentionality, but it discourages selflessness as well. Exhibit A? Selfies.
Adam: The “selfie” generation has become the selfless generation. Hidden behind 12 megapixel cameras and glass screens we have forgotten how to share the most important gift of our self. Not some watered-down five or ten second picture or clip, but our personality, quarks, mannerisms, joys, sufferings, and goals. The very nature of Snapchat and apps like it delete what is real. Everything that is true, good, and beautiful cannot be deleted or vanish away.
What are your thoughts on Snapchat? Let us know in the comments.