I Ended My Snapchat Streaks. It Was Worth It.
Image courtesy of Instamber
I went through a breakup in 2018. I decided, in order to avoid falling into the inevitable cycle of stalking that would soon follow, that I needed to step away from social media. I deleted Instagram pretty easily. I wouldn’t really miss endless scrolling and comparing myself to girls my age who were much cooler than me. I couldn’t let go of my Snapchat streaks, though.
Snapchat streaks are the main form of communication via snapchat- you and your ‘friends’ (SEVERE air quotes on this word) send direct images to one another every single day. You would be sure to write the word ‘streaks’ on the image so people didn’t get confused and think you were randomly snapchatting them with no just cause.
I put a lot of time and effort into snapchat streaks- -sometimes even texting friends “WE’RE ABOUT TO LOSE OUR STREAK!” so they’d snapchat me back. I would often wait until I was doing something exciting in the day to send my ‘friends’ streaks so they would think my life was more exciting than it was. I would send streaks when I was out with my friends, or looking really pretty, or reading a book #maincharactervibes. I put a lot of effort into streaks, and to be honest, I felt that if I ended my streaks when I deleted social media, I would kind of be ending some of my friendships.
I was clearly passionate about keeping these streaks, so I asked one of my friends to take them over. Over a month later, my friend was still sending direct snapchats back and forth with my friends, blank screen that just said the word ‘streaks.’ And when I use the term “friends,” I really mean people who I barely spoke to. And when I say ‘people who I barely spoke to,” I mean some of them I passed in the halls but I had never spoken a word to in my entire life - in passing or on Snapchat. Some of them were my friends too, sure, but they were keeping in contact with me via text message.
The more time that passed, the less I wanted to be on social media, and the more I started to realize the effects that apps like Snapchat had on my life. I sent photos of myself so often on the app that I felt this constant pressure to look pretty- conventionally pretty. As a result, I started straightening my naturally curly hair nearly every day of grade ten and eleven.
Snapchat streaks also allowed me to stay in a bubble - I didn’t call my friends or see them as often because I could just keep our streak and that was everything I needed to put into the friendship.
My time away from social media made me view the whole concept of snapchat streaks in a new light, and the more I thought about them, the more ridiculous the concept became to me. Snapchat streaks were affecting my entire life - my time, the way I looked, my friendships. When I went back to Snapchat a few months later I decided to end all of my streaks. I couldn’t justify them anymore.
Ending snapchat streaks was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done - but exceedingly difficult at the time. I remember literally feeling sick to my stomach as I watched all the timers on my streaks that meant if I didn’t respond soon I’d lose them. I am being honest when I say I went through withdrawals after I ended them, even though I hadn’t been on the app for a long period of time.
I would be lying if I said it wasn’t easy to get addicted to the idea again, and I would also be lying if I said I haven’t had streaks since then. The difference now, though, is that the streak is a result of talking to a person every single day, not a result of sending a blank image with the word streaks in order to make a number grow.
I have a severe love/hate relationship with social media, but I am a strong believer that social media can be a force for good when used correctly. I just think it's so easy to misuse it and we have to be intentional.
I still use Snapchat. I still spend too much time on it sometimes. The difference now is that I actually talk to and communicate with people on the app - I send videos and voice notes and I don’t rely on the app as my only form of communication with the person. I don’t have anyone on my Snapchat that I feel like I need to prove myself to by looking a certain way.
I know I communicate with the right people on Snapchat, because I decided to detox from social media again and deleted it on January 1st (2022), and the people who I talk to on Snapchat still send me videos via text and keep in touch :)
I needed to step away in order to see the effects social media was having on my life, and even now, I delete it every so often when I notice myself starting to develop addictive or unhealthy tendencies.
Along with many others, I have been aware of the harmful effects of Instagram for quite sometime. I had no idea that Snapchat, the single most popular social media platform (https://www.wacocsd.org/vnews/display.v/ART/5aabcd1e80205) was just as dangerous. Studies find Snapchat leads to an increase in anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-esteem and body image issues (https://informaconnect.com/the-dangers-of-snapchat-on-mental-health/).
I didn’t delete Snapchat originally because I thought I was addicted or that it was bad for me. I deleted it simply because of a breakup. It was only after I deleted it that I realized how uncomfortable it made me - and that something needed to change. Although it was briefly hard for my 16-year-old self, ending snapchat streaks had amazing effects on my life.
I often think of all the young boys and girls who don’t realize how addicted they are and what dangerous effects something as seemingly harmless as snapchat streaks are having on their lives.
My advice is to reconsider your relationship with social media, and if necessary, set timers, take a break, etc.
I still use apps like Instagram and Snapchat, but one small decision has made all the difference in my relationship with the platforms, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the decision my younger self made (and to be honest - for my high school breakup, because it triggered something pretty life-changing :))