Snapchat “pics” away at your free time

Annie Campbell, Sports Editor

According to Omnicore Digital Marketing, 78 percent of Americans hold a social media account. I think it is safe to say that almost all Algonquin students fit into this percentage.

Jumping in head first to the social media world is Snapchat. Snapchat’s popularity grew as much in one year as Twitter has in four years combined. Omnicore reports that 60 percent of Snapchat users are 13-24 years old.

This Lenten season, 40 days in which Catholics are encouraged to make a sacrifice or give something up, I decided to challenge myself and end my use of Snapchat.

Yes, I did in fact lose all of my streaks, and, yes, I did lose a few friends, but I am still alive and well.

For those of you (most likely older readers) unfamiliar with this social media outlet, Snapchat is an app that allows people to take pictures and  draw or insert text on the photo (a “Snap”). You also have to determine how many seconds (1-10) the recipient can view it before the file disappears from the recipient’s device. A “streak” appears next to your friend’s name and has the number of days that you and a friend have consecutively Snapped each other. If you and your friend don’t both send a snap for a day, then your streak is over. And then you die (figuratively of course).

Prior to Lent I was an avid Snapchat user, probably Snapping around ten people a day, which seemed like a lot to me, but some people can Snapchat 20-30 different people a day. I had streaks hundreds of days long, which was quite impressive if I do say so myself, and I was a huge fan of checking snap stories.

What’s a snap story, you may ask? Well, a Snapchat story allows users the option to string together pictures and videos taken throughout the day. Similar to other social media sites (particularly Facebook’s timeline), this “slideshow” is public for all Snapchat friends.

Before Lent I spent my spare time in between classes attempting to load Snapchats of my friends in the class over on the school wifi. Or I was pondering the essential question of  whether to use the black and white or the brighten filter on the snap of my friend eating lunch to put on my story.

Forty days was very long, I am not going to lie to you, but I learned a lot.

First off, on the weekends, I had no idea what other people were doing. Checking people’s stories and discovering what they are up to had become almost second nature to the point I didn’t even realize I was doing it, until this power was gone.

And the funny thing is, not knowing what every single person in my extended social circle is doing  is actually ok! Who cares that I do not know who is having a party or who is at the Celtics game? All that matters is what I am doing, and how am I spending my time. And if I really cared what a friend was up to I could take the 30 seconds to text or even call them personally.

I also learned how most of the notifications on my phone were from Snapchat. For the first week of Lent I found myself constantly looking at my phone, to find that I had nothing there. This was sad, at first.

But then I realized that not being bombarded with notifications was ok, too! Not having a million Snapchats made me put my phone down and actually talk to people. I did not realize how often I looked at my phone, just because of Snapchat.

Also, walking through the halls, or anytime that I was alone, Snapchat was my go-to thing because it took up time. That is what made it so deadly! You might not realize it but you could spend almost ten minutes, just looking at other people’s stories. And you know what? When you’re constantly looking at other people’s stories you’re not living your own.

Forty days have come and gone, Lent has ended, and I am technically allowed to use Snapchat again. However, although I have rejoined the Snapchat universe, I have decided to keep my notifications turned off so I do not feel tempted to answer right away.

So far it has helped to me stay on task when doing homework, and not having notifications makes me look at my phone less and actually spend more time with family and friends.

Just to give you some perspective, according to our friends at Omnicore there are at 500 million Snapchat stories per day (calculated at 10 seconds each), it would take over 158 years to watch an entire day of Snapchat stories.

So next time you find yourself lying in bed Snapping until the wee hours of the morning or walking between classes with your face buried in your phone, think about the extra sleep you could get or the time you could have been spending with your friends. Maybe it’s time to snap a little less and live a little more.