In an effort to not be dramatic, I will be frank: Snapchat was ruining my life.
Every goal of mine slipped by the flip side because I became a voyeur of my friends’ and acquaintances’ days. When my alarm would sound each morning at 7 a.m. in anticipation of productive plans, I’d silence the bell in exchange for the prior evenings of all those who’d captured their nights. When work proved to be too work-y, I’d pause tasks to watch others broadcast theirs. During those crucial hours of relaxation — when one should be dimming their mental din and tucking into covers, I was just brightening the light, seeing what everyone did for dinner, watched on TV, ate for lunch.
And it was so mind-numbingly boring, I cannot tell you.
I dreaded opening up my Snapchat. It was yet another unread inbox, a list of various communications at which I had failed. On the right swipe: a messy series of direct Snaps I’d yet to respond to; on the left: looming loops of completed days that I, now, too, had to complete.
Compulsion was the only force that drove me forward — I hated having Snaps unopened or unread. Even worse was watching yet another anime filter calibrate itself properly (finally, Jesus) on the center a Snap-friend’s head.
Then one day I killed the app. I pressed my thumb mercilessly into the yellow icon until it jingled, hit X in its top left corner and responded to the ominous question, “Are you sure you want to do this?” with a succinct and cold-blooded, “Yes.”
For a day I lived in peace. But then Snapchat came back to haunt me.
Phantom notifications would pop up on my screen, little ghosts letting me know that someone had sent me something, reminding me that I couldn’t see it unless I re-sold my soul. Friends would reference events that I hadn’t participated in as a third party. Best friends sent me unprompted texts about an ex who I could no longer keep tabs on. At social gatherings, I had to explain why I wasn’t Snapping as if I wasn’t drinking. (“Is she pregnant?”)
I felt out of the loop.
But not left out.
Without a doubt, my productivity increased. My curmudgeonly mood was more consistently good. Gone was the feeling of obligation, of hating those I hate-followed, of begrudging those I return-the-favor-followed and missing anyone you’re not supposed to miss.
I did miss: my closest friends who live far away whose lives felt tangible because of the app; the daily lens of my nearby friends because it’s a comfort to know what they’re up to; and every once in a while, the odd, “Hello!” plus my even rarer response back.
So less than one month later, I downloaded it again.
Alarming although not so surprising psychological studies have been done that show that couples without children rank happier than couples with children. Less money woes, no late nights spent wide awake over whether or not their offspring are okay. Endless travel. Uninterrupted sex.
And yet, if you bring this up to any parents you know, they will say that, yes, kids are stressful, but they can’t imagine a world without their children in it.
If that isn’t a metaphor for our experience with modern technology, then I don’t know what is.
Collaged GIF by Krista Anna Lewis.