Snapchat: Why I Decided To Delete It
Before you throw out all the reasons why I’m taking this way to seriously or that this doesn’t relate to you, let me tell you: I’m not asking you to delete Snapchat. Whether you intend to keep using it, to use it more, or to use it less, is up to you. But I’m giving you the reasons why I found it detrimental to my life and how it began to feed into my own selfish desires.
A couple months ago, I deleted Snapchat to help get rid of a distraction that could take away from my academic studies. During this past winter break, I went to get dessert with some friends and decided then that I would download the app again. As we got in line for food, I opened the app and saw all the snaps my friends had sent me and quickly felt the need to catch up on everything that had happened. While I sent my first snap to my friends, I was suddenly struck with this though: “Does it honestly matter that my friends know that I am eating this awesome matcha patbingsoo (shaved ice) right now? Is it important that I let them know right this moment that I am having food?” By the time I had finished taking, editing, captioning, and sending the Snapchat, we were already at the front of the line.
Instead of talking to my friends and figuring out what I wanted to order, I was so caught up in sending a great Snapchat that I caused trouble for both the friend who was ordering for us and the cashier who was waiting on our order. In the end was it worth it? Mmm no, not really.
This is the biggest problem I have with Snapchat: it takes us away the simplicity of enjoying moments with the people and places we are with, and helps us fabricate a fun and exciting Internet persona to put on display.
Though the same problems can be said of any social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even texting), I have come to believe that Snapchat has the greatest potential danger.
If you read the section below written by Grant, you’ll begin to see that Snapchat was made to promote secrecy and lose accountability. It was not meant to be used to keep in touch with old friends, showcase your photography skills, or help capture the moment. Once a snap is sent and someone watches it, it’s gone. Poof. At the end of the day, Snapchat is only meant to be a momentary fleeting pleasure.
The second thing that I started to realize while using Snapchat is that it induces FOMO (Fear of Missing out). Before going to sleep, I would often lie in bed, tapping away at people’s Snapchat stories to see what they were up to. Looking back, I realize that by doing so, I had subconsciously planted seeds of dissatisfaction, which would start to blossom and grow many months after.
Dissatisfaction is sneaky. It’s not like I woke up one day and said, “I will decide to be dissatisfied today.” It spreads slowly and quietly, like a disease that eats away at your normal healthy life. I saw this in myself during the SF Warrior’s Parade. It felt like all my church friends, high school friends, college friends, and basically the entire world seemed to be in Oakland-completely decked out in Warriors gear. I thought to myself, “Man. I wish I could be there. Everyone looks like they’re having so much fun.” Then I realized. I had FOMO. There had been so many instances and signs before this, but I had simply refused to acknowledge that it was there and how it was affecting me.
People don’t post boring things on Snapchat. They post the fun things to show the excitement that is going on in their lives.
That being said, it is a combination of these things, taking me away from the present, causing dissatisfaction, etc., that has caused me to come to the conclusion that Snapchat has been more of a detriment than a benefit, and to delete Snapchat this following year.
For clarity’s sake, I am not blaming the platform. It could just as easily be Facebook or Instagram that does these things. But for me, Snapchat was the medium that God used to reveal my own sin and how easily I can unknowingly fall prey to it. And while it is easy to point fingers and call out a brother or sister who struggles with these things, how often do we find ourselves in the same exact dilemma? We spend so much time trying to capture that Facebook-worthy profile picture or an Instagram-worthy brunch picture, all the while missing out on the actual experience.
So as you make your New Year’s Resolutions today, I ask you to evaluate yourselves and see if the following questions are helpful:
- Are you continually causing others to wait for you while you Snapchat your friends or edit your Instagram photos?
- Do you find yourself saying “What?” constantly or asking others to repeat what they said because you missed it while on your phone?
- Can you sit through a meal without checking your phone to see who may or may not have texted you?
Social media platforms are inevitably going to be a part of our lives, but whether or not it controls us is up to us.
Snapchat: Temptation & Liberty
Therefore it inherently tears down the accountability of its users. Snapchat is designed to make the user’s actions forgotten, unrecorded, unavailable for future scrutiny. That itself is a temptation. Scripture unilaterally recommends fleeing sexual temptation, from Joseph’s example in Genesis 39 to the instructions of Proverbs 5-7 to Jesus’ hyperbole in Matthew 5 to Paul’s command to “Flee immorality” in 1 Corinthians 6:18. In 2 Timothy 2:22 to “flee youthful lusts,” with a context not indicative of sexual immorality, but a more general preoccupation with contentious and worldly things, Paul establishes that some temptation should be fled. Why on earth, given the testimony of Scripture, would the Christian intentionally walk into temptation? Does he not pray, “Lead me not into temptation?” Christians pursue accountability and safety from sin. Snapchat runs from both of those.
This is not to say Snapchat is itself morally tainted, any more than a phone or computer or any other physical object could be morally tainted. But with these other examples, we have positive reasons to use the technology. Computers have Bible software and let us do our work, the internet connects us to the Christian blogosphere, phones and social media naturally extend our communication and ministry with friends both Christian and non Christian. Snapchat would seem to offer us this same offsetting benefit. But with Facebook, Twitter, email, Instagram, and texting, Snapchat is redundant. Snapchat lacks a raison d’être. Adding it to your Apps folder therefore only adds its negatives without any of its positives.
Many people will now dismiss me as a legalist. I’d like to argue that is not the case. You have a Christian liberty to use Snapchat. But Christian liberty is bounded by love. Is keeping Snapchat on your phone the most loving thing you can do? Look at Calvin’s section of this article. I think that answers the question.
But also, Snapchat users have an empirically observed habit of telling other people to get Snapchat. If this persists within a church, then that user will tell someone who either (1) has very strong convictions against Snapchat, or (2) is much more sensitive to the inherent temptations of Snapchat, that he or she should download this sick photo sharing app called Snapchat. This bears similarity to the situations regarding meat offered to idols as explained in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8. Many believers in the early church were opposed to eating meat offered to idols, because they saw that as idolatry. Paul noted that since idols aren’t real gods, meat offered to them has been in no way morally tainted. That meat was morally neutral. Christians had the liberty to eat it. But Paul would lay aside his liberty as necessary not to tempt or provoke his brothers; he wouldn’t eat meat offered to idols. He instructed both the Romans and Corinthians to do the same. Snapchat usage today is much like eating meat offered to idols.
When you dismiss those opposed to your actions as legalistic and proceed in participating in your liberties, you may be right, but are you loving? Which have you shown more love for, that liberty, that earthly pleasure, or your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Does that mean you need to change your lifestyle? Might you perhaps avoid certain actions in certain company for the benefit of those you’re around? I think you should study Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8-10 and decide.
Snapchat: Purpose & Intentionality
I was the last to write thoughts so I have little to add. I pretty much agree with what Calvin and Grant wrote. But here are some added thoughts to what both of their thoughts as a sort of response/added dialogue.
To Calvin’s thoughts, I’d like to emphasize his point on being present. The irony in Snapchat (and very possibly other forms of social media), is that in the attempt to capture the moment and share it with friends, we end up missing out on it. I am a foremost offender in this area (though I don’t use snapchat), but I am reminded by a Jim Elliot quote:
Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.
As 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, ““All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.” Like Calvin, I am not calling you to discard all forms of social media, but I am calling you to think. Is it helpful? Does it build up? I hope this is the attitude you strive for as you pursue a God-honoring life. A helpful question to answer is: “Why?” We don’t always need a super “spiritual” motivation for everything we do, but it’s wise and helpful to consider the wisdom of God with gray areas like Snapchat!
In the end, social media seems like an area where we all could use a little self control. But, if it is indeed causing us to sin, it’s much better to cut it off! (cf. Mt. 5:30).
I’d affirm Grant’s thought. To those who deem his stance “legalistic,” I’d say that Grant is merely analyzing Snapchat for what it is through the lens of Scripture and has regarded it unwise though not inherently morally wrong. This is simply Grant’s perspective on the matter as he sees it in light of Scripture. Again, I’d encourage us to do likewise and build our own convictions and answer the “whys” in most of what we do!