Sam Holstein

Why I Am Deleting My Snapchat

I used to love Snapchat.

Even as recently as last month, I considered Snapchat the only social media invented in the last ten years that was a net improvement on my relationships. Instead of reducing friends to a feed, Snapchat allowed me to access them in a list as I pleased. Self-destructing content meant I could spam someone and it wouldn’t feel like a permanent annoying stain. The fact that I was notified whenever something was saved made me feel safe being vulnerable. And the very casual approach toward snapchats made me feel like I could reach out and form friendships with people I did not know in real life.

Until lately. I’ve been on a push to untangle myself from my devices and reclaim my ability for deep thought and feeling. It’s only after I turned off my notifications for all my other social media and untangled myself from dozens of other slot machines that I noticed how annoying Snapchat is.

And then, all of a sudden, I realized Snapchat is meaningless.

Imagine if every conversation you’ve ever had over Snapchat, you had over text instead. What would that be like? Would those conversations have been less appropriate and respectful, or more? Would those interactions have been more meaningful or less meaningful?

There will be some snapchat conversations that you know you simply wouldn’t have had over text. They were too intimate, or perhaps too risqué. If you wouldn’t trust this person with that text or photo permanently, why are you trusting them with it now? Because you have a guarantee they aren’t saving it?

This tells me what you need for intimacy is impermanence. But if a connection is built on impermanence, it isn’t intimate — just an imitation of it. You’re not speaking truth into being, but the very opposite: speaking temporary things only for twenty-four hours to wipe them away.

Are these the kind of conversations you need in your life?

I’ve had meaningful interactions on Snapchat. In fact, most of them were meaningful. But they would have been more meaningful if someone had sent me a text instead.

And that’s just messages I exchange directly with others. Snap stories are another matter.

Snap stories are insidious. Viewing others stories makes you feel bored, insecure or lonely. Snapchat teaches you to react to that boredom, insecurity or loneliness by generating content for your own story. Soon, they’ve got you keeping an eye out for ‘snapworthy’ things you can add.

Snapchat is a terrible way to handle feelings like loneliness and pain. Because of it’s limited nature, Snapchat interactions do not truly ease loneliness. The only true treatment to loneliness is interaction with people who are physically around you (even if it’s just your mom and dad). They create the need they fill.

Snapchat can’t fix your self-confidence, either. If having friends reply to your stories gives you your self-confidence, then if they ever stop, it will be taken away again. The attention of temperamental young people is not a stable foundation for self-worth. Self-worth must be grounded within.

You are lovable and interesting. You are still lovable and interesting, even if everyone else has a bitmoji and a snap story and you don’t. You are interesting and lovable, even if no one knows your life because it’s not on social media.

(We can forget that sometimes).


Prior to deleting my account, I made an announcement to my snap story that I was considering doing this.

I got the following types of objections:

But this is what I use! How will I keep in touch with you?

Text me. If texting me is so daunting it will stop you from keeping in touch with me, the problem isn’t the medium, the problem is your motivation level.

If having to text me instead of Snapchat me is enough of a barrier to getting in touch with me that someone won’t bother doing it, fine. They’ve self-selected out of friendship with me and that’s all there is to it.

Ephemeral communication has value. Without snapchat, we have no way to share the little moments.

Honestly, we probably shouldn’t be sharing most of these little moments. I don’t care that you’re at brunch with your mom. You don’t care about the fact that I’m getting pho for the third time this week. We should be focusing on our own lives instead.

It’s not just an annoyance. It’s damaging, too. Having a phone that is going off a dozen times a day is bad for your health. It raises your cortisol levels and wreaks havoc on your ability to concentrate. I don’t want to be responsible for ruining both of our brains. I would rather keep in touch with other ways (long emails being a personal favorite).

If snapchat really sucks, the problem isn’t snapchat, the problem is who you talk to.

This is a valuable perspective, and I think there’s a lot to be said for it.

At the same time, the nature of a medium affects our interaction. A conversation that I might have over text or a phone call with you will be degraded in quality if we conduct it over Snapchat. My suspicion is that this degradation is why we fight so often over instant messaging platforms. As the message degrades, we forget about the humanity behind the sender. This is what makes Snapchat a cold and distant platform.

I know that as long as Snapchat is an option for people who want to get in touch with me, they’ll use it. Our relationship will suffer for it. I want quality relationships in my life, and I’m not going to get that via Snapchat.

But the government watches our texts!

This one’s easy. Get Signal and add me. It’s awesome.

If you read this article and thought “wow, this girl can get really addicted to Snapchat” and “I have Snapchat and I’m fine,” I hate to burst your bubble, but you’re not.

I wasn’t particularly into Snapchat in the first place. Snapchat has a feature where they give you a count (I believe of snaps sent), and my count is 9,223. In Snapchat terms this is pretty low. I have a friend whose Snapchat number is 130,837. I have a friend whose Snapchat number is 176,384. Most of my friends are somewhere in the dozens of thousands.

Even so, in the absence of other notifications I am still jangled by often this goes off. How much more still might it go off for someone who is in the twenty thousands? The eighty thousands? What is it doing to their cortisol levels?

Addressing you personally, reader — how much time do you actually spend on Snapchat a day? And don’t estimate. Depending on what kind of phone you have you can check Screen Time for Apple or Google Wellness for Android to get hard numbers. What is your average number of minutes per day? Is it a number you’re happy with?

Are the interactions you’re having on Snapchat valuable and meaningful enough to justify the vast amount of time they’re taking up? Probably not. If any of those conversations had been conducted over text (or even phone calls or in person), they would have so much better.

Or perhaps, like text arguments, pointless exchanges, and staring longingly at a friend’s vacation snap story, it would be better not to have them at all.