I joined Snapchat. There, I said it. I admit it. If you want proof, find me here.
I joined Snapchat because I was sick of hearing people joining and loving it. I knew all the bad press, all the misuses of the app, but I decided to give it a shot. And I have to say, I kind of love it.
Why, you ask?
Because there’s no likes.
Still don’t get what I’m saying?
Ok, I’ll explain.
Snapchat is an awful user experience.
- It’s nearly impossible to add friends unless they’re in your phone contacts.
- You can’t use it on a computer, only through a phone application.
- The first screen you see when you open the app is your camera. There’s no explanation for what to do after that.
- There’s no way to provide public feedback for something a friend has posted. No likes, no shares, no retweets, no comments. Only private messages (Snaps), and posts to your Story (those stay posted for your friends to view for 24 hours).
And that last one, there’s the rub. Snapchat is a social network that has almost zero marketability. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram—users push their content and their products all the time. It’s overrun with content videos and opinion pieces. None of that stuff works on Snapchat. No links. Just stories using pictures and videos.
The Danger of the Public Forum
There’s a danger to using a public forum that allows public feedback on everything posted. You begin to share your life in a way that will be appreciated by as many as possible. Just look at this profile of a 13 year-old, she deletes every picture that doesn’t get enough likes. No joke.
Throughout the four gospel accounts, Jesus performs various signs and wonders, many ending with Jesus telling those He touches and heals not to tell anyone. And there’s the time when He tells His disciples not to tell anyone that they think Jesus is the Messiah (Mark 8).
People have come up with various explanations for this, but I think one reason for this is that Jesus didn’t want to become a celebrity. That, in fact, humans were not meant to receive unending praise, our egos can’t handle all of it.
Maybe this is why Jesus taught his followers to go into their rooms to pray. And maybe this is why he said “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others” (Matthew 6:1, NLT). Not only, he says, will you lose your heavenly reward, but it’s likely you’ll become a slave to the admiration of others.
Shaping Your Life for Likes
Now, let me be clear, I’m not saying that being on Snapchat is a Jesus-approved thing, or that the people who use other social networks are less godly (God knows, I’m on all of them). I’m simply sharing my own struggle with watching some of my favorite social networks become great places for platforms and marketing and content and commercials. Once you can get enough likes, social networks make better business platforms than relational connectors.
When we’re telling the stories of our lives on networks that universally utilize public feedback forums, we begin to shape our lives for likes, and this is damaging to our souls. We create a false reality for the sake of improved reach and likeability, instead of the messy reality, where we need God’s help each and every day.
In a sense, a life adjusted for likes becomes a gospel-less life where we can be good enough, and everyone else will like that. I want social networks to be social, but I worry I shape my life too much for the sake of everyone else appreciating it and I don’t like that.