What do your Snapchat best friends say about you? Or, put in a less sensationalist/more accurate way: what does your Snapchat best friends list do to you?
I’ll be the first to admit I do not know how Snapchat works. I hope I’m not alone in saying I find myself confused when an individual can send me one or two snaps on a certain day, and suddenly there they are smack on my best friends list. I didn’t even send one back! I just added this person as a friend! There are plenty of other people I Snapchat more frequently—why aren’t they on my best friends list now?
Snapchat’s frequently asked questions section doesn’t help. According to them, our best friends are picked by a “magical algorithm.” OK, aside from sounding like my explanation of just about every mathematical rule I don’t understand, what does this mean? Well, Snapchat doesn’t elaborate. That’s all we are given. The way our “best friends” are picked is left a mystery. Oh well, it’s not like it’s that big of a deal, right? This is just a social media site's way of making it easier to use their app. This “magical algorithm” can’t have any tangible repercussions, can it? Well, unoriginal rhetorical questions you could very well find in a fifth grader's essay, I wouldn’t be writing this article if I thought so.
Let’s return to the example earlier. Say my Snapchat best friends list consists of: 1) Friend A, 2) Friend B, and 3) Friend D (betcha thought it would be C. Gotta keep ya awake). I add Friend C one day. S/he sends me two snaps that day. Suddenly, Friend D has been replaced by Friend C on my best friends list! No big deal, right? It’s not like that actually means this new Friend C is a better friend to me than Friend D, does it? (Shoot, told myself I was done with the poorly written rhetorical questions.) Of course, it doesn’t. However, consider what a Snapchat best friend means. Throughout my day, I’ll happen to see a variety of things I feel are worth a Snapchat. A stray cat, Batman riding around on a bicycle, or maybe someone wrote “butts” on the white board without the professor noticing. I’ll take a quick snap, send it to a select few people, and continue on my day. But who are those select few people? Snapchat’s “thing” is quick, easy photo sharing. I’m going to share it to the people who are quickest and easiest to send it to: my “best friends.” This is when Snapchat’s “magical algorithm” takes a very real roll in my social life.
Maybe Friend D’s (remember this is the friend that got unjustly booted from the esteemed realm of my Snapchat best friends list) name starts with an "S." Let’s be honest. Unless this is some Snapsterpiece (wow, I love that word) that I spent several minutes doodling on, I will not deem it worth my time to scroll down to the dark trenches of the alphabet just to let my Friend D know that the Bagel Bites I bought only have seven instead of eight. (Who am I kidding? That is a huge deal that deserves a letter to Ore Ida and a Facebook post.) Instead, I will simply click all of my best friends and continue walking to class. Now, Friend C, the wrongful heir to Friend D’s spot, responds to my snap. I respond to his/her’s, and so on and so forth. Before I know it, I’m snapping Friend C several times a day, we talk more than usual. S/he is now one of my better friends.
This is not so farfetched, in fact, I can assure you it has happened to me. This is a fantastic example of technology affecting my social life in ways that I have no control over! A random “magical algorithm” has now just helped me lose contact with one of my friends while forming a new friendship with someone else.
Snapchat isn’t the only place I see this happening. I know for a fact my interest in texting someone depends heavily on whether or not they have an iPhone. If I’m texting in clas
s, my dorm, or some other appropriate place to text, I am much quicker to respond, likely to type longer responses if I can text via laptop, which is only possible to do with someone who is also using a Mac product. At a time in my life where some of my closest old relationships are being limited to text, this has a scarily large impact.
I don’t think this is bad. Well, maybe I think this is bad. I’m starting to lose control over who my closest friends are. Now, I know all this could be solved by simply a few extra seconds or so of effort but…ugh...ya know?
While I’m not entirely sure if this is good or bad, one this is for sure: it is incredibly interesting. What does this mean for the future? Eventually, will technology and its “magical algorithms” simply handle our entire social life for us? Are social skills on their way to extinction? Wow, an anxiety riddled awkward person can only dream.
(Also, I apologize about all the parentheses; I dunno what got into me.)