How Snapstreaks are Hurting your Social Life (and 4 ways to make it better)

If you’re using Snapchat (and it’s 2017, so you probably are), then you know all about Snapstreaks. Exchange snaps with a particular friend each day, and your streak begins to rise. If you’re really on a roll, you and your friend will get bumped to the top of each other’s friend lists. You may even earn a golden heart emoji next to your name, meaning your best friend status is all but secure. A lot of friends view Snapstreaks as a sign of success in a relationship. Some use Snapchat with the main goal of hitting double and triple digit streaks. But sometimes, high streaks lead to even higher pressure.

To some, slacking off on a Snapstreak is seen as a major offense. A broken streak can be disappointing. In extreme cases, it can cause drama, and lead to rifts in the friendship. When your favorite app is essentially keeping score of your friendships, it’s easy to get caught up. This is a problem for a number of reasons.

Snapstreaks don’t take quality into account. The Snapchat app has no way of knowing which friends always have your back, and which ones only show up when it’s convenient. Your numbers will tell you which friends check their phones most frequently, but they won’t tell you who is the best listener, the kindest, the most supportive, or the most accepting. You cannot judge the success of your relationships by using a Snapstreak. There are much better ways to do that.

With that in mind, here are four time-tested ways to tell if someone is a true friend:

1. You Spend time Together: A true friendship cannot be sustained by snaps alone. It requires shared experiences, and in-depth conversations. Real friends hang out together. They sit together in the cafeteria, and make plans after school. They are just as happy to talk to you in the hallway as they are via Snapchat. So make sure you’re making the time to have fun with friends in the real world. You might be surprised how quickly you forget about Snapstreaks when you’re all hanging out, having a good time.

2. Your Friends Build you up: When you’re with good friends, you usually feel happy, optimistic, and totally free to be yourself. Your time together will be generally stress-free, and enjoyable. If that’s not the case, you may be spending your time with the wrong people. Do your friends often make you feel nervous, self-conscious, or under-appreciated? If so, you should be careful about investing too much in the friendship. Misunderstandings occur in every relationship, but it shouldn’t be happening too often. Your real friends are the people who are more focused on building you up, than building up their Snapstreaks.

3. Your Friends have your back: It’s one thing to make sure you’re keeping in touch, when you have the incentive of a Snapstreak. But it’s important to know your friends are there for you, even when there’s no obvious reward to be gained. Everybody needs their friends’ support from time to time. Everyone needs occasional cheering up, or a helping hand. Your friends should be happy to come through for you, just as you should be happy to come through for them. If the friendship is strong, you will do this because you care about one another, even though there’s nothing “in it for you.”

4. You Totally get each Other: When you’re with a good friend, everything just seems to fall into place. Conversations flow. You laugh at each other’s jokes. You can compromise on activities easily, and avoid major drama. In its simplest form, a good friend is someone you have a good time with. You get along. You feel like you’re totally in synch. And that’s the kind of thing that can’t be indicated by a number!

Of course, it is entirely possible to have a crazy high Snapstreak with someone, and still count them as a solid real-life friend. But it’s equally possible to have an amazing friend, and no Snapstreak. It’s okay to have expectations for your friends. In fact, it can be a good thing. Just make sure your expectations are all about being treated well. That’s worth more than a golden heart emoji ever could be!

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More