Staring at her iPhone screen, a young girl discovers that over a year and a half of her hard work and dedication has been halted. Feeling discouraged, she rushes to her group chat to explain the dilemma. “Guys,” she types, “He just broke our streak.”
She’s faced the first attack marking the end of an era: the lost streak. A weapon any teenager is all too familiar with. The official sign of a broken bond, and part of the practice most of them engage in daily.
Welcome to the world of Snapstreaks. A world consisting of black screens at 6:52 AM and endless fire emojis. A world where a mere 24 hours can end a friendship. A world with no positive effect on its inhabitants. A world consuming America’s youth.
The concept of Snapstreaks was released in early April of 2015 and caused a plague of confusion across the internet. Millions of users took note of the fiery emoji appearing next to their contacts and wondered what purpose it served. It’s meaning? Someone’s on a Snapstreak. This indicates that two users have snapped back and forth every day for at least three days in a row. The longer they snap, the higher the streak.
Allowing users to connect with friends more frequently and reach out to new people, Snapstreaks were warmly welcomed by users. For these reasons, teens raved about the feature, and it started out as a fun thing to do with their time. But the purpose has changed over the past two years.
Today, society’s social media-monster millennials have transformed the feature into what some consider a way of life and what others believe is a waste of time. As they become surrounded by filter using, Instagram perusing meme enthusiasts, adults question the purpose of the constant selfies with tongues out and peace signs up. Teens have a simple response: “I’m answering my streaks.” As an integral part of Snapchat’s 173 million daily users, whether they’re aiming for the “100” emoji or the coveted pink hearts, teens dedicate their time and effort into maintaining their streaks. How do they do this? The process is simple for some, never-ending for others.
When asked when and how they keep their streaks, many sophomores gave varying answers. Some users have specific times and areas for doing their streaks, including one student with a very particular routine. “I take a picture of my feet on my kitchen floor with the time on it before I leave for the bus,” she explains. “I send it out to all my streaks and do the same the next day.” Other students are put off by such routines, claiming they don’t “do streaks because it’s much more fun to answer people personally.” They snap whoever they want, whenever they want, without being concerned about an insignificant number.
Regardless of whether their streaks are one-and-done or a constant communication, no one can deny the rapid rise of this social trend. According to Omnicore, over one million snaps are shared each day by active users opening the app an average of nearly twenty times daily. This staggering amount is largely due to the invention of the Snapstreaks feature. As stated in Mediakix, Snapchat has recently seen more growth than ever, gaining an even larger platform than Twitter and proving itself as a force to be reckoned with. However, not all users are fans of the new way the app is being used.
“Streaks are actually ruining our generation,” said Casey, a sophomore. “You know, everyone thinks it’s an obligation, which it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be something fun to do with your friends, but that’s really not what everyone makes it. There’s no communication with one another it’s just like, ‘Oh I have to do my streaks.’” Casey is not the only one with this opinion. Many of her classmates agree with her, saying “people take the purpose of Snapchat the wrong way” and “they keep streaks just to have a streak, not to talk to their friends.” Of fifteen students interviewed, all fifteen expressed feelings of aversion about keeping Snapstreaks.
Some dislike the concept because “it’s just a number but people care.” Others hate the fact that “it’s a waste of time over something pretty pointless.” Casey summarized both her and her peers’ feelings in six words: “Streaks are irrelevant. I hate them.” However, their negative opinions reveal an enormous contradiction— Snapchat users don’t like keeping streaks, yet they do it every day.
When asked about the purpose of keeping streaks, teens appeared dumbfounded and had to think for a second before coming to a typical conclusion: “I don’t know, I guess because everyone else does.” Their answer can explain the popularity of many trends. Teenagers feel the need to jump on the bandwagon, to follow the leader, over something they all know is worthless. But, with streaks upwards of seven hundred days, there must be something about Snapstreaks that attracted people in the first place.
The appeal of Snapstreaks to teenagers can be narrowed down to a few factors. Competition. Striving to have the highest streaks among all of their friends. Pride. Feeling impressed with themselves after reaching one hundred days and seeing that bright red emoji signify their achievement. Bragging rights. Earning the privilege to post on all of their social media accounts, celebrating a new year-long streak. These pretentious positives make a lost streak a bit of a disappointment. Tenth grader Ysabelle spoke to many of her classmates’ beliefs, saying, “I don’t really care about losing a streak because I can always get it back. The worst is losing a high streak with a good friend though because we worked so hard to get it with so much dedication and if we lose it we have to start all over.”
Whether they keep streaks or not, most people can agree that the concept is rather pointless and accomplishes nothing other than the rise of a number each day. This number, however, has become a social phenomenon taken to new extremities. Victories are celebrated after 365 days of selfies. Battles ensue between once best friends. Wars are ignited by one fire emoji. One thing is for sure, Snapchat users have become an army, and their streaks won’t be stopping any time soon.