Are we abusing a good thing? Or does Snapchat just suck?
For the longest time, school and multimedia messaging were completely separate. People could go to school as one person, only to become a completely different person once they no longer had a reason for pleasantries and politeness. Now, an attempt to combine the two worlds has been made with Snapchat’s school community feature. Snapchat describes the feature as “groups [on Snapchat] that you can join to make new friends and share to the community Story.” Although the intentions seem to be good, Snapchat’s core design has always promoted toxic behavior with its star feature being making the things you say and post only exist for a certain amount of time before being deleted forever.
MacEwan has also fallen into this trap, with students fighting amongst each other and bringing up issues that have nothing to do with the school. This brings us to the question of whether the story feature is an actual problem, and if it should even be considered.
I re-downloaded Snapchat and joined MacEwan’s community story to see what it was all about. The first thing I noticed was that, although I had put my graduating year as 2027, I had viewing access to both the 2026 and 2028 graduating classes. Through the lens of a student looking to bond with my fellow classmates, I found this pointless. I didn’t see the point in looking at my under- and upper-classmen’s community stories like they were some sort of spectacle.
But, I did have interactive options. I was able to add an Original Poster (OP) as a friend with one press, like their post, and share it with my other friends. I now had the power to share someone’s post with another person who wasn’t even a MacEwan student. I was also able to directly friend and message the OP without adding them as a friend. These features just didn’t sit right with me. Perhaps I’m a bit paranoid, but I couldn’t help but think of these features as an opportunity for easy access to bullying and fighting.
In regards to the actual posts, the tensions between users often have nothing to do with the school. Another feature I didn’t like was that there didn’t seem to be any attempt at moderating what was being posted in the community stories, which, yet again, falls on Snapchat’s core design.
Students should always be given a space to bond with each other. Technology has allowed us to make friends and voice our thoughts in ways we couldn’t have before. But with this particular problem, Snapchat has proven to be an inherently bad app for communicating. As a community, we must try our best to provide a safe space for everyone, even online. These community stories aren’t doing that.
Graphic by Sam Poier