Is Snapchat Creating Unhealthy and Unsafe Competition?
Snapchat. An app once used primarily by the younger generations. An app that allows us to track our friends and stay up to date, but does this need to be caught up in the so-called loop, the gossip puts us in a position of danger, one where our self-worth is dependent upon others.
Snapchat is releasing a feature where you and your friends can keep track of your activity throughout the day. The collaboration between Strava and Snapchat works by connecting with your Strava account, where you instantly have access to stats and maps from any recent activity. You will then be prompted to take a picture and upload it to Snapchat, where you can share it with Strava’s 100 million followers and Snapchat's 363 million regular users. You can become creative and add stickers, music, and filters from this point.
For some, this may sound like a dream. Adding a bit of competition, they may finally take the plunge and go for a swim, run or walk, or train for that marathon they have always wanted to do. For others, this may sound like a nightmare. Nobody wants to know that the neighbour 4 doors down has run 6km whilst you have barely hit 3,000 steps. It’s a slap in the face, a constant reminder of what others are doing and what you are not. It is important to note that Snapchat is taking the great initiative to entice older users onto the platform, but they are just going the wrong way about it. Leave the fitness to the fitness apps.
There is a multitude of alternatives to the Snapchat x Strava collaboration. Nike run club or pump up allows you to still compete against your friends, but it is only aimed at those also working out. Many people like to share their workouts because they are proud of their achievements and because they want to encourage other people because it holds them accountable. Sometimes it may even be to make others feel bad whilst making yourself feel better. Your reasons are your own, but it stands to reason that some people just don’t want to know. If I see people that have run, hiked, or done any form of physical activity that day, I also need to work out. Not because I want to but because it makes me feel like I have been lazy if I haven’t worked out in some capacity. As a person who has dealt with issues regarding body image, seeing how little activity I have done throughout the day does not inspire a need to compete but instead a bout of self-loathing.
Snapchat hasn’t introduced this new collaboration to encourage people to work out but instead as a way to separate themselves from competitors, as a way to increase the number of users, and expand the number of age groups who use the app. Introducing a fitness feature, shouldn’t be about the money lining the company's pockets. It should be about the users. Their health, overall well-being, and safety.
Now to talk about the obvious. If people can track you on your journey if they can look at your route, can they follow you? Stalk you? Track you down? Find your home? The uncomplicated answer is yes. Here is where it gets tricky. There are two options. You can share your journey with your followers or everyone. The only catch is that whilst some people only befriend those they know in real life on the app, most people friend whoever sends a friend request. The result is hundreds if not thousands of strangers friending a person resulting in hundreds if not thousands of people knowing where you run, walk, bike, or hike.
Personally, I am not a fan of the feature. I hate it. I couldn’t care less about how other people are spending their time. Wear what you want, go where you want, and do what you want just don’t share that information with me. It is great when people decide to better themselves, and I am all for it but share it with people who know what it means to go to the gym instead of a person who would rather spend their time doing something else.
Snapchat has introduced this feature in order to appeal to older users; however, at the end of the day, Snapchat is still Snapchat. It is still a platform that focuses on taking photos, sending messages that can’t be seen more than once, and sharing short clips. You can introduce a fitness aspect, but it doesn’t mean those that are older will join when other options are not overrun by younger users, which are easier to navigate and less addictive. Whilst Snapchat has taken a shot at introducing a fitness feature, I think this might just be a miss, a fail, and an overall waste of time.