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Anna Brennan: The girl who 'snapped' out

In a world where we rely on our phones for social communication, is it possible to find balance and live without it?

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Anna Brennan Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

There once lived a girl whose entire life revolved around art and expressing herself. She could not wait to turn 12 and receive her first phone because she would then be able to join Instagram: a community app that allows you to share photos with followers. She loved to take pictures and be creative and couldn’t wait to use the platform to share that with the world.

When the day finally came she was overjoyed and fell in love with the app immediately. She was content, having finally achieved something she had been dreaming of for so long. However, before she realized it, she was no longer content and wanted more.

Her environment told her that sharing the high points of her life with 100 or so people wasn’t enough to make someone feel important. It started out as a fun form of expression but quickly spiraled into an item of status in her small sixth-grade world.

She yearned for the one thing she didn’t have that everyone else did: a social networking app called Snapchat. The app allows for its users to message each other using photos, and rewards the user by developing a "snap" score.

Luckily for the girl, she had parents who understood that even though Snapchat seemed like the immediate solution to getting more friends, it was an application that would keep her from developing the ability to identify genuine human connection.

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The girl understood where her parents were coming from, always knowing how shortsighted the application was, but still always knowing that it was the one thing that would get her in with the in- crowd.

She went all of middle school without the app and was doing great, even though she rarely communicated with anyone outside of school because she didn’t have the app. Then a pandemic hit, and she was forced to stay in her home for months. She realized during this time how isolated she truly was from kids her age.

Because of the pandemic, her parents agreed that it was OK for her to join Snapchat so she could talk to other kids. She was happy, and temporarily content. Snapchat led her to connect with people that she enjoyed talking to, and she had a newfound sense of belonging.

She soon started her freshman year of high school during the pandemic, and Snapchat stuck with her. She took time out of her day to send silly things like photos of her feet to people that were slowly growing disconnected from her because she couldn’t keep up with them in the way they expected. She grew frustrated, realizing she no longer found value in it, and decided to clear it from her life.

Since that day, the girl has been able to return to happily living without the anxiety of keeping people happy and has learned how to see the light in staying out of a circle. She enjoys hanging out with her family and focusing on personal growth above everything and uses her spare time to tell others her story and help them find the same freedom and self-discovery as she did.

I am proud to say that girl is me.

Anna Brennan is a sophomore at Byron High School. Send comments on teen columns to Jeff Pieters, jpieters@postbulletin.com.

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