I never realized just how much a person depends on social media until I decided to challenge myself this past week. Anyone who knows me knows my phone is practically super glued to my hand. My entire life depends on my phone. No, I’m not being dramatic. It’s true and when I explain why, you might think yours does too. Of course, my obsession with social media can be a bit excessive, but that’s what this generation is; social media has become the portal key to connecting with the rest of the world. Without it, we wouldn’t be as advanced as we’ve become. I’m not talking about how the newest Instagram story update that comes with different fonts can cure cancer. I’m talking about networking.
As a soon-to-be college graduate, all I hear around the clock is “networking this” and “networking that”. It’s all that consumes the field of unemployment. Social media helps us research, and informs us of who people are and how to get to where they are now. Call me crazy, but I embrace this social media craze because it takes this generation further into the state of being almost fully interconnected. By that, I mean we have access of communicating with the President of the United States with just one click of a tweet. We can spread sexual assault stories faster than wildfire. Hell, I’ve seen bullies exposed and missing people found just because someone clicked “share” that started a chain reaction.
You’re probably wondering why I’m doing a social media fast if I’m such a huge advocate for it. Well, though I believe social media has benefited this generation, I believe it’s good to unplug for a little and focus on the physical world around you. Social media can become dangerous very fast, so if you’re not giving yourself a break every now and then, it can effect your face-to-face relationships. Everything in moderation.
Here goes nothing…
3 days, 1 hour, 42 minutes and 11 seconds
Monday – *everything around me on fire* It’s fine, I’m fine.
The first day is always the hardest. You’re breaking a daily habit you have. At first the actions are involuntary. You forget, just for a moment, that you are cutting off your addiction cold turkey. For me, I seemed to have forgotten, for a majority of the day, that I was fasting from social media. Without even realizing, I’d open up my “social media” application folder then see that it’s completely empty. It was easy to avoid social media when I was busy at work or in class. Unfortunately, reality set in during the slower parts of my day. That first night was a true test. It was the first time all day, after I finished my homework, that I had nothing to do. So to keep me away from the apps, I went on Netflix and started the show “Shameless”. From what I heard, it’s extremely addicting, and I thought, “why not replace one of my addictions with another?” (In healthy moderation, of course.)
Tuesday – The air is much cleaner up here.
The second day I was still having moments of amnesia about the fast, but not as much as the day before. Passing the time by finding another way to occupy myself got easier. I checked my phone a lot less than I do on the regular and definitely a lot less than I did on Monday. I did, however, send one too many texts to my boyfriend as a way to be on some kind of technology system. At that point, it didn’t matter if he responded. I just wanted to go on a rant via text instead of ranting via Twitter. The one thing that was killing me the most: I had no idea what was going on in the world of social media. As a communications major, 99.9% of us are addicted to our phones and social media. It’s in our nature. (Don’t quote me on that percentage.) So I did receive some wavelengths of social media information through the grapevine during each of my communications classes. Word of mouth still isn’t enough for me.
Wednesday – I don’t Twitter, but I sure as hell knit a mean scarf.
I am very proud of myself. By the third day, I might as well have not had my phone with me that day, because I rarely looked at it. Only when I receive messages, or had to message someone for a specific reason, did I unlock my phone. This was the easiest of the two days, and I actually felt less stressed out. As if indulging myself that far into social media was giving me a small ounce of anxiety with it. My pastimes included getting nitty-gritty work done around my apartment and organizing my priorities.
Thursday – I’M BACK, BABY!!!
The one thing I cannot stress enough is how social media is used to spread news worldwide. I woke up Thursday morning, re-downloaded my apps, and went straight to class. I just barely glanced at the notifications I received throughout the past 3 days before I left my house. The nation was hit with a horrific tragedy on Wednesday, February 14th. Seventeen kids lost their lives due to a shooting that took place in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, located in Parkland, Florida. I found out about this shooting 24 hours later because my teacher casually mentioned it. I felt so out of place that I had gone 24 hours totally oblivious to this incident.
Call social media what you want, but it informs us of what is going on around the world. Faster than the television news. Faster than the papers. Faster than you can fathom. The break was refreshing, but I missed out on a moment that the entire nation was focusing on. As a college student, my one ticket to the world of news is through social media. I can access it anytime, anywhere. Not everyone has the time or access to sit in front of the television and watch the local news whenever they please.
I encourage everyone to take a break from social media every now and then to reassess your priorities and thoughts when it comes to your mental health. However, I also encourage you to not disconnect yourself from it entirely. Take my experience as an example. You never know when the next big story is about to break the web. Stay informed, but don’t stay completely wired in. This life and this world is a beautiful place that doesn’t last forever, so look up every once in awhile.