Social media – that phrase for the friendly apps on our phone. You know them: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and all of the others. They’re so reliable. It seems like social media is our generation’s best friend. So what would happen if we had to give it up?
That’s what I wanted to find out when I gave social media up for a week. Now, I’ve done social media cleanses before, so I thought this would be no big deal. Piece of cake, right? But this time was a little different. Instead of just giving it up for the fun of it, I wanted to see how often I would get that itch to scroll through my newsfeed or watch Snapchat stories in between classes. I wanted to see how often I invited social media into my life. So I said goodbye on Facebook, made my apps do a little dance as I deleted them, and got ready to start my week without social media.
When I woke up on day one, my initial thought was what happened in and around the world while I was asleep. Online socializing catches me up to whatever is going on in the world (global or personal). Social media allows for a connection to the world, not just with news updates, but as a portal used to see into the lives of our family and friends. At college that becomes especially true. Without that contact I felt disconnected from sharing experiences in the vicarious way online socializing allows.
It turns out that I don’t just use social media for communication – which might be obvious to anyone who has stared at homework for too long. As I went about my day, my fingers itched to relieve even the mundane act of brushing my teeth. All of those apps happen to fit nicely in every gap of my life. Sure as classes began, it didn’t feel as hard to focus, but what’s the natural thing to do during those five minutes in between classes? Unless you like staring at the wall, chances are you’ll find yourself scrolling through your newsfeed or taking a quiz on BuzzFeed. Those little pockets of time happened so often that by the time lunch rolled around, my count was up to 14. And by midnight of the first day, it rose to 32.
Throughout the rest of the week my numbers steadily went down. I found the longer you’re without something, the easier it is to stay away. But it never became truly “easy” for me because social media is designed to capture those special moments in life. You know what I mean – when you want to Snapchat the soccer game with the Messiah logo, tweet that stupid yet hilarious comment your roommate just said, or share dinner on Instagram. It’s natural.
For a lot of us, it’s our first reaction to document everything we touch and experience. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down until midnight on that last day, waiting to get my apps back. But I’d also be lying if I said that there was a sweeping feeling of satisfaction when I finally logged back onto Facebook.
I think it’d be pretty hard to give up social media entirely – I’m not even convinced that we should – but I have to say that while it’s nice to keep up with everyone and everything, it’s also nice to put the phone away for a while and enjoy those little pockets of time.