Staff writer Derek Beaven becomes “unplugged” from social media for one week

By Derek BeavenStaff Writer

It seems that in today’s world, everyone is linked in to some form of social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

New apps and platforms pop up every day, and there are always those individuals who argue that we are too connected, too plugged-in, to see the real world around us.

I will admit, I am not the most informed when it comes to social media.

I have a Facebook account and a Twitter that I lost the password for sometime after high school. But, I will say that I am more attached to my Facebook page than I am usually willing to admit and I am one of those people who definitely spends (or wastes) too much time on the website.

So, when I saw the opportunity to try and break the habit, I took it.

To add to the challenge, I threw in BuzzFeed, another website on which I spend far too much time, taking quizzes about what kind of cheese I am instead of accomplishing something slightly more relevant.

Before starting this experiment, I ran a few Google searches just to see what was being said about the topic. An interesting article published by Katherine Boyle in the Washington Post on Dec. 28, 2012 claims that most people who attempted to quit social media were logged back on within 24 hours. This article, titled “Think you’re giving up social media? Think again,” also argues that Facebook is an obsession for most people.

With all this in mind, I began my experiment on Sat., March 8, in the afternoon. I logged out and closed my computer for what I assumed would be the last time for a week. I vaguely considered making a status about it, but I figured I’d be back in a week, so what was the point?

The next morning, I woke up, groggily logged in, and started scrolling through my newsfeed before I remembered what I was supposed to be doing. Once I realized, I logged out quickly, but the urge to log back in did not quite go away.

It was raining outside and I did not want to start my homework.

So the constant urge to distract myself electronically was always in the back of my mind.

It seemed too easy. One click and there was a whole host of pictures, words, and messages to distract me for as long as I wanted.

Even as I continued throughout the week, the habit of checking my Facebook account was stuck in my mind. There were even times when I was sort of floundering without it. I have a close friend from home with whom I often share music, and without Facebook, I did not really have any way to reach him. Email felt too clunky and formal to just send a YouTube link, so I just let it go.

As the week went on and I got busier and busier, the urge began to die, though it was never fully extinguished.

I would like to say that I was more productive without Facebook and BuzzFeed, but I am not sure that is true. My work got done, but at the usual pace, and I found other non-electronic ways to distract myself, like counting library books or sleeping. All in all, the experiment was an interesting one.

It seems that logging into Facebook is more of an impulse than an actual desire on my part, though Facebook does have its uses and it can be a good medium when used properly.

Avoiding the “scroll culture” that can sometimes happen when our eyes glaze and we run endlessly through our newsfeed might actually enhance the Facebook experience.

By instead using the site as was originally intended, to connect and share with people, it can be put to good use.

Events like the Arab Spring in which data and images were shared globally with the click of a mouse stand as testament to the power of social media, especially within our current generation.

If anything, this experience taught me the true value of Facebook; it should serve as a tool, not a distraction.

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