Inspired by Scott D. Southard’s blog post “Twitter- Free: My 24 hours Without Twitter,” I decided embark on a similar challenge. After reading his post I noted the time, 9:24 am, and then I initiated my own social media fast. My intention was to abstain for 24 hours, but upon sharing this news with my Monday evening class one student challenged me to turn the fast into a week long venture. I confess that I almost said no. Could I really stay away for that long?
I had already been disconnected for 8 hours and the itch to click on Twitter and the like taunted my curiosity. On the other hand, I do enjoy a challenge. Most important, I learned to stop sharing things with my students.
I am pleased to report the challenge is complete. For one week I did not check up on my usual go-to Social Media pages: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and WordPress. Here are some of my observations:
1. Within moments of agreeing to said challenge I wanted to update Twitter to let them know of my challenge. But, alas, I could not. Thus, I instantly became aware of how the urge to “share” infringed on my daily life.
2. I wanted to cheat. It astonished me to no end that I needed to summon my will power to not look at these sites. After all, the majority of my life has not involved being on Social Media. In fact, I only started tweeting a little over a year ago, and my Instagram account is practically new. Normally will power is reserved for surviving a CrossFit session, re-working drafts on philosophy papers, and having one glass of wine instead of the bottle.
3. My stack of grading is nearly done, I finished reading The Old Man and the Sea, and my home is spotless. This means, of course, that scrolling through my news feeds encroaches on my time far more than I had assumed. (Side note: I cannot believe it took me over two decades to face my dread of reading Hemingway. I loved the little book and I will definitely be picking up more by him.)
4. I really could live without Facebook. I check it often; however, it does not add anything to my day. Why do I continue to look at something of so little value to my life? Being away from Facebook, in contrast to my other go-to’s, felt liberating. I suspect it is because my Facebook “friends” have known me since childhood, and I feel somewhat confined by my profile. With Twitter and WordPress I experience far more freedom. That is, followers on the latter sites are generated primarily due to common interests which, for me, makes them more valuable.
5. Social Media has evolved into a time filler for me. I opted to people watch and lose myself in thinking as opposed to pulling out my phone. In the beginning it felt strange. The challenge forced me to stop paying attention to others’ lives and to reorient my focus to the present.
6. I honestly missed Twitter and WordPress. Perhaps because I am more introverted, these sites allow me a new way of interaction that is compatible with being a bit of a recluse. I’m not sure it is such a bad thing. Much has been made of our lack of connecting with people and the demise of social skills. While I will concede that people are spending more time on their phones than talking with others, I have found a sincere joy in using Twitter and WordPress as a sort of outlet for being social. The exchange of ideas and discovering interesting reads and blog posts does give me a positive boost to my day.
7. A part of me wondered if I was missing out on…well…I don’t know. I felt out of the loop and slightly anxious about it. Full disclosure: I worried that people might think I was mad at them for not leaving any “likes” or “favorites” on their posts. I realize this is silly, but such things did cross my mind.
8. On Sunday I reminded myself that it was the final day of my fast and delighted in knowing that I could once again clickity-click my way into the web of social media. What had I missed?
9. When the time hit 9:24 this morning, I was too engrossed in a book to put it down and check up on the world. The end arrived and I didn’t turn to my phone. When I finally started to scroll and click away, I was rather unimpressed. The moment I waited for ended up being anti-climactic.
Now I am pondering other “Fast” possibilities. For this week I will be fasting from television. Let’s see how it goes.
Dear friends, do you think you could go a week without your favorite social media sites? If you fancy a try, please leave comments.