Full-disclosure about my social media habits…
Oddly enough, despite considering myself a social media connoisseur – I manage LinkedIn and Twitter accounts in my current internship and I signed up for a class called Social Media after all – I hardly post on the platforms I use. Weird…I know. Social media for me is more of an entertainment outlet. It’s less of a stage for me to broadcast my life and more of a way for me to keep tabs on my friends (and those random acquaintances we followed at some point) as well as a mental break for when I am bored of whatever it is that I am doing.
The 24-hour fast
Regardless, like the rest of my classmates from my Social Media course, I embarked on a 24-hour-long social media fast this past weekend. Beginning on Saturday morning, I took the plunge and ended my social media consumption till the next Sunday morning, or at least I attempted to. I chose that Saturday for my fast because my weekend plans conveniently aligned with my goals for zero social media. I was away with friends in Virginia Beach from Saturday morning to late Sunday morning, providing me the perfect window to avoid the iPhone screen.
Overall, I was able to successfully avoid social media apps and email for the day. But as I would soon find out, it’s incredibly hard to avoid texting for an entire day. Apparently, others found it just as challenging just as I had – I tweeted about the difficulty of trying to avoid texting for 24 hours and collected six likes on it, way more than I usually receive on my tweets. As I had stated earlier I do not really consider myself to be addicted to social media, but the time I spent away from social media – even if it was for only 24 hours – made me realize just how hardwired I am to frequently check the social media networks on my phone.
What was it like?
I will be breaking down the reflections on my fast into three categories – behavior, identity, and commercialism. But before getting into what I learned from avoiding my social networks it’s first important to understand my own regular social media habits, as told in this infographic I created –
- Was I more plugged into reality? As someone who isn’t too into social media, I didn’t necessarily find I was more plugged into reality than normal. The biggest difference came when I was in situations where I was alone and waiting.
- I’m bored, better check social media. Because I was with friends all day, I rarely felt the need to be social on my phone. Nonetheless, there were times throughout the day that I was alone (such as standing in lines or waiting on people) and found myself reaching into my pocket to casually check social media. Each time I had to force myself to put the phone back in my pocket and return to awkwardly spacing out as I waited…I really am hardwired to check my phone in moments of boredom.
- I don’t care, and I love it. For almost every major social media platform (Snapchat the exception), I was late to the party. I got a Facebook years after my friends had gotten one, I didn’t have a Twitter until Professor Usher’s Freshman Seminar required we make one, and I created an Instagram just a year and a half ago. I really do not associate my real identity with my online identity. Social media, to me, is just a way to connect with people and share content with close friends.
- My own media company? The social fast helped me realize that I primarily use social media for consumption, not production. For my purposes, I really do believe that the future of entertainment – and news to an extent – is tied to social media platforms. Social media allows us to build our own personalized outlets for entertainment and news.
- Pop culture world. Spending a day away from social media made me realize how we live in a world where pop culture rules. Social media networks are a zeitgeist of what’s hip and happening in the world, and people adapt those trends to bolster their own social presence.
All in all, the fast was great because it helped me realize that I am content with my current level of social media consumption. Whether that will change with the times is yet to be seen…