I know I sound like an “adult” when I say this, but our generation is totally and completely addicted to social media – don’t deny it, you know it’s true. Social media is to us what the 6:00 news was to our parents: our window to the world. It’s how we receive news – world, national, local, and personal. It’s how we share information, rather than picking up the phone and calling everyone we know when something important happens. It’s how we talk to people we don’t see on a regular basis, even though we all have cell phones and the miracle of text messaging. It’s the new way of marketing yourself – we share our thoughts, ideas, and for those of us at FTS, our articles and stories. How on Earth are we supposed to live without this third arm we’ve all developed?
In this 21st century world of over-sharing, tweeting, pinning, and instagramming, most of us aren’t even aware of the fact that we are addicted to social media. We have it on our laptops, our smartphones, and some of us have it shamelessly tabbed on our desktops at the office. The worlds of those around us are constantly at our fingertips for us to obsess over. We’re so busy sharing our day-to-day routines and musings with others that we seem to forget to actually make real memories that aren’t documented in social media (okay, I’ll stop getting deep here).
Personally, I’ve known that I have a problem with social media sharing for quite some time. I haven’t gone without some sort of social media for more than a twenty-four hour period. I even made sure that I had 4G all throughout Europe while I was there. I get frustrated when I can’t access my Facebook feed, as if I’ll miss something terribly important. When an instagram photo won’t upload because I don’t have sufficient service, I get impatient. I’m constantly checking my twitter feed to see if my blog posts have been retweeted. Like I said, I was aware of this problem for a while, but not until recently have I realized how much of life I let pass by because I’m too busy updating social media. What is the solution to this? Sure, we can lie to ourselves and say “I’ll only check my Facebook twice a day” or “I’ll only tweet important things” or “I’ll stop posting all of my meals to instgram,” but we all know none of those things are going to happen. Limitations with addictions DON’T WORK. You gotta go cold turkey. And that’s what I did for my entire spring break from work and classes last week. For one whole week, I didn’t use my Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I took a hiatus from social media, and guess what? I got a lot of shit accomplished.
For starters, I finished my 30-page thesis draft that I’d been procrastinating on for weeks, which was a huge relief. I went to the gym more often. I got ahead on my assignments for school. I actually watched television without my laptop in front of the whole time. I cleaned my entire house and got all of my laundry done. I spent time with people face to face with no technological third party present. It was wonderful.
The first few days were tough, I mean really tough. Checking social media platforms is a habit more than anything else, and I took all of my existing willpower to not click on the ever-present Facebook tab on my laptop. I actually deleted my Facebook app from my phone so I wouldn’t receive notifications and be tempted. After the second day, though, I was accustomed to starting my day with running rather than refreshing my Twitter feed. The best result of this experiment, though, wasn’t all the work I got done or the time spent alone or the amount of energy I’d saved. The best part was that for an entire week I had nothing to compare myself to, and it was great! I often find myself comparing my real life to the lives of my Facebook friends who are getting engaged/married, having babies, and working at real jobs. It makes me feel bad about myself, and that’s why I needed the hiatus. It let me focus on myself and where I’m at in my life, and where I want to go. That’s we all need this. I challenge all of you readers to take a hiatus. It doesn’t have to be a week; it can be longer or shorter, but seriously, do yourself a favor and try it.