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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    5 days without social media was a life lesson

    Arts+reporter+Taylor+Brestel+went+one+school+week+without+using+Facebook%2C+Instagram+and+Twitter%2C+and+found+that+she+was+happier+in+the+end+without+it.+
    Christina Harris
    Arts reporter Taylor Brestel went one school week without using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and found that she was happier in the end without it.

    I’m about a month late on the “new year, new me” thing, but giving up social media—at least for a while—is something I’ve always wanted to try.

    Social media is a huge waste of time, and all it does is annoy me, so in theory, this should make me happier and more productive. Right?

    I chose a week where I had a few big projects due. I would spend more time working on those projects instead of being distracted by Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I did keep Snapchat, though, because I just couldn’t part with it.

    I put the rest in an iPhone app box that I labeled “No” to remind myself of the goal.

    Monday: Day one without social media. I was very bored without Facebook to waste time, yet I still continued putting off homework. Maybe being productive is something I’ll never achieve.

    It was difficult not to post about fun experiences I was having with friends, or the strange people I saw when I walked home from KAMP Student Radio.

    At a meeting later in the evening, I was incredibly bored. I couldn’t bear the thought of actually paying attention, so I played games on my phone because games are not social media.

    The first day is always the hardest, so hopefully this will get easier as the week goes on.

    Christina Harris, a pre-public health sophomore, felt the same way when she gave up social media over winter break.

    “It was hard at first, but after I had been without it for a week, it was a lot easier,” she said.

    Tuesday: Somehow, Facebook re-downloaded itself onto my phone, so I deleted it again. The little red notification numbers bothered me too much, so it was best to just not have it on my phone until this experiment was over.

    Again, I had nothing to do while waiting for class. People aren’t readily available to interact with, so I had to keep myself busy. Everyone was on a laptop or a phone; no one was talking to each other. This time, I wrote in a notebook for 20 minutes until it was time for my next class.

    Wednesday: Things started getting easier. Usually in the mornings, I check my email then go straight to Facebook for a while, but this morning, I didn’t feel that urge.

    I didn’t really miss social media; I missed having something to mindlessly occupy my time.

    However, I became much more productive when I wasn’t distracted by checking Twitter instead of doing homework. I was able to write four pages in a couple of hours—an assignment that would normally take double that time due to frequent breaks on the Internet.

    Thursday: I got really bored in between classes and wanted to see what was new on Instagram, but instead, I listened to music. As long as I had something to do, I hardly noticed anything was missing from my life.

    I was still able to communicate with friends, family and employers. I went to a friend’s birthday dinner and was able to talk to my friends the whole time without checking my phone or updating my status. It was nice to focus on the conversations instead of updating my status or taking pictures.

    Friday: The last day of the experiment went pretty well. I noticed that I had at least 10 more minutes of free time in the mornings since I wasn’t checking social media.

    When I finally did log onto Facebook after being without it for a week, it was surprising how few of the 20-something notifications I actually cared about. Most were invitations to events I wouldn’t have gone to anyway or people posting useless updates in a group.

    Harris noticed the same thing during her time without these websites.

    “It made me realize how much I rely on using my phone,” she said. “I don’t check social media because I’m curious to see how people are doing. I realized I check it because I’m bored.”

    What I learned: After the week was over, I reflected on my initial goals of being happier and more productive without social media. I still procrastinate as much as I did before, but I was able to do assignments much faster without any distractions.

    As for the happiness part, it’s hard to measure, but I do think I was happier without it. For five days, I only communicated with the people I wanted to talk to. I wasn’t forced to see updates from people I don’t care about or like. No more Facebook posts about parties I wasn’t invited to, no more Instagram photos with random subjects.

    We’re so focused on staying connected to everything that oftentimes, we don’t stop to think about whether we want to be.


    Follow Taylor Brestel on Twitter.


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