Three days is not a long time in the grand scheme of life. But, I decided to do it — three days, no social media.
And without social media clogging up my time, I learned a great deal about myself. I had no idea how much time Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook take away from my daily routine.
During the three days I challenged myself to go without social media, I accomplished more school work, physically interacted with more people and had more time to reflect on my day than I ever would have if I was focused on social media.
However, while walking around on campus I realized that I was one of the few not looking at a phone. Throughout the day I noticed students peering down at their profiles during transitional moments of the day, like while waiting for the bus, standing in line at Turner, taking study breaks in Newman and resting between exercises at McComas.
However, this distraction leads us to never being “bored.” Our generation always has to be entertained, whether it is by social media or people in reality.
Take Snapchat for instance: We are constantly waiting for other people to impress and entertain us through pictures and videos. This not only pressures us to feel obligated to document every moment of our life but makes us feel inadequate when we do not. When a funny moment or something unexpected happens, you can almost guarantee someone will post it on Snapchat.
People with social media accounts are expected and pressured to post often and keep their profiles relevant. There is now a mentality in our generation that asks, “If it wasn’t documented on social media, did it really happen?”
We often want to show others that our lives are exciting and we are people they want to be around, and our generation tried to accomplish this through social media posts.
These facts are suprising, but not hard to believe.
However, many choose to only focus on the good of social media while not acknowledging the bad. Social media greatly impacts a person’s everyday life. What people see on social media can affect their moods, how they act and what they believe.
Social media can impact mood by making students feel as if they are missing out or that they should look or act a certain way. This can lead to stress, sadness and an array of emotions.
Social media can also impact how students act. There are less rules when it comes to communicating online. There is more flexibility because people are less afraid to say what they want if they are behind a screen.
However, this makes physical interactions harder for people to participate in. Especially in younger adults, people are losing valuable social skills they will need later on in life.
Social media also impacts what people believe. Especially when news sources and online articles can skew someone's opinion on a certain subject, our society becomes more polarized and less likely to listen to others’ opinions.
If we cut social media from our phones and used it purely for communication, there would be more time for real interactions between people on a regular basis. Though there are millions of interactions on social media, they have become so instant and regular we take them for granted.
The main takeaway I got from three days without social media is that these apps are not a necessity. Social media can and should be used from time to time to catch up with friends, watch funny videos or unwind from a stressful day. However, when social media takes up the majority of your day, you should think about going on a “social media cleanse.”
If social media is adding stress to your life, taking time away from important people and responsibilities or not bringing you happiness, then taking a break will benefit you in the long run.
A few days or a week without the constant stream of notifications from apps will allow your mind to rest and allow you to remember that social media is not the most important part of everyday life. Social media contains short glimpses into a person's life, but we are living ours everyday and need to remember to be fully invested in it.