While you wait for the bus you scroll through Facebook, if you have a quick five minutes between lectures you browse through Instagram, while you wait for the kettle to boil you peek at the Twitter moments page. Scrolling through our social media platforms is something we do without even thinking about it. It has become such a natural habit that we don’t even think about it, it is second nature to us. Therefore, I wanted to undertake the Social Media Detox Challenge for one week to see whether we as students are addicted to social media and whether we could cope without it.
I decided to remain on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp as that is my main method of communication with my family and friends, but social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest were the ones I decided to stop using.
On day one of my social media detox I was spending the day with my family, as they had come up to Newcastle for a visit, therefore I didn’t spend a lot of time on my phone going through my social media apps. At first, I didn’t uninstall the apps or turn my notifications off, so I was still getting a lot of notifications for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat which I had to keep dismissing or ignoring. Due to not being on my phone for the whole day I didn’t really miss not going through my social media apps, the only time I missed being able to scroll through Twitter and Instagram was before going to bed after having nothing else to do, so instead I ended up reading a new book I’d bought. Which was something I hadn’t found the time to do before.
On day two I noticed myself automatically gravitating towards Instagram, my thumb went naturally to click on it without even thinking, so I did have to stop myself and lock my phone. I could see that people were tagging me in things on Twitter and Facebook, so I had to turn my notifications off properly as I was so tempted to just quickly check them. At first, I thought I would have a big sense of FOMO and I did when snapchats were being sent to me and I couldn’t open them but after a while I didn’t become as bothered by it. However, on the third day I felt like I was missing out on seeing things that my friends were discussing. My housemates and I all talk about what we’ve seen online and things that are funny on Twitter and Instagram, so when everyone was talking about something that I hadn’t seen I felt very out of the loop and didn’t relate to what they were talking about, which made me realise how ingrained social media is on my day to day life and conversations.
On day four it was one of my oldest friend’s 21stbirthdays. Those of us that have had Facebook since we were thirteen years old know that you are somewhat expected to comment on your friend’s Facebook wall to wish them a happy birthday, so when I couldn’t wish my friend a happy 21stbirthday with funny photos of us growing up together I felt a sense of guilt, like it didn’t look like I cared enough. The fourth day of my social media detox was also Halloween, so I really wanted to scroll through Instagram to see what everyone’s costumes looked like and I wanted to share my own photos from Halloween, but I couldn’t, so I did miss not being able to share my own photos.
Coming to the end of the week when I was waiting for the Metro or waiting for a friend instead of scrolling through my Twitter feed or looking at snapchat stories I started reading a lot of articles and stories on my news apps and I found that was such a more productive way to spend my time.I wasn’t accidentally trying to open my social media apps anymore.
One thing that became very obvious from the Social Media Detox Challenge was that quite a few of our conversations are related to what we have seen on our social media apps, so when people were discussing incidences they had seen shared on Facebook pages and Twitter feeds I began to notice that if you completely cut yourself off social media you would probably feel very out of the loop. Additionally, taking myself off social media made me look at my surroundings more and I noticed that a lot of people spend hours and hours on social media and I found myself sat there watching everyone around me scroll through multiple different platforms, and normally I would be doing the exact same as them. The realisation of how long we spend on social media was shocking. Which I think just shows how ingrained the social media platforms we use are in everything we do.
Overall, I believe I would be able to cope without social media for longer than a week, especially as I spent the time I would normally use on social media doing something more productive. I also believe that as students and avid social media users we are addicted and whether it is positive, or negative is up for debate.