My first initial reaction to an assignment that required us to “unplug” from ALL forms of social media, was met with a mixture of emotions. I initially didn’t know how it would be possible for a social media junkie, like myself, to virtually “unplug” from all forms of online communication.
It was at that moment I decided I was going to do more than just 72 hours of detoxing from social media. I was going to do 7 days. I chose to extend my “unplugged” period for longer than requested for one reason, incase I don’t complete the full week, well at least I did 72 hours. But mainly to prove to myself, it’s better to have a solid relationship and interaction with people in real time, real life than the virtual communication I have been so heavily absorbed in. When I determined my overall dates were going to be one week, Spring Break sounded like the perfect time to put this into action. Neither my friends or I would be going on an extravagant vacation, so there was no need to “check-in”, share photos or give status updates on anything wild and crazy. It made perfect sense for me to do this on a quiet time in my life, when the only thing I was excited to do was catch up on old seasons of Sex and the City. Which is exactly what I did.
I spent my Spring Break completely unplugged from all social media sites with the remainder of my time on the couch watching movies, TV shows, or baking. I found my time was not filled with more elaborate and exciting hobbies. I didn’t go out on nature hikes, or suddenly become the next Martha Stewart, I didn’t even read a number of books I fantasized I would. In short, I am a simple woman who enjoys movies, food and drinks, so none of that was comprised. In fact, I was more involved at dinner parties and bar gatherings with my friends simply because I was not caught off guard by Facebook or Snap Chat notifications. I found I was becoming a regular human again, in a sense that I could be polite and not stare at my phone more often than not. I liked to believe I was not entirely a social media junkie, but it wasn’t until I removed myself completely did it put into perspective just how heavily involved I really was with it.
The constant struggle I had while off line was random thoughts or funny one-liners popping into my head and my initial reaction was to share on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, I never did, honest I never once broke my will to avoid social media. Which always interest me because following the first urge to post a silly joke was always met with the opinion of, does this really matter? Half the time I found myself thinking about it, and no, the answer was no, it did not really matter. It wasn’t thought provoking, or something exciting about my life. Finally, I would think about sending whatever joke or line I had in mind via text message to my best friends, and once again, it made no sense or it wasn’t truly intriguing. I did find myself on Air Bnb, a website to allow people to find lodging in various locations, be it local or global. (I was searching for housing for while I’m in Europe this summer.) Which caused me to realize after spending an hour or two on the site, I was using social media. Initially in my mind, I was still behaving and not using a social networking site, but after I confirmed I was in fact on a site which offered a dialogue amongst the users and allowed for them to create or make changes, I got off completely. I remained celibate for the rest of the week.
So I found myself a third of the way into my “unplug” detox and learned I was in this virtual world for nothing more than validation. It was strange. Mostly because just previously in class we sat and listened to fellow classmates speak about how people suffer from depression and envy because of social media sites! Yet when I actively cut myself off from said sites, and acknowledged that I was a social media junkie for pure validation purposes, shook me. It was around the third or fourth day I started to really question and look into the relationships I had with people. Of course my family are all on Facebook, and it’s an extremely easy way to see how my niece or nephews are doing without my need to call them. Which makes me a terrible aunt in retrospect. But the truth is, it’s how relationships all work right now.
How odd of a detail to acknowledge, and how sad that relationships have turned to a weakened sense of foundation. I found the people who reached out to me either through “traditional” forms of communication, either calling or texting, were people who I already spent so much of my time with. So when I became aware of the people who only spoke to me, via Instagram or Facebook, did not contact me; I was not surprised. It only gave me a better example of a true friendship, an active friendship. Of course, one of my best friends, back home in California, did struggle a little bit in our communication with one another. Mostly because we tend to share Buzz Feed quizzes with each other to compare, a lot!
My sister often sent me random YouTube videos, but was forced to have to explain it to me instead. This caused her to be annoyed and wonder if it was even worth sharing. However, nothing in my life seemed to be a big issue to not use or be on social media. It was quiet, content and as I said, I spent all my time watching movies or cooking food. It was relaxing; extremely relaxing actually. So much so when I found myself coming to the end on my week long journey, I was not interested in going back to social media. I found myself to have a sudden unfavorable opinion to it all, a bit snobbish. Which is funny, I have a total polar opposite opinion for how it connects people now than when I started, and I truly have remained disinterested ever since. However, I should not say I have cut myself off entirely. I am happily using YouTube and Pinterest, again, but Facebook and Snap Chat, Twitter, Tumblr; all of these sites I find myself avoiding instead of checking every 5 minutes how I used to.
In short to the social media “unplug”, I have found myself to be very happy with the results, and surprised even with my opinion on the matter. Now that I have successfully completed the assignment. Of course, I will however return to these sites once my European vacation is here. Purely to brag to the people, I’m clearly in a shallow friendship with, of all the wonderful and extraordinary things I am doing while they are having to work. (Also so my family doesn’t have a heart attack from not hearing from me for a few days) Rude? Maybe, but I found after this challenge the one thing I want to maintain for the rest of 2014, is to keep a two side friendship or relationship with someone, instead of a one-sided friendship. Nothing could disinterest me more than to find myself so heavily consumed with wanting to know about a person, if they aren’t concerned about staying active in mine. So for any person I feel in need of a vacation to do “de-stress” I think having them “unplug” from all social media would be a wonderful time for them. In fact, my sister is participating in it now because of how well I managed.