BY Senior Reporter
Social media can be compared to cancer: it expands, suffocates and invades different areas of life. As a young adult that is apart of Generation Z, I am no social media novice as I am constantly checking my phone to see the latest tweet, picture or snapchat story.
Additionally, I track my horoscope, the weather and my favorite celebrities all from the social media apps on my phone. Sound familiar? Ask yourself; How often do I check my social media accounts and am I really connecting to others via phones, tablets or laptops?
Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook were created to provide a source of entertainment while connecting with friends. Unfortunately, myself and others have found ourselves increasingly reliant on these entertaining apps. Teenagers and young adults use social media as their go to method of communication. My generation feels deeply connected with people because of the information provided via social media and this way of connecting can be addictive. When I see a trending story or Twitter or Snapchat, I know that I am not alone, millions of others are being seduced by the lure of the news or information being shared.
However I do believe there are some benefits to social media, it allows you to connect with friends, families and potential employers. It offers a view of the world instantly and proves information on the latest trends and pop culture phenomenon. Given the controversy behind social media addiction, I decided to challenge myself to complete a five day social media cleanse. I stayed off social media for a week and here’s what happened:
I gorged myself with Twitter and Snapchat. I read every tweet and watched every viral video in preparation for this challenge. I also made sure to tell my close group of friends that I would not be able to reply to any Snapchat streaks or check their stories but to instead call or text me. It was strange powering off my phone at night knowing that in the morning I would be unable to check Snapchat’s DailyMail section to scan world news and information.
This day was easier than I expected, although upon waking I had the instant urge to roll over in bed and check the latest tweet or story that I missed while I was asleep. I found myself stopping right when I opened my social file on my phone and realized that I instead would have to Google DailyMail.com or read the New York Times instead. I know this sounds like first-world problems (it is), but I really have become reliant on this feature in order to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world.
This day was a rough, truthfully, seeing the constant tweets pop up on my phone and not being able to like, retweet or share was honestly difficult. I kept receiving messages or added friend requests on Snapchat and it bugged me to see the notifications occupying my home screen. I took the advice of a friend and decided to shut off my notifications in order to salvage my sanity.
I’m pretty proud of myself and what I accomplished this day. I had a particularly busy schedule and didn’t think about social media at all. I did find myself opening my social file though while waiting for my interview to begin and I instantly squealed and put my phone down. I had an epiphany and realized that I simply use my social media out of boredom and while away hours just looking at stories and watching videos.
This is the day that really solidified that social media has a negative impact on my study habits. I realized that I am exponentially more productive when I refrain from Twitter and Snapchat. I was able to finish all my assignments plus study without the constant break of scrolling on my phone for hours. Maybe social media has negative effects on education as well?
The last day of the ban! It felt nice to complete this challenge and feel like I actually accomplished something. Friday was a relaxed day and I found myself researching the news rather than gorging on my social media news feed.
After completing this task, I realized how heavily reliant I am on social media. I do believe social media has provided benefit by allowing people to know what’s going on 24/7 in today’s society. However, too much reliance on any communication medium negatively impacts social interaction.
This little experiment taught me that social media is a wonderful tool to communicate with loved ones, research news or promote health and welfare but addiction to social media is a sign of disconnect; disconnect from interpersonal face to face relationships.
Social media should never be the main basis of someone’s life. At the end of the day no matter how many likes, retweets or comments you have, you matter in this world and your connections should be established and developed face-to-face.