STORY BY ANDREA BECK
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines social media as “forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages and other content.”
I used this definition as my official rules when I swore off social media for a week.
I stayed away from all the sites that fit it this definition.
I avoided all sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even Buzzfeed.
Since users can upload their own content to Buzzfeed, I decided it fit the definition as well.
Not to mention the juicy arguments in the comments section, which are always a good way to waste time.
I thought going without social media for a week would be easy, since I don’t consider myself to be a heavy user. I rarely post on Facebook, and I don’t use Twitter very often.
I figured staying off Buzzfeed would be the most difficult because I can spend a lot of time scrolling through articles and reading comments.
Initially, I thought this challenge would increase my productivity and reduce the amount of time I spent procrastinating by surfing the web.
Instead, it mostly just frustrated me, since I suddenly couldn’t visit the sites I usually do.
I still procrastinated, but on websites that didn’t fit the broad definition of “social media.”
Fortunately, I didn’t experience any of the classic symptoms of someone going through withdrawal, like anxiety, shakiness and insomnia.
I did, however, find myself hovering the cursor over the bookmark for Facebook more times than I could count before I yanked it away at the last minute as I remembered the challenge.
The most notable change was that I felt incredibly out-of-the-loop all week.
When one of my friends mentioned a Facebook post they had seen earlier, I immediately demanded that they describe it to me, as I wouldn’t be able to see it.
But once the challenge was over, and I started scrolling through my newsfeed, I realized that I hadn’t missed anything.
No one had posted about anything earthshattering, certainly nothing that I couldn’t live without seeing.
So even though staying off social media didn’t really stop me from wasting time on the Internet, it did make me realize how inconsequential it is.
It was a wake up call to see what a tiny impact it actually has on my daily life.
Though it didn’t make me want to give up social media forever, it has lessened the amount of time I spend using it, since I know now how little I gain from it.