I decided to attempt 48-hour social media sabbatical and then report back my experiences following this sabbatical (or attempt). I read about some other people’s experiences with unplugging (see the References links below) and had confidence in my ability to abstain for 2 days. Taking a 48-hour break from social media may sound like a simple task to some, but I quickly found out that it was an extremely difficult one for me. I chose to attempt this feat over a weekend during a trip to visit family, so figured that I would be able to refrain from social media access for a full 48 hours, but ended up failing quite miserably.
I have come to the realization that I am more than slightly “addicted” to my iPhone and the quick access that it gives me to information. I put my phone down on the coffee table for a few hours, but then decided that I wanted to enter some online contests while waiting for my other family members to arrive for dinner. Most online contests now involve accessing social media accounts, so that was my first major fail. The next fail came after dinner, when my grandmother wanted to see some of my wedding photos (which happen to be housed on Facebook). Facebook was my downfall during the sabbatical. Facebook Messenger and the Facebook App make on-the-go access almost too easy. I can state that after one weekend of attempting to stay away from social media, that I failed miserably at my task. My experience is very different than that of my spouse (who only uses one social media service, LinkedIn). Being without social media even for a few short hours now feels like I am missing out on what is going on in the world. Thinking back to when I was much younger, I had to read the newspaper the day after news occurred in order to stay up-to-date on local and international events. Now, I can simply scroll anytime through a newsfeed or view a Twitter feed for up-to-the-minute information.
Communication is definitely changing, and we are becoming more interested in instant news and updates. No need to consult an old encyclopedia set for information, when Google has all of the answers at your fingertips. The main lesson that I learned from attempting this social media sabbatical is that I pay way too much attention to my phone. I will make a conscious effort going forward to put my phone (and iPad) away for at least a few hours each evening in order to have technology-free time with my spouse. Social media and smartphones have made a huge impact on society and how we socialize with those around us. Some say that social media has had a positive impact on socialization and our ability to communicate openly and others say that it is isolating.
I read a few very interesting articles and blog postings on the subject and have to agree with most of the thoughts outlined in The Impact of the Internet on Society: A Global Perspective 1) “For instance, media often report that intense use of the Internet increases the risk of isolation, alienation, and withdrawal from society, but available evidence shows that the Internet neither isolates people nor reduces their sociability; it actually increases sociability, civic engagement, and the intensity of family and friendship relationships, in all cultures”. Social media brings people together virtually, but can also keep us apart physically in the real world. This past weekend was only my first attempt at a social media sabbatical. I will put much more thought into how my constant smartphone use is negatively affecting those around me and will aim to be more successful next time I attempt to unplug for a period of time. I will try to put my phone down more often and enjoy the real world.
1) Castells, Manuel, (September 8, 2014) The Impact of the Internet on Society: A Global Perspective Retrieved from: http://www.technologyreview.com/view/530566/the-impact-of-the-internet-on-society-a-global-perspective/
2) Jay, The New Randomness Blog (February 12, 2014) Social Media Sabbatical: Try It. You Might Like It. Retrieved from: http://thenewrandomness.blogspot.ca/2014/02/social-media-sabbatical-try-it-you.html
3) Smarty, Ann, (No Date) Social Media and Society: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Retrieved from: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/social/social-media-and-society-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/
4) Strobel, Tammy, (September 20, 2010) A Magical Block of Time: Lessons Learned from My Digital Sabbatical Retrieved from: http://www.rowdykittens.com/2010/09/a-magical-block-of-time/