Like I said in my first post, I was surprised in regards to how much more time I felt I had. Instead of scrolling through Facebook feeds and seeing what people are doing or complaining about, it’s time I spent thinking about my future, reading, or running errands. At night, I felt less anxious in general, and I was able to end my nights a bit earlier with reading or catching up on a television show. Overall, I just found it to be a less stressful experience.
That said, I can see the simultaneous blessing and curse of something like Facebook messenger. On one hand, it lets me know that people have seen my messages and allows me to see them replying. On the other hand, it lets me know that people have seen my messages and allows me to see them replying. Sure–it’s good to know that my messages have been delivered, but if folks don’t reply after I’m able to confirm delivery, it can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Did I say the wrong thing? Is someone mad at me? What exactly did I do?!
I allowed for text messaging and, to a lesser extent, Skype. Text messaging had me spending less time typing as I was reluctant to text out long messages by hand. That said, I didn’t speak to too many people, so it lets me see that Facebook helps me to keep in touch with my limited social network. Of course, the week without social media made me realize that I should probably work on spending more time with friends in person. It’s something I plan to work on.
For all of the positive things the internet enables us to do, I worry that it has made us entirely too dependent. Previously, we would have to wait for a phone call or an appropriate time to speak. Now, we receive texts and messages from restaurants, family parties, delivery rooms, busy bathrooms, and the shadiest of bathrooms, and we’re none the wiser, but we overanalyze our interactions when we see that they’ve been read and not replied to.
Studies have been done showing that social media can cause depression. Naturally, everyone seeks to put their best foot forward, so when we scroll through the feed, we see social gatherings, smiles, good times, and life milestones. What we create is an example of what Baudrillard referred to as the hyperreal–a simulation that seems idealistic and perfect. Of course, we compare this idealism to our own imperfect lives and feel flawed. It’s all just a level of verisimilitude, not actual reality.
Really, this week without social media has made me realize that moderation is an absolute necessity when it comes to the interaction between technology and human life. We need to recognize the benefits of technology and social media, but we also need the discipline and self-awareness to step away when it becomes too much, to stay human and experience both the beautiful and the ugly.