Social media deprivation: The end of the world as we know it!
With shaking hands, a dry mouth and excessive sweat, I deactivated all my social media accounts, and went online to lookup the long list of other addiction withdrawal symptoms!
Three long days to put behind me as soon as I complete this assignment. I could not believe that I found the will to deactivate my accounts. I guess I was motivated by curiosity to see whether I can get through this assignment, and to learn about its possible effects. I saw in it an opportunity, and that helped me persist and continue to the end.
The first day was filled with anxiety and restlessness. I went through the day with a constant feeling that something was missing. I felt totally alone and isolated. My friends were a click away, yet I could not reach them. What are they posting on Facebook? What were they exchanging on Whatsapp? What photos did they post on Instagram today? Thank God this is Tuesday, not the weekend.
The day progressed with friends popping up on campus to ask me why I was “offline”. Some even expressed dissatisfaction as they thought I was intentionally ignoring them and not replying to their messages. l had to explain that I was too busy with classes and assignments, or say I was being overwhelmed by too many messages on Facebook. As more and more friends asked, I explained that this was required for a class assignment, and that they will have to bear with me for the coming three days.
Nevertheless, I could not discard a thought which kept jumping into my head. In a way I was feeling a bit relieved. A few days away from the pressures of constant communication with everyone. May be it will be an opportunity to relax. I was inclined to agree with Paul Miller that “Leaving the internet was so great… at first. It was the relief of pressure that I’d wanted for years. No more push notifications, no more calendar invites, no more reply-all’d email threads, no more retweets, friend requests, text messages, or rabbit holes”, (June, 2012).
The second day, I started to feel a bit more relaxed. I searched my bookshelf to find a good book to read. I chose Macbeth. The more I read, the more I remembered how fond I was of reading, and the joy I always used to get out of it. Social media, with all the advantages it gave me, has changed my habits. It made life easy and through it I could easily access a lot of information, about friends, people, news, science, literature and the world. Reading Macbeth made me realize that nothing, not even social media, can replace a good book.
The third day, Thursday, I was busy with my classes. When I returned home, I completely forgot to reactivate my social media accounts. As I went into the house, I saw my father sitting behind his desk working. I started a conversation with him, and soon he forgot all about what he was doing and we were jumping from one subject to the next, as if catching up on things. It hit me that it has been some time since we sat together and talked.
I realized then that I usually go to my room and engage my friends on Facebook and Whatsapp, and soon it would be too late in the evening to do anything with my family.
I quickly went to the living room and started a conversation with my mother. In no time, my brother joined in and we called my father to sit with us. It was then that I I came to understand how “the disconnectionists see the Internet as having normalized, perhaps even enforced, an unprecedented repression of the authentic self in favor of calculated avatar performance”, (Jurgenson, 2013).
The three days ended, and the experience had a profound effect on me. I discovered that I missed the warmth and security social media gave me, with friends, and the knowledge which was always at my fingertips. On the other hand, I rediscovered the warmth and security my family made me feel. The good reading also motivated me to dedicate some time now and then to visit some of the many hobbies I really enjoyed before social media came into my life.
“Such rhetoric is common. Op-eds, magazine articles, news programs, and everyday discussion frames logging off as reclaiming real social interaction with your real self and other real people”, (Jurgenson, 2013).
June, L. (2012). Paul Miller: Offline. Retrieved from http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/8/3007525/paul-miller-offline
Jurgenson, N. (2013). The Disconnectionists. Retrieved from http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/the-disconnectionists/