40 Days. No Facebook.

Capture

If you know anything about me, you know that I’ve partaken in some downright daft activities.

For instance, in the midst of studying for six AP exams, I’ve also been waking before dawn to train for a marathon.

I could ramble on about the psychological base of my behaviors, but I’ll save that for another time. For the past 40 days of the lenten season, even though I’m not remotely Catholic, I’ve given up all social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr, and Reddit.

Why? On social media, I take a bit of an old-fashion view. Call me crazy, as I’m sure, looking back, you will, but I feel that face-to-face interaction and handwritten notes are a lost art. Just because we can send a SnapChat halfway around the globe in a split-second doesn’t mean that we should.

So, in an attempt to better my productivity (Forbes reported last year that Facebook use at work might cost the economy $1.4 trillion– link below) and better my people skills (there are hundreds of books and articles that extol the ‘Facebook Effect’), I gave it all up for nearly six weeks.

But now it’s Easter and my media fast is complete. Have the studies been vindicated? Has my productivity shot through the roof? Have I become a swift conversationalist with a penchant for telling stories about my childhood?

Overall, I’ve seen only a moderate effect coming from my fast, with some benefits and some costs.

The first few weeks were tough– I missed several school events simply because I didn’t know they were happening. Getting in touch with people was also a problem because of my lack of cellular device. By taking away Facebook, my ability to act like a normal teenage and interact was greatly hindered, which in itself might have negated any social interaction epiphany I might have gained from my experiment.

But here is one takeaway: life without the constant social media onslaught is possible. Given I wasn’t all that addicted to social media to begin with (I don’t own a simple cell phone, never mind an iPhone or Android device), perhaps the withdrawal would have been greater for someone who checks their newsfeed, Instagram, or SnapChat every ten minutes on the dot.

But here’s something interesting: whenever I took breaks from studying or working, I no longer felt the need to check-in with Facebook and see what the masses were up to. Instead, I actually did something productive, like watch a TED talk or clean my already pristine living quarters. But with social media unblocked from my browser, I’ve regained the ability to post, tweet, plus, and tumble (is that a verb now?). Will this hinder my productivity? Only time will tell, though I fear that I will once again want to know what everyone is up to at every second of the day.

Here’s what to take away from my mini-experiment:

  • Social media, while facilitative, has been said to come with costs to our productivity and interaction.
  • Giving up social media lowered my ability to interact with others, BUT increased my ability to work hard for longer and use more time more productively.

Perhaps one day, when I no longer care about who’s dating whom or the scantly-dressed girl vying for attention by posting picture after picture, I’ll give up social media again. But for now, it stays.

Forbes article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/petercohan/2012/02/08/is-facebook-slicing-1-4-trillion-out-of-u-s-gdp/2/

Psychology and Facebook: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/10/04/facebook-happiness-and-self-esteem/

1 Comment

  1. You only got 4 notifications during 6 weeks….I’d say your rate of social interaction via media decreased the effectiveness of your experiment. In order to really test this thing, you might need to find the average use of Facebook and then get some teens who claim that much use. They probably won’t want to do your experiment, but its a more effective test.

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