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Basically a 24 Hour Social Media Fast

Background:

I’m currently a senior studying marketing at the University of Kansas. I’ve taken a bunch of interesting business classes and I am currently taking a Digital and Social Marketing class which I’m really enjoying! A career involving this is something that I’m wanting to pursue after I graduate next semester!

The first assignment for this class was to refrain from using social media, apps, and texting for 24 hours and to write an essay about it.

Going into this assignment I knew it was going to be challenging. I live by myself and don’t spend time with friends too often due to different schedules. Social media and my phone are what I use to communicate to my loved ones daily since in person is a rarity. I thought that turning off my phone would mean completely disconnecting from the people I love. Besides as a mean of communication, social media is also my main form of entertainment and the platform that I use for running my blog and for work at my internship.

Okay so if you skipped that whole part above (I don’t blame you), basically I was challenged to turn my phone off, or at least avoid using it for 24 hours. Specifically, I had to refrain from using social media, and apps, it was also suggested to avoid texting and emailing.

Sounds pretty easy right? It wasn’t.

The Challenge:

Before I started my social media fast, I gave myself some rules, because the assignment guidelines left some wiggle room for what was allowed.

  1. I wasn’t going to turn my phone off, instead I would just refrain from using it and I wouldn’t check it regularly.
  2. For the sake of my snap streaks, I would cheat and send Snapchats to my streaks at the beginning and in the middle of the fast. (But that’s it!!)
  3. I decided I would only respond to text messages from my family, boyfriend, and close friends, but besides that I’d refrain from texting.

So that’s it! Beyond the occasional Snapchat, or text for a whole 24 hours I’d be app-less, network-less, and dead to all things social media. I just had to decide when to pull the plug. My goal was to be unconscious for as much of the 24 hours as I could be. So I chose to start it January 23rd @9 pm and it would end on January 24th @9 pm.

The first night was tough, and I often found myself trying to check my phone before heading to bed.

On Wednesday January 24th the only plans I had were going to my class at 9:30 am that would last until 10:45 am

That’s it.

The first thing I did when I woke up was reach for my phone and try to check social media. I did send a Snapchat to all of my streaks saying something “clever” like “I’m cheating on you” (I’m sure my boyfriend didn’t appreciate that one). I already had a text from my mom, so I opened it and gave a brief response.

I got ready for my class without using my phone and made it to class around 9:20 am. Right before class my research partner texted me, and even though I said I would avoid texting, it felt rude not to respond to her, especially since she didn’t know I was completing the fast. So I texted her back and we had a brief conversation about the assignment due that morning.

After class I grabbed lunch at the dining hall with a coworker. Normally I would spend my lunch checking social media or texting a friend, but instead I had a conversation with my coworker, and asked them about their day.

I spent the rest of my day alone in my room working on assignments.

Around 4 pm the fire alarm in my building went off, and my first reaction was to grab my phone and take a Snapchat, but I didn’t (are you proud of me yet?)! When we exited the building and as we waited for the fire officers to reset the system I looked around to see everyone else on their phone. It felt weird.

After the fire alarm I went to dinner, except I didn’t see anyone I knew, so I ate alone. I’m used to eating meals alone but usually I have my phone to occupy my time, instead this time I just focused on my food. After dinner I took a nap, and a shower and generally tried to tidy up my room a bit.

At 8 pm I had exactly one hour to go and I gotta say I was struggling to find ways to keep myself entertained.

By the time 9 pm rolled around I felt relieved. I did a quick check of all my social media profiles, checking all my notifications before I put my phone down again.

It turns out that I hadn’t really missed that much in the grand scheme of things.

The Results:

Before the fast I had been so worried about how boring and lonely the day would get, but I did manage to occupied my time with other things besides social media. However I didn’t feel “more plugged in,” to real world in result of my break from social media. Instead I felt like I was missing out on important news, or entertainment, or even just hearing from and interacting with the people I love.

One of the hardest aspects of this entire assignment was getting notifications sent to my phone but being unable to open or look at them. There’s something about seeing the notification but not being able to open it that just killed me.

I know that taking breaks from social media can be very beneficial and important. Breaks can be a good way of making sure you’re taking care of yourself and maintaining good mental health and a good self image. Breaks are also a good way of making sure that we’re spending more time face-to-face time with the people we love.

We also need to make sure that we’re respectful with our social media usage, and not using it when people are trying to have conversations with us, etc. However, social media isn’t evil. It can be a good source of entertainment, and a lot of people use social media to connect with people they love that they can’t see regularly, some people also use it as a creative outlet!

After this assignment I am going to try to cut back on the amount of time I spend on social media and I’m going to try to find more productive or beneficial ways to spend my time!

Would you try this 24 hour challenge?? Let me know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Basically a 24 Hour Social Media Fast

  1. I wrote today about instant gratification and I watched this talk which spoke about how the chemical dopamine makes us want to continually check our phones and notifications etc. I had to go phone free when mine broke and needed to be repaired. It did make me feel far more alert and since then I have cut down.
    I understand when you have people living away from you though. I’m the same. There are some people where a phone our main communication. 🙂

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  2. Fascinating experiment. I guess I feel phones and social media are both tools that, like other tools, can be used for good or evil. You write, “social media isn’t evil” and I agree. But if you are habitually using your phone or social media to avoid legitimate responsibilities and in person relationships, the social media itself is still not evil, but the way it’s being used? It can be pretty negative, IMO. Shoot, we’ve all heard stories of pedestrians being hit by cars because they were attending to their phones instead of their surroundings. And this is without addressing addiction.

    On the other hand, used responsibly they are wonderful.

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