Hello. My name is Libby Cardone and I am addicted to social media. (Hello Libby.) It’s said that the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that you have one, right? If that’s true then I think it’s time to face the facts that I cannot seem to go longer than an hour without impulsively scrolling through my Twitter or Tumblr feed. I like to think it’s not all so mind-numbing, a lot of the time I go on twitter after I learn of an important event that has happened so I can find out some more information and see what people are saying. However, if I’m completely honest with myself I know that that only accounts for about 20% of my app usage. I needed a wake up call. So I delivered one to myself.
The Wake Up Call Experiment would go as follows: a Twitter and Tumblr detox for five days straight, I would record every time I accidentally open the app and what I’m feeling during each time. I wanted to figure out when and why I would use these apps; I figured that if I knew why I felt the impulse to use the apps, maybe I could be mindful of that in the future in order to limit my time on them. In theory I should have been able to complete this experiment with no slip ups. I’m 21 years old, a senior in college and consider myself very responsible, five days without opening an application should be easy.
It wasn’t easy.
As depicted in my graph above it shows that I broke the rules of my experiment 10 times. In my recording of every break I learned some valuable information. This included the fact that I will often reach for Tumblr or Twitter first thing in the morning and again at some point around two in the afternoon. I also felt the urge to check the apps for different reasons, often times I was waiting for something to begin. On Friday I was at the DMV and was defiantly itching to relieve my boredom with a scroll through Twitter. In addition to that I found that when I had a moment of down time and my brain wasn’t occupied with anything else I also wanted to scroll. However, in recording my data something stuck out to me and worried me. Often times when I opened my phone to check the time or respond to a text, my thumb would reflexively open the app without even thinking about it.
Most of the time after I opened the apps only to have to instantly close them I felt annoyed. This was especially felt after all of my friends were talking about pop culture events that were happening and I couldn’t hop on twitter to see what other people were saying about it. This isn’t out of the ordinary, links between mental health and social media had been frequently recorded and Jean Twenge reported that because of social media, “Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011”. Reading that fact made me take a step back and think about my social media consumption, how many of my bad moods were because of social media and I never even realized?
In order to replace the apps I couldn’t go on I turned to different platforms to… well to waste my time frankly. I’ve never been the kind of person that clicked from YouTube video to YouTube video but for those five days I definitely was. However, I did also find that I had more focus when I was working on my assignments. Without the constant distraction of Twitter and Tumblr I was able to get my work done much faster than I normally do.
Personally, I’m not sure that I can completely give up both apps, I know that I should be optimistic and at least try, but realistically I’m just not sure. Maybe this is because I can’t wholeheartedly support the idea that these apps are detrimental to my life. I can admit that my focus would be better and I could free up a lot of times if I cut these apps out of my life. But that being said that would also include cutting out speaking to my best friend that lives across the country, finding a lot of inspiration for my art projects and laughing at silly jokes that brighten up my day. Although, I really do think there is a happy medium. I haven’t reopened either of these apps on my desktop and have kept my usage of them to my phone. I realize this is a baby step, but I already feel more focused. This experiment has defiantly made me more aware of the time that I waste throughout the day pointlessly scrolling. Now when I open either app I make sure I go on there with a purpose and a time cap so I am aware of how I’m using my time.