Motley Tries: Social Media Hiatus

Do the apps of our generation make us insecure and less focused? Hannah Kingston discovers the truth in this month’s Motley tries.

Social media mediates every aspect of our lives, including our interpersonal relationships. Such vast developments in technology have the ability to both strengthen and weaken our bonds. This is shown in a plethora of case studies. Sherry Turkle, psychologist and author of Alone Together argues that our obsession with technology is not the glue that binds us together but the catalyst of an enlarging gulf between the real and the virtual world.

This is because the 21st Century allows us to constantly be “somewhere else.” We have access to different virtual realms like never before. The mobile phone is a distraction; an escape and has become a comfort to many. In fact, 1 in 5 Irish people state that they feel anxious if they are cut off from their smart-phone. In 2014, Facebook carried out a survey that showed that the first thing 80% of us do in the morning is check our phone.

Therefore it can’t be denied that while technology ensures the continuation of relationships and intimacy, it also damages the bonds we retain in the here and now. Not only that, but it makes us less focused when we’re alone. In a way, we’re constantly connected, a mere snap, message, poke, like, away. It’s gotten to the point where we never really say good-bye to the people we interact with.

Day One with no social media access

“Woah, are you actually uninstalling all the apps right now?”
Two minutes into pitching this column plan and they’re gone.
“Yes, I’ll need you here for moral support. We’ll say a month, actually no, three weeks, okay no; I’ll die, two weeks.”
Two weeks it was; no Facebook, Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram, Tinder, Twitter or Yik Yak for a fortnight. I was going back to how our elders interacted.

Prior to the social media ban, my Motley mates and I sat with our coffees all scrolling through various news feeds, of course we were catching up but only between finding out what the Kardashians called their next baby. (“Saint”, really?) What it really boils down to, is yes, we are a new generation, yes, with that comes technological advances that will probably serve a greater good. Nonetheless have we become so reliant on our smart phones and all their applications that we’re losing ourselves in our online personas and forgetting about the truly important things that are happening around us?

Well that is what I kept trying to tell myself as I sat there, jittery, constantly checking my phone but for what? No one texts these days. I felt so bored and alone and unloved. That’s when I realized I had an addiction.

Day Three
Some people say it takes three weeks to get over an addiction, some people say it’s three days. I haven’t logged onto anything but my fingers are twitching. This energy is channeled into assignments and low and behold, I finish the ones I’ve been whingeing about on Snapchat for the last three weeks in just three days. I’m amazed.
Fun fact: The average smart-phone user checks their device 110 times a day; and we’re surprised it’s taking us so long to get through our daily tenuous tasks?

Day Seven
I’m sleeping better. No more bedtime candy floss for the brain means I have a blissful slumber, minus weird dreams about someone who popped up on my news feed and who I haven’t spoken to in over two years. I finally read that book that’s been on my bedside table since September, and I feel like my mind has been given a spring clean.

Day Ten
I only talk to people who have my number and it’s refreshing. It’s more of an effort but it’s an endeavor that both parties are willing to make. I feel like I have more time on my hands to do practical things like sort out what I’m going to do with my life. Spotify wasn’t banned; and neither was weeping about one’s potentially failing future adult life. (Thank you Hozier. Thank you Pink Floyd. Thank you Adele.)
Despite my initial break-down, the lack of social media makes me feel like a clear-headed adult in their roaring twenties who will eventually figure it all out. Past Hannah would have looked up people of her age who have achieved so much more and feel terrible about herself. Present Hannah begins brainstorming post-graduate courses and thinking about herself, as opposed to others.

Day Fourteen
I have read six books, watched eight movies and even went for a run (well a jog, well a power walk…to the hummus.) I paid more attention. I looked up. I made real-life connections and cared more about maintaining the ones I already had, minus Snapchats of me in the bath with the caption “On holidayz gurl, wbu?”

I am thankful for this MotleyTries challenge because it allowed for the headspace that I needed. By the end of this year, it’s predicted that 90% of Irish people will own a smart-phone. That’s not a bad thing, they’re the future, but for your own sake, make sure you stay in the present.