A millennial experiment: the 7-day social media blackout
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A full calendar week without any access to social media (barring Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps). An insurmountable task or an easy feat? I’m always up for a challenge, big or small, so when my editor and pal Alessandro assigned this piece to me I was ready to put my self to the test. There was a new film about to come out - Ingrid Goes West - about social media stalking, and that prompted the idea for this social experiment. Yes, it’s not exactly a groundbreaking piece of hard-hitting journalism, I didn’t even have to work that hard for it. I just had to avoid doing something that, in theory, should only take up a small part of my day. Whether seven days of no social sounds like a piece of cake to you, or you don’t think you could ever get through it alive, there are lessons to be learnt from every experience. Including this kind of self-inflicted social experiment. I had something to prove to myself and to all millennials out there. Why should we let those out of touch boom babies taunt us with our phone addictions? Someone had to take one for the team and prove once and for all whether life sans social media is any life at all. We’ll take a look at how I fared throughout the experiment and what I gained from it by the end. Precautionary measures If you are a normal person with average self-restraint this shouldn’t be necessary, but since I know I can’t be trusted to avoid all social media apps just from sheer willpower I had to put up some deterrents. To block all possible distractions on my laptop I used a blacklist extension on Chrome and selected which website I wanted to be blacklisted. I would instinctively try and log on to YouTube or Twitter whenever I had nothing better to do and I’d be slapped with a “blacklisted” warning. As far as my phone was concerned, I ended up putting all social media (and Grindr, for my own good) in a lonesome folder away from their fellow apps. Day One It’s Friday morning, the alarm goes off and I have a few minutes to snooze before getting up and leaving the house but with this social media blockade, I have nothing to browse through while I’m in bed. How bad is that? The minute I open my eyes my finger immediately goes searching for a social feed to peruse.The rest of the day goes by pretty smoothly, now that I don’t have the luxury to go on Instagram and drool over hot people. I just read a book on my Kindle app instead and at uni lectures I’m not tempted by the open tabs of Facebook and Twitter. Success. Day Two Productivity levels are up; this term’s coming to an end and my assignments are piling up so this was actually much needed. My day feels weirdly empty without all the useless information dump but I really should implement this every time I have exams. I can live without Twitter or Facebook but the absence of Youtube is felt strongly. I wasn’t even sure if YouTube is classified as a social media platform but I added it to the list just in case. Day Three
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Ingrid Goes West, the film that inspired this article, is available now on DVD and Digital Download.
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