One student’s courageous attempt to escape the damaging clutches of a Facebook-addicted world
By Sophie Isbister, Contributor
Don’t you hate that feeling? You know the one. The hot warmth on the palm of your hands as you cradle the back of your smartphone like it’s the skull of your precious newborn baby, gazing into its single LCD eye. That’s the feeling I’m thinking about as I plan my current personal experiment: a four-week social media detox, chronicled in The Other Press, the trusty traditional media source that you’re currently reading.
I started to suspect I might have a dependency on social media when I picked up my Android smartphone to check my Facebook notifications—while I was already looking at Facebook in my laptop browser window.
My suspicions were further confirmed when I realized I couldn’t pick a sushi restaurant in downtown Vancouver without the aid of the review and maps site Yelp, available in a handy app on my phone. Katrina C. says that Sushi Bang is the best sushi place downtown, but Kelvin G. wonders how anyone could possibly consider Sushi Bang to even be food, which leaves Sophie I. wondering where the hell she should get her negitoro roll with all this conflicting information!
But stuff really started to get real when I found myself delving deep into a maze of comments-upon-comments in the blogosphere. I would click, scroll, and expand comments with an almost compulsive zeal. I would not be content until I had read all 1,476 comments on every Huffington Post article, no matter how much the uninformed opinions of the masses pained me. Negative comments made me wince, while comments I agreed with bolstered my spirits just enough to keep the endless loop going.
Now it seems I can’t read a book without seeing what Jessica K. on Goodreads thinks about it. I can’t pick a perfume or nail polish without seeing what the folks at Basenotes or Makeupalley think. And I definitely can’t make a life-altering decision without first posing the question to my over-600 Facebook friends (595 of whom I never see on a regular basis).
It has become abundantly clear that this needs to stop. On Sunday, September 16, I will be cutting the cord, shutting the door, and dimming the lights on my decade-long relationship with social media. No longer will I Tweet or Yelp or Flickr my way through the World Wide Web. For the duration of my four-week experiment I will remove all the social media apps from my phone. I’ll steer clear of web-based media and their downward spiral of vicious commenters. I’ll even try to plan my birthday party the old fashioned way: by dusting off the “call” function on my smart phone and actually saying, “Hey,” no matter how tedious and time consuming it promises to be.