Good afternoon everyone,
As humans we spend all our lives on an endless journey of self-discovery. We discover ourselves in different ways; through what people say about us, how they view us, the way we see ourselves in comparison to others and in relation to society. In this information age, and the 21st Century in particular, social media has become one of the main means through which we define ourselves. In a talk on social media, Sherry Turkle stated that we now embrace the concept of “I share therefore I am.” We now define our ideal selves through Facebook profiles, Twitter posts, and Instragram photos where we reveal the parts of us that we choose to and hide the parts we don’t want to be identified with. This leaves the question of who am I for the person who doesn’t see themselves as a ‘real’ user of social media.
About two weeks ago, I began a Communication Technology course and the class was challenged to abstain from all social media for three whole days. Many students in the class certainly found it a daunting challenge as we live in an age where statistically we look at our smartphones about 150 times a day (Jones). For example, my younger sister told me that she would rather break her leg than not be able to use her smartphone for just one day. It’s no wonder why since the phone has almost become a part of her and her life. This response did not surprise me as my sister, like many others her age, seem to live through their smartphones where they experience life through the medium of the phone, but are not actually engaging in life (Jones and Colier). I find this phenomena perplexing because I tend to limit my use of social media, or so I had thought. However, in the three days of my challenge I actually realised that I use social media more than I realize and I discovered some things about myself.
This challenge was undertaken without prior warning and so I was not in any way able to prepare myself for my social media fast. In some ways the fast was easy for me as I’m not on Facebook, Twitter, and I don’t own a smartphone so there’s no use of Wattsapp, Instagram or any other social media apps. However, I did have to abstain from Youtube, which I am a huge consumer of. I also couldn’t browse Wattpad, a social networking site for writers that I am also a consumer of. Not being able to read book updates by the writers I was following or being able to listen to music videos on Youtube was only manageable because I knew that after the three days were over I’d be able to consume the media as before. In those three days though, I focused on reflecting on my personal use of social media and discovered three important things about myself.
First I realized that although I had falsely prided myself on not being a huge social media user. The fact is that I am a large consumer of a small selection of social media sites, but I produce very little myself. Secondly, I came to understand that I hide from social media because I like to keep a distance between my private life and public life and I often feel that social media is to public for my preference. Third, I accepted the fact that social media can be a very useful platform for gaining information and learning about oneself. Therefore, I decided to give social media a chance and create a blog chronicling my journey of self-discovery, but also providing information that can make the path of self-discovery easier for others as well. So this is my introductory post and my next post will represent the start of the self-discovery journey – the physical.
Now until next time, I invite you all to undertake the same challenge I did and take a three day fast from all social media. After the three days, reflect on your experience and see what you may have learned about yourself in the process. Share your experience in the comment section below and join me on the path of self-discovery. And if you think three days is tough, see how Paul Miller spent a year offline and what he learned about himself in the process.
Colier, Nancy. “Is Your Smartphone Stealing Your Life?” Psychology Today. 11 Nov. 2012. Web. 26 Feb. 2015 <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inviting-monkey-tea/201211/is-your-smartphone-stealing-your-life>
Jones, Bridget. “Living Life Through A Smartphone.” Stuff.co.nz. 09 March 2012. Web. 26 Feb. 2015. <http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/gadgets/7598063/Living-life-through-a-smartphone>
Miller, Paul. “A Year Offline, What I Learned.” Youtube. 13 Sep. 2013 Web. 26 Feb. 2015 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trVzyG4zFMU>
Turkle, Sherry. “Connected, but Alone.” Youtube. 03 April 2012. Web. 10 Feb. 2015 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7Xr3AsBEK4>