Our lives are run by social networking every single day. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and Flickr are just a few of the ways we stay connected with the outside world without having to actually go outside. It may seem quite natural, society taking advantage of its new technological advancements to the fullest, but we have to look around. It has been reported that Americans alone spend 32.7 hours per week on the Web. In essence, we spend almost a full quarter of our week just staring into the blank void known as the World Wide Web, trying to find entertainment, when we could all be doing something more productive. Now, that is not to say that all of that time is spent on Facebook, refreshing the page to see if anyone just commented on your topically relevant status, or that recently added photo album of you and your friends down in Cancun last summer. But that non- Facebook time is not being spent any more productively either. I guess what I am trying to say is: When did we stop taking advantage of the Internet and start allowing it to take advantage of us?
I would be lying if I did not say I was partially addicted to it myself. Okay, maybe more than partially, but you get my drift . Even as I wrote this article, I got so bored looking up facts and statistics that I went straight to my familiar blue/white home away from home. As a first-year in college, better yet, a member of the youth in America, I know I am not the only one. We all have had those moments where we just went to quickly check something online and then found ourselves cyber-stalking our friends for hours. Or getting a link to a YouTube video and then ending up browsing the site for other adorable videos of cats doing things they should not, like playing the piano, for example. What… just me?
Anyway, after being partially inspired by the countless number of “Facebook Detox” experiments that have already been done (and feeling sort of guilty for not turning in one of my articles on time for The Sandspur last week), I decided to do something that most people have not tried before: a full-on Internet Detox. THE Detox, if you will. In brief, let me quote my current Facebook status, the update my friends and family have seen since Sunday or will see for the remainder of the week: “For the next week, I’m done with all frivolous social networking (Facebook, Skype, etc) and other forms of waste via the Internet (YouTube, Huff Po, etc). Starting midnight (Sunday 19th) to next week (Sunday 26th), I’m “detoxing.” My profile will stay activated to gather data and for others to know what’s up. If you need me, CALL ME! (The ONLY way you’ll get hold of me.) See you soon.”
It is that simple. Well, it sounds simple, at least. In the end, I am limiting my use of the Internet to only things that will directly benefit me academically for the time being (i.e., going on Blackboard to print homework assignments, research for papers, etc.) As my only exception to the rule, I am allowing myself five minutes of time a day to check/respond to my two major e-mail accounts (my Rollins account and my other professional account), as it is the only way my professors and others can reach me when they do not have my phone number, especially in cases of emergency. Everything else, though, is off the table. If I want to get the news, I will have to find my nearest newspaper instead of hitting up the Web. I cannot check my Facebook, any of my e-mail accounts or go on the Internet using my phone, and I have un-subscribed to all text messaging services informing me of any new comments, friend requests, etc. My phone will just be… a phone.
Now, I know that many will not think that I have gone far enough, but what do you expect? Completely giving up the computer for a week? Now that would be crazy. Besides, I am not trying to isolate myself by saying the entire Internet is bad. I am just trying to cut out as much waste as I can and see if anything beneficial will come out of it. Might I find myself compensating for my newfound time meeting new people and catching some sun, or will I spend it watching more TV and remaining isolated from the real world? Only time will tell. Wish me luck and I will be back with my results in a week’s time (if I can make it until then).