At the beginning of fall semester, I took the plunge: I deleted all of the social media apps off of my phone. In a self-inflicted attempt to engage more thoroughly with the present and make more awkward eye contact with strangers on M buses, away went Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Yik Yak, Vine, and Instagram, off into the unknown. (Not Snapchat, though. All hail Snapchat.) My phone became a device used almost exclusively for communication and the odd game of DinerDash.
I’d been really proud of myself these past few months, having apparently cut my social media usage to a minimum. I’d clearly become a more involved member of my community, devoting my several saved minutes a day to furthering myself as a human being.
And then Ray asked us to pay closer attention to our Internet usage, and all my delusions of screen-less grandeur went straight to Hell. I’m very proud of keeping all my bookmarked pages exclusively academic, in an attempt to prove to any one who comes snooping that I am a Very Serious Student. As it turns out, however, my saved shortcuts to WolverineAccess, ctools/Canvas, and Google Calendar don’t actually reflect my Internet usage. Try more along the lines of Facebook and YouTube, with the occasional foray into the world of random Google searches for the sake of entertainment. I go to these sites mechanically (it’s muscle memory; I no longer have to look at the keyboard), often, and for long periods of time. No wonder it takes me three hours to read a chapter of my musicology text book–the cheaper online version of textbooks are a little bit too close to the YouTube homepage for comfort.
I cut myself off of mobile social media, without really noticing that this had lead to a transfer of my habits rather than a resolution. The battery life on the phone lasts longer, but my laptop keys are sticky from overuse. I attempted to change my habits and succeeded, but only because I found a alternate source of my electronic comfort food. I think I could try again, try to diversify my Internet pathways and purposefully disrupt my navigational routines, but I’m not sure it’d really do any good. I could search for new up-and-coming social media platforms, and make more of an effort to find diverse news sources through which to inform myself of current events. If I put some key phrases into Google just to see what comes up, I’d probably come across some new content I wouldn’t otherwise have seen. But we all know that at the end of the day, I’ll just go running back into Facebook’s open arms, no matter the platform.
My data plan thanks me for relocating my Internet use to the router in our dining room. I thank it for still being there for me if I need it (Flo and her diner do get a little monotonous). Maybe someday I’ll reload the apps, but for now, I’m doing just fine without them.