Individuals challenged to spend week without Facebook, other sites
What if social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter went down for one week? What would you do?
Sleep more? Read more? Get unbelievably bored? The answer to each question was “yes” for several of the seven local people who agreed to abandon all social media forums for one week as part of an experiment for The Daily Sentinel.
The experiment was inspired by the movie “The Social Network,” released in theaters Friday, Oct. 1. The film is based on the creation of Facebook, which millions of people around the world use to network or stay connected with friends and acquaintances in different countries or right down the street.
The Daily Sentinel’s experiment was simple: no social media from midnight Wednesday, Sept. 15, through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21. No tweets, no Facebook, no Skype for one week. E-mail and telephone were permitted, as was — gasp — face-to-face conversation.
“It was harder than I thought it’d be,” said 21-year-old Katie Schultz, a Mesa State College student.
Including Schultz, those who participated in the experiment were Jessica Whelan, 20, Wayne Blumberg, 35, and Kathryn Ledwell, 24, all Mesa State students. Full-time professionals Matt Canterbury, 32, and Maggie Moorland, 34, also took part in the challenge. Fruita Monument High School junior Brandon Bishop, 16, rounded out the field.
Facebook is the top social media outlet for everyone and all were intrigued by how they would do without it.
Ledwell said she has self-regulated her Facebook use in the past, but never made herself give it up entirely.
The Daily Sentinel left it up to the individuals to be honest about their social media usage during the week. And some admitted cheating. Only one, Moorland, flat out gave up.
“I was bored,” Moorland admitted. She felt guilty, but cheated anyway.
As the resource development officer for Mesa County Partners, Moorland uses Facebook for work, social interaction and academics. She is a part of a Facebook forum for an accounting class she is taking at Mesa State while pursuing a master’s in business administration. However, her reason for abandoning the challenge just three days in had nothing to do with work or academics.
“You know, I probably didn’t miss a lot, but I felt like I did,” Moorland said.
Moorland’s son, Bishop, did what his mother was unable to do.
When Bishop told his friends he gave up Facebook for a week, they questioned why he would do that, but he was confident in his self-control.
And don’t think for a second that Bishop doesn’t really use social media.
“Depends on the day, but if I have nothing to do, it can be three or four hours a night,” said Bishop of his time on Facebook.
Bishop also regularly uses Skype for live, online video-conferencing with two friends ... whom he sees at school, every day. Bishop has a Twitter account but doesn’t use it.
Facebook is what he primarily uses, posting comments and pictures with friends and planning weekend activities.
When Bishop logged back on at the end of the experiment, he discovered life had moved on without him. And he didn’t care, too much.
“There was so much to catch up on,” Bishop said. “My Facebook feed didn’t go back far enough.”
Bishop was the only person in the experiment — minus Moorland — who discovered dozens of posts to his Facebook wall upon returning to social media. Everyone else — minus Moorland — found that not much had happened in one week on their Facebook page.
“When I logged back on, I noticed it was the same old stuff,” said Blumberg, who uses social media to stay in touch with friends he rarely sees, many of whom live in other states.
Blumberg used the time he would have spent on Facebook to do some reading.
His college roommate, Whelan, said she picked up her phone and actually called people.
Schultz found herself talking more with people, sitting around bored and using e-mail. Schultz uses Facebook as her computer home page, so every time she turned on her computer, she had to throw her hands over the computer screen. She also had to ignore her mobile phone, which notifies her every time someone posts to her Facebook wall.
Ledwell said that without social media, she actually got 8–9 hours of sleep a night, an unheard of amount of sleep for some college students.
Canterbury, a college admissions counselor, faced an additional challenge during the week when his wife, who doubted he could give up social networking, upped the ante and dared him to give up all recreational websites such as ESPN and http://www.steepandcheap.com, his self-proclaimed “vice.” Canterbury even uses Twitter to get his news teases every morning.
But Canterbury was proudly able to steer clear of social network and recreational Internet sites for the week. Of course, he was allowed to use social networking for work because prospective college students use websites such as Facebook to pose questions to him and other admissions counselors.
“More than anything else, I was disappointed I couldn’t find out what was going on in the world,” Canterbury said. “Taking that away from me was simply disappointing.”