By Jenalyn Camagong
This semester, I am taking a course called Treatment of Chemical Dependency. In the beginning of the semester, our instructor gave us an assignment; which is to give up one thing this semester that is meaningful. One classmate of mine gave up coffee, another classmate gave up eating chocolates. I decided to give up on social media, specifically Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. My definition of relapse is logging into my account or downloading the application on my phone. Because I would have to post somethings on the NASW HI social media accounts, I wouldn’t count that since I am not logging into my own account. At first, it took time getting used to because it would be a habit for me to check onto social media when I would get bored. I relapsed a couple weeks in but after that relapse, I have been doing pretty well and haven’t logged into any my social media accounts. Giving up social media for this semester really helped with my time management. Instead of being so distracted by funny videos or posting pictures, or finding the perfect filter to post the photo, I use the time to work on my assignments instead. Ever since I gave up social media, my definition of quality time has improved. That means no taking photos during dinner, then taking the whole dinner time posting photos on social media. Instead of being curious of what other people post, I now have more quality conversations with my parents and my fiance over dinner.
Interestingly, a few weeks ago in one of my other classes we were discussing how technology robs us of actually connecting with others. We watched a TED talk titled Connected, but Alone? by Sherry Turkle. Turkle says “...we sacrifice real conversation with mere connection.” Turkle explains that people feel that “no one is listening,” that is why people turn to social media because people would be able to automatically see the person’s feed. Turkle further explains that “...the feeling of no one is listening makes us want to spend time with technology that seems to care about us.” When I watched this, it made me think of how children in elementary have cell phones or iPads who will grow up with social media. Even my mom creates more posts on Facebook more than I do! People of all ages are getting used to technology and social media.
I’ve learned a lot about myself while abstaining from social media. I learned to time manage better and use time much more wisely, which lessens the chance of procrastinating on my assignments. I learned to delight in making quality time without the interruption of wanting to share my whereabouts through social media. I am not as distracted by seeking what events other people are partaking in but instead I learn look forward to the present time with the people I am with. The amount of likes don’t compare to the amazing feeling of quality conversations. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against technology however, I believe like everything else, it should be used in moderation. Technology and social media is very useful and assist us through convenience, which is not a bad thing. When I had Facebook, I was able to connect with family members who are residing in other countries or another state. People are updated on the current events through social media, or connect with classmates back in highschool, middle, or even elementary from years ago. I’m taking a virtual class because that was one of the classes that could fit in my schedule. Technology and social media have their usefulness but they become a distraction to a certain extent.
I am concerned about the children of this day and age that grow up using technology and social media at an early age. As they start to develop, they go through phases and stages learning about themselves and their relationship with their peers. Children will grow having the convenience of technology and social media to connect with others. However, technology and social media can also be harmful to them; as they try to gain acceptance from others through social media or be involved in a situation where cyberbullying happens.
After watching the TED talk from Sherry Turkle, it reminded me that we use technology to distract us. For me, it was a distraction away from boredom. Sometimes, we unintentionally do this with children when they can’t stop crying. I am guilty of this; when my niece is throwing a tantrum, I distract her by finding a video on YouTube for her to watch and she stops throwing a fit. I found that this backfired, I later realized she was conditioned to associate throwing tantrums and getting her iPad. My sister has a rule that when it is dinner time for her family, the children would have to put away their iPads so they can have quality time during dinner. My sister and her husband also educate their children on the dangers of being online.
My mini experiment of abstaining from social media shaped my perspective on my relationships with others and connecting better with those around me. It made me think of issues and concerns; which gave me an idea on how can I be able to make a difference. Social media and technology can be fun and it’s great to keep up with the trend when it is used in moderation. Technology is so helpful in many aspect in our lives and we get to connect with people who we haven’t seen in a while through social media. Don’t forget to connect with the people in front of you in times where it matters.
Turkle, S. (2012, February). Sherry Turkle: Connected but alone? [Video file].
Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together/up-next