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My Social Media Diet: An HC Writer Gives Up Facebook, Email, & Twitter for 24 Hours

My Facebook account, active since June 2007, has 939 friends and 840 tagged photos; my browser history shows I’ve been to 197 separate pages on Facebook in the past 24 hours alone. My email account – an amalgamation of personal, school, and work emails – overflows at a hefty 8045 messages acquired since June 2008.  I’ve tweeted 5751 times since January 2009; I follow 254 accounts and am followed by another 363. Except for the rare occasions on which I lose my precious 4G connection, I’m pretty much glued to social media at all times.
So, what would happen when I did the unthinkable and truly disconnected for a day? I took the plunge and went on a 24 hour social media diet: no Facebook, no email, no Twitter. I scheduled my challenge for Wednesday, my lightest schedule of the week. With only two classes, that would leave plenty of time for #temptation. Could I hold out?

The morning went fairly smoothly. Although I wanted to check in with my various social media accounts (especially email – leaving work emails to stagnate in my inbox for a day felt so wrong), I ignored the urge. Without the distraction of the Internet slowing me down in the morning, I was able to cut time out of my routine and scooted out of my dorm ten minutes early. Hannah: 1, social media: 0.
During my first class, History and Art History of Rome, I was engaged in the discussion, so ignoring my phone was easy. But my next class, a neuroscience lab, was a different story. We were dissecting sheep brains and actually encouraged by our professor to take cell phone snapshots along the way to help us remember what different sections of the brain looked like. I was so tempted to take a picture of my friend carving into the brain with a long, sharp knife, upload it to Facebook, and tag her in it with a funny comment. My guilty conscience kicked in before I could open the app, so I put down my phone and went back to work.
After class, I wanted to grab a quick lunch before heading to the library. I put together a salad from the salad bar and sat down. At a nearby table, I noticed a girl with her iPhone in her right hand, scrolling through Facebook photos, and a sandwich in her left hand, hovering halfway between her plate and her mouth. She was so tuned into Facebook that she had yet to take a single bite.
At another table, a group of about ten friends was chatting and joking loudly. But one by one, each person had pulled out their phone – maybe to tweet a funny comment, check into the dining hall on Foursquare, or to answer an incoming text – until the table was silent. Every single person was staring down quietly at his or her phones.
Social media purports to keep us more “connected” to each other. But is texting one friend, tweeting another, and checking your Facebook notifications actually considered socializing? If the lunch table full of silently plugged-in friends is any indication, I’d say not. The goal of social media is to enhance the connections you already have, not replace them entirely.

Keeping that in mind, I turned back to my lunch and enjoyed savoring my meal. A guy I recognized from one of my classes sat down next to me and struck up a conversation – and I bet it had something to do with the fact that I was easily approachable, not immersed in conversations elsewhere.
I had a busy night coming up, so I wanted to knock out as much work as I could in the library. With studying’s number one enemy, Facebook, out of the picture, I should have been able to blast through all my assignments at lightning speed, right? Well… not quite. Procrastination is procrastination. Because I couldn’t kick back and relax with social media, I ended up getting sucked into blogs, newspapers, and magazines online for way longer than I should have. I might have been procrastinating more productively than usual (like reading about the current birth control controversy at Catholic universities like Fordham), but ultimately, I still had to rush to finish my assignments in time.
I headed back to my dorm to get ready to go out to Style Coalition’s Fashion 2.0 Awards, an event I was covering for Her Campus, with my friend Hilary. Awards were given out to particularly social media-savvy fashion brands all night long (including Best Twitter, Best Facebook, Best Online Video, and Best Blog), so I loved seeing my favorite “Internet celebrities” like DKNY PR Girl and Gala Darling all in one place.
For the fashion/social media nerd in me, the event was total bliss – but in terms of the social media diet, I was put to the ultimate test. How could I attend and participate in an event in celebration of social media when I couldn’t even tweet the event’s hashtag? I felt like a recovering alcoholic in a liquor store. I barely gave my “diet” a second thought as I typed out a hasty, joyous tweet. Hannah, 1: social media:  1.

But karma is a fickle, fickle creature. Within less than an hour of my first illicit tweet, my phone suddenly shut down and refused to turn on until 1 PM the next day. In a theater full of people celebrating social media and tweeting the event in real-time at #fashion20, I pouted, took notes with pen and paper, and felt completely out of the loop.
So, was my social media diet a total failure? I cheated after twelve hours without a hint of remorse. I’ll admit that it was refreshing to disconnect from the outside world for a little while. After all, I don’t really need to be continually inundated with my middle school boyfriend’s photos of his golden retriever at all hours of the day and night. The challenge forced me to engage in the real world, not the digital world.
But, please – don’t get the wrong impression. Once a social media addict, always a social media addict. The minute I finish writing this article, I’m going to tweet about it.

Originally from Boston, Hannah is now a sophomore at New York University and loves life in the big city. Her favorite things include poking fun at celebrities on Twitter, yoga, leopard print shoes, Frank Sinatra, and her little sister Julia. Hannah was Her Campus's first editorial intern in Summer 2010 and has since continued her involvement with HC as the High School Editor and head of the High School Ambassador program. She is a former Seventeen and Huffington Post intern, where she researched and wrote about celebrities and once made lunch for Kylie Jenner. Read her short-form ramblings at @hannahorens.