Men, Women, & Children: A Day Without Social Media

    Men, Women, & Children asks a question many of us would prefer to avoid: how has technology impacted how we relate to others? The movie examines how we use technology, specifically, social media, as a way to interact with people while remaining isolated. In a world so saturated with social media and totally dependant on technology mediated communication, what would happen if two media-savvy college best friends gave up social media for an entire day? Ashley Coppolino and Katie Kausch decided to find out, and set out to disconnect for 24 hours.

Katie Kausch: On an average day the very first thing I do his check all of my feeds: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Timehop. I don’t even think about doing it; it’s totally a compulsion at this point. While I’m eating breakfast I usually scroll through Twitter and read news articles. During the day I check it randomly- just whenever. I definitely tend to favor Twitter though, because it’s my main source of news (I’m a huge news junkie). I even spend the good chunk of time at my newsroom job on social media, looking for a story to pitch to my editors.

Ashley Coppolino: I set aside time to check all my sites in the morning: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Tumblr. From the time I wake up, I’m scrolling through my sites; in class, during my commute, or waiting for my Seamless delivery. Throughout the day, I’m all over the internet. I guess you could use the term addicted. Then, I have  to somehow get off the internet to focus on real-life things, like homework or my job. At night, before I go to sleep, I check everything for the last time. The next morning, it begins again…

KK: The day we decided to disconnect, the first thing I went to do in the morning was check my Twitter feed. It felt so weird not being able to get my news! I had to actually watch television to get news!

AC: I woke up at 8:20, and by 8:30, I could have easily tweeted four times.

KK: I could have easily tweeted about YOU four times by 8:30.

AC: That’s true. But then, being disconnected, it makes you think about how do we even use the internet? Like, if you were to check my Twitter feed, I’m sure you could easily say 80% of it is complaints. Why do I do that?

KK: I feel the same way, but about song lyrics. Who cares about what song I’m listening to? I think we, as a generation that grew up with this technology, have become familiarized and enamored with the idea that someone is always listening to us. It’s very narcissistic.

AC: Well, I do have over 700 Instagram followers. But yeah, I get what you’re saying. Like you said, that’s just what it’s like growing up with the Internet.

KK: It felt like a component of my day was missing by not constantly having an outlet for every menial thought. Half of what I would have tweeted were things I wouldn’t bother saying out loud. It made me realize Twitter is kind of like shouting into an empty room.

AC: I feel like the Internet can also enhance conversations. I figured by disconnecting, I’d have more social interaction with the people around me, but that didn’t seem to be the case. I think the Internet provides a common ground that can spark conversations.

KK: It gives us a way to form a connection with someone without actually have to connect with someone- it’s so much easier to gossip about “is Beyonce pregnant or not?” than it is to have a conversation with any real substance. The Internet lets us check out of that reality. I couldn’t partake in the gossip going on in class, and even though I didn’t even like those girls, I still felt weirdly left out, because they had a common language that, for the day, I wasn’t speaking.

AC: Tell me about it. I had to find out that Corbin Bleu was engaged through a friend. And I couldn’t even see the picture yet. I mean, that too. The Internet is SO visual.

KK: It definitely is. And even though we can identify the downfalls of it, we both mentioned earlier that we were, in one way or another, addicted.

AC: Going back to Men, Women, & Children, those characters were addicted too. I mean, yes, spouses have cheated on each other before, and kids always found an outlet to escape their reality, but the point of the movie is to explain how in our time period, we do it using the Internet. Whether we find it as a good or bad progression, it’s purely based on our own experiences and conclusions.

KK: And I definitely think there’s a generational component to it too. The older characters used the Internet to build realities away from their significant others, while the younger characters used it to created a shared space for their relationship to grow. I’ve definitely found in my own life that social media and technology mediated communication have made it really easy to get to know another person, but people who weren’t raised in the Internet age probably wouldn’t find that to be true for them.

AC: At one point in the movie, the characters were talking aloud and then there were text bubbles appearing with a different conversation. For us, we didn’t find this complicated to follow because we live in this type of world, where we’re carrying two conversations most of the day. Jennifer Garner’s character hated the internet and was constantly checking her daughter’s phone and social media sites. I find that highly violating and super wrong, but somebody who is maybe in their late 50’s or older might not because they were not raised with the Internet.

KK: Well, the Internet is something to be skeptical of to a degree. When I was younger an anonymous user who knew my address threatened to come to my house and kill me, so that instilled a healthy sense of caution in me. That being said, if you teach people how to use the internet in a responsible way, its a great supplement to real life. I would never give up the Internet at this point in my life.

AC: I can’t even think of giving up the Internet. But it’s moments like those that you learn from. I don’t wish that to happen to other people, but I think there is definitely a moment where you realize, “why am I posting this” or “what will happen if I do that?” Like, aren’t we all embarrassed of what’s on our MySpace pages from 2007? That’s because we didn’t know better.

KK: Now that we know better, I think we do a pretty good job of self-monitoring. After all, aren’t most of our Twitter interactions silly pictures of dogs?