Cyberfasting students shun social media

By Izzy Anderson - Staff Reporter

Highline students who went on a social media fast for one to three days last week experienced withdrawals, and found themselves more productive. 

The Communication Studies Department held a seminar titled "Is Your Device Impacting Your Identity?" on Nov. 13, where several communications professors discussed how people have come to prioritize social media.  

Prior to this seminar, students enrolled in communications classes, and their professors, were asked to fast all social media for one to three days. 

A surprise exercise was also presented at the beginning of the seminar. 

"Are you willing to let go of your cell phones for 45 minutes?" asked one communications professor.

Black baskets were sitting in the middle of each table, and the majority of attending students proceeded to participate by placing their phones inside the baskets for the rest of the discussion.

"I have to confess, I didn't make a full 24-hours," said Communications Professor Rachel Stuart. "It's because social media has become so ingrained into my life, that it has become almost subconscious."

Due to the fast, many students realized the impact social media has in their day-to-day lives.

"I'd forgotten that I use my phone to make plans with friends, and I don't have any [other] social media, so I was really lonely all weekend. I just ended up doing homework," Highline student Kaitlyn Carlson said.

"I have a 2-and-a-half-year-old, and often times when he's trying to interact with me I'm on my phone… I found myself being more involved and paying attention more," said student Amanda Oren.

For some, the fast was very hard to follow through with.

"I had two mental breakdowns in the middle of this, because normally I text my best friend since she moved," said one student. 

But for others, the fast became something positive.

"At the end of the three days, at midnight I turned on my phone and I looked and had, like, 64 Facebook messages [and] three text messages… I found out that I'm actually important to some people," said one Highline student. "It gave me a sense of self-worth that I don't think I had before."

Students have conducted their own experiments with social media prior to the fast and seminar as well.

"I used to have an Instagram in middle school with over a thousand followers… I started getting frustrated because if people wanted to get to know me, they would just go to my Instagram profile," said Highline student Rachelle Mayes.  "Sometime last year I just deleted everything on my profile except one photo of me and my boyfriend… I like it a lot better because instead of stalking me [on Instagram] to see who I really am, they actually have to talk to me."

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