When I was approached by an English teacher at school and asked to give up social media for a week, then write about how I found it, it took everything I had not to laugh in her face. A week without Instagram? No, thank you.
However, she explained to me that it was for the BBC School Report and the broadcasting company had approached us directly, thus it was a big opportunity for our school. So, being the gracious (and modest) young lady that I am, I accepted the offer. I mean, how bad could it be anyway?
It turns out, not that bad. I can't lie, the first day was tough – I posted my final Snapchat story for a week about my friend and the seven pints of milk he'd just bought (don't ask, I don't know why either) because I felt it was important for me to go out on a high, then I deleted the Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Pintrest apps off of my phone.
We were all given badges declaring: "I am part of the pledge," which we could give in at any point during the week, should we feel that living a week ~sans social media~ was too much of a struggle. But I wasn't planning on throwing mine in the box any time soon. Winners never quit.
That lunch time, the absence was significant. Every day, me and the girls would sit together and read the Cosmo Snapchat Discover, but instead we had to actually sit and talk to each other. Turns out, they're actually nice people. (Jks, I knew that already.) (But they're not as nice as Cosmo.)
After school on the first day was hard too. In fact, we were a mere 4 hours and 45 minutes into the pledge when my dear friend Katy said, "You know, I'm really not liking this pledge thing." Clearly, things were looking exceptionally positive from the offset.
It did pick up, though. Luckily, I had 100 desserts to bake for a Church fundraiser so it's not like I was twiddling my thumbs all day Saturday, but regardless I found that after a day or two I'd grown accustomed to not trawling through Instagram purely out of boredom. I got out of the habit of looking for the app only to find it wasn't there, and the shock of checking my phone to find no notifications wore off pretty quickly. (Yes, I get no notifications other than social media. Yes, I know how sad that sounds. I do have friends, I promise.)
Did it revolutionise my life to spend a week without social media? I can't say it did. Granted, I was marginally more productive than usual and I did actually give my bedroom a good clean which, trust me, is no mean feat. But for an expert procrastinator like myself, where there's a will there's a way. I did, on more than one occasion, find myself taking a shower because I was that desperate to put off work. One thing I did notice was an improvement in my punctuality- only by five or ten minutes, but that's enough time to eat breakfast, and see my friends for a few precious minutes. It wasn't a lot, but it was nice not to scoff a banana on the way to school and turn up to lesson, slightly sweaty with seconds to spare.
I got a bit more reading done too, which did please me because I'm a real book lover and I'm forever kicking myself for not reading enough during the week. It was just a chapter or two most nights, but it's far better than the embarrassing lack of page turning I was doing before.
For me, the biggest loss was my Twitter account. As an over-eager feminist and a passionate advocate for social equality, I take to Twitter on a daily basis – and, on occasion, Instagram – in an attempt to educate my poor followers on the issues of inequality within our society and why it is so important to speak up on these matters. Having this taken away from me was incredibly frustrating because there is no shortage of hot topics to preach on. Rest assured I'll find something to rant about.
In summary, what I found was this – the use of technology and social media isn't a bad thing. A life without it is no more fulfilling than a life with it. It is, however, an incredibly good resource for learning things you're not taught in school – about the way our society functions – and a brilliant way of both making and sustaining relationships with people whom you would never meet without your trusty technology.
And don't even think about trying the: "In my day, I went outside to talk to my friends," argument with me. I have a friend in the Philippines. Am I supposed to just hop on a plane to have a quick chat about how she's doing? The world is changing. Great, in your day you nipped to your pal's place for a coffee and a catch up, or chatted for hours on the landline in your hallways, but in your day, most people's lives were almost exclusively contained in one town. Only ever meeting up face to face was a feasible option in the past, but that's not the reality of the world we live in any more.
That in itself is the purpose of technology; we have to keep up with the progression of society. People are travelling, living in exotic locations, experiencing the world in ways they never have done and we have to cater for this; travelling and learning more about the diversity of this planet is one of the most valuable things in life and to hinder that due to an unwillingness to accept change would be a real shame.
I'm a firm believer in developing this world to make ourselves the best, most educated, most tolerant and, most importantly, the friendliest people we can possibly be. Don't get me wrong – I know that technology has its downfalls. I've seen cyber-bullying and I've seen people underachieving in school due to misaligned priorities, but that's not everyone, it's a confused minority.
When it's used in the right way, I feel that technology, social media and all things related are priceless aids to the development of our society; and the loss of it would prove more detrimental than it would enlightening.
So no, I won't be giving up social media and technology forever. I'm sorry, but it's just not an option. You can take the girl out of Instagram, but you can't take Instagram out of the girl.
Ed. Olivia Taylor is in year 12 at Tarporley High School. This makes the Editorial team feel rather behind the pace!
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