Social Media Sabbatical

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Last week I chose to disconnect from social media for 48 hours. While I do not have many social media accounts, the accounts I do have I check often including Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest . I wanted to see how disconnecting from social media completely would affect me. Instagram and Pinterest are the accounts I check the most. I would estimate I check Instagram once every half hour and Pinterest once every hour.

At first taking this break made me feel anxious. I had to consciously think about not checking my accounts until I finally decided to uninstall the apps on my phone. Uninstalling the apps made it easier because I couldn’t see the icons when using other apps on my phone, such as Google calendar. The hardest part was not checking my accounts when I was waiting for something. I had a couple of appointments during these two days and instead of scrolling through Instagram while waiting I listened to music or read articles on my phone instead. After the first half of day one without connecting to social media in any way I found it extremely satisfying and surprisingly empowering not checking-in. I never realized how much control social media had over me. Another observation I made while disconnecting was that I paid more attention to my surroundings. It is so easy to get lost in an online world that sometimes we forget to notice the world around us. My overall experience from a social media sabbatical was extremely freeing. I am going to try to disconnect for a longer amount of time and see how that makes me feel.

Social Media Literacy Today

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While reading the article Attention, and Other 21st Century Social Media Literacies written by Howard Rheingold, I found the following quote very accurate: “Access to many media empowers only those who know how to use them.” (2010, pg. 14) If people do not know how to use social media it can limit their access to a great variety of information. Like Rheingold, I feel that all five social media literacies are equally important. Attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption are all intertwined in developing a child’s social media literacy. I also agree that children need to learn how to develop mindfulness about where they put their attention, but I do not think this should be forced. It was a little shocking to me that Harvard Business School and the University of Chicago Law School banned web access in classrooms. I understand that they want students to pay attention to what they are learning, but many times during a class I have used my laptop to look something up I didn’t understand while a professor was lecturing. Just because students are using their laptops during a class does not necessarily mean they are not paying attention to what is going on in the class. I also would have an issue with other students taking notes for me because they could miss something or write in a way that is not clear to me. 

I think that this quote really sums up why people should participate online via social media: “When you participate, you become an active citizen rather than simply a passive consumer of what is sold to you, what is taught to you, and what your government wants you to believe.” (2010, pg. 18) Even though this article was written in 2010, I feel that it is still very accurate today. The only thing I would add would be something about social media etiquette and digital tattoos. Overall, this was a very interesting article to read and I would recommend that anyone, especially those educating children, read it.