New Media

Go A Week Without Social Media!? Are You Kidding Me?!

by Wesley Hyatt on 09/14/2010

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania is enforcing a campus-wide ban on using social media this week. They call it an academic exercise – I call it torture.

OK, maybe that’s going a little too far. But still, seven days without instant messaging anyone? Not even getting to look and comment on the cute new pictures of my friend’s pets on Facebook? Man, why don’t you just cut off my reason to live!

This announcement just makes me realize how dependent we all have become on social media. It’s used by everyone from my prepubescent niece and nephew to Ivy Bean, a 104-year-old woman in England. Life via social media has so radically affected us that now a majority of Americans say in a Pew Research Center poll that while they want and need home computers and cell phones, they no longer consider landline phones or even TV sets a necessity.

Here’s an indicator of how pervasive social media has become. WCBS FM, an oldies radio station based in New York City, recently topped the ratings in its market. By playing no songs that have been hits since 1990, it virtually has guaranteed minimal interest at best among twentysomethings or younger who were not around to hear the tunes when they first were popular. Yet it has the highest listening audience in Gotham even without catering to this sizable audience.

I’d say one reason why this is occurring is because it makes extensive use of social media. It has Facebook and Twitter accounts, and allows easy access to people to hear the station on an iPhone or Blackberry as well. The latter is an idea more stations around here should pursue as well (are you listening to me, Y102?).

When this week ends, Harrisburg students are supposed to write reflective essays about being denied social media. I can already tell you the answer without having to write so many words – they will say it was inconvenient and depressing at first, but they adapted to life without it. Still, they would rather have social media available easily for them because it is a tool that makes life easier and more enjoyable, particular to communicate with family, friends and their followers. Which is why more people are participating in it every day, of course.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this. Feel free to comment below – unless you are a student at Harrisburg University this week, of course.


Photo credit: Todd Ehlers


Ashley Bollinger said...

Welcome to the “un-plugged” life. I, being a college student, have a hard time imagining life (let alone a week) without social media. For one thing, most of my professors use social networking sites as a means of class communication. Twitter and Facebook are commonly trafficking by students and faculty alike. Some professors even use them as a means of dispersing assignments.

In fact, just last week I met a girl who didn’t have a Facebook account, Twitter account or even a cell phone. I remember looking at her and thinking to myself, “How does she even function?” Guess we have come a long way from the “dark ages” of interpersonal face-to-face communication as our primary networking device.

Sep 16, 2010