Here we go again, the CBC are inadvertently blaming women for their sexual assaults. I am not really sure what isn’t to get. IF I AM SEXUALLY ASSAULTED IT IS NOT MY FAULT. The article I am referring to can be found Here entitled “Women warned to be vigilant after third groping incident.” The title is a reference to the CPS, apparently, warning women to be more vigilant about their personal safety after a man attacked a women last night in Erin Woods. This same man is believed to be responsible for at least 2 other assaults in the area. One woman was attacked in her Garden, another while jogging, and this latest incident was a woman attacked in an alley behind her own home.
Don’t get me wrong I understand the idea that a psycho is still a psycho. The argument goes that the psycho isn’t going to care about the law, and people should make sure they are being safe. And I get this, I really do. This is why when I ride Calgary transit I only wear one headphone as opposed to two (so I can hear the things going on around me). But why must the police, and media issue warnings to women to be more conscious of their safety? I assure you as a women we are always watching out for ourselves but we will not live in a bubble either. Instead of issuing a warning to women about safety perhaps you should be issuing a warning to the asshat who is attacking us in our own gardens. Just a thought. Please stop perpetuating the myth that is “blaming the victim.” Yes clearly this individual is someone who has no concept of consent, or boundaries. But us being more vigilant about our safety, won’t make a difference if he is attacking us in our gardens.
Now I am not sure if the CPS actually said women need to be more cautious, as the CBC never quoted an officer saying anything of the sort. What CPS did say was “It is concerning. We’re just fortunate when he’s challenged this individual flees, but we’re always concerned the attacks might escalate in nature. So, we’re putting a strong effort into capturing this individual.” This is the correct response. Warn the individual you are coming after them, sexual assault is not appropriate, don’t warn women to stop living their lives. Believe me, we are aware.
Now for some information on the suspect:
The suspect is described as a Caucasian male, approximately 25-years-old. He has a slim build and was wearing a black hoodie and grey pants.
I assume that most Canadians are familiar with the Graham James case but in case you are not familiar with the case let me bring you up to date. In 1996 Sheldon Kennedy (and another unnamed hockey player) reported to police about their sexual abuse they suffered by their former hockey coach, Graham James. In November of 1996 James was charged with sexual assault and on January 2 1997 James pleaded guilty to 350 sexual assaults against the two young boys. He would be sentenced to 3.5 years in a federal institution. In 2001 he was paroled by the National Parole Board of Canada, and the Canadian Hockey Association handed him a life time ban on coaching. In 2010, the media revealed that James was given a pardon by the National Parole Board of Canada for these crimes in 2007 (sparking a national
Let’s fast forward to Jan 6, 2010. Theo Fleury came forward to the police to report that he also suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of his formed hockey coach. James pleaded guilty to sexually abusing Fleury and his cousin Todd Holt, after which a third victim came forward to say that he to also suffered abuse (those charges however would be stayed). And on March 12, 2012 he was sentenced to 2 years in prison for those crimes. So let’s review shall we? James was found guilty on 350 accounts of sexual abuse on two young men (all of to whom he was in a position of trust and authority). He received 3.5 years in prison, and was then pardoned in 2007. In 2010, he faced new charges of sexual assault and received 2 years in prison. To top this all off the media broke this week that James could be out on day parole as early as September 20, 2012 and could be out on parole on November 18, 2012 under current parole legislation.
The Canadian public is slowly fighting back, demanding tougher sentences, and harsher rules in regards to sex offenders. A friend of mine, Amy Stewart, was a driving force behind the “No pardons for sex offenders” bill that got passed as part of the government’s omnibus crime bill on March 12, 2012. For over a year Amy worked with various politicians to get this bill presented and passed in Canada that would no longer allow sex offenders to get pardons by the National Parole Board of Canada. It all started from a group on Facebook called “Convicted Sex Offenders Should NOT Get Pardoned” and before long Amy was in contact with her MP pushing for a no pardons for sex offenders legislation. While this is a good start in terms of making victims feel like some kind of justice will be served and significantly cuts down on the secondary victimization that we face in the court system. Canada still has a long way to go. Amy would most likely agree with me. She was quoted by City TV as saying “So this is definitely a good start. As a parent I feel that my kids are a lot more protected. Now I’m not so concerned that a sex offender’s gonna be a hockey coach or a ringette coach anymore – but I still feel that we have lots more work to get done.”
So what more needs to be done? If we look closely at the new Mandatory Minimum Sentences ( I will refer to these as MMS now) put in place by the omnibus crime bill (ironically on March 12, 2012) the sentence that James faced is in line with that new bill. Now under normal circumstances I am not a proponent of MMS they do not deter crime (as is proven in the research), and they tend to make a judges jobs harder, and can sometimes put a lot more power in police officers hands (as they will get to decide what charge is laid therefore determining the potential sentence of the crime). However in this case I say, boohoo for you. We are not talking about property damage, drugs, or theft. We are talking about sexual assault, of children no less. In other words this is NOT about deterring the crime or even rehabilitation (though both would be nice) this is about justice, this is about ensuring that victims can come forward and know it is not all pointless. This is about sending the message that this is not acceptable behaviour. It is already difficult enough to stomp out victim blaming ideology we do not need our court system reinforcing these beliefs, and when sentences like this are handed down that is exactly the messages being sent.
As a victim of sexual assault when I see a sentence of 2 years I feel sick inside.This is not limited to just one case. In February of 2011 a judge in Winnipeg was quoted as telling a court room that sex was in the air, and noted a victim of sexual assault was wearing a tube top, too much make up , no bra, and high heels. He sentenced that rapist to a two year conditional sentence. The laws have many issues that need to be taken care of. For example, under the new omnibus bill someone who rapes a child gets less time than someone with 6 marijuana plants? Or as Mike McIntyre (a popular crime reporter from Winnipeg) pointed out on Twitter “Food for thought: If Graham James held up a 7-11 with a gun and didn’t hurt anyone, he’d be staring at a MMS of 4 years in prison.” This sends the message that sexual assault is not to be taken seriously. I can tell you that this confirms I made the right decision in not reporting to police, and it confirms that until things change I won’t go to police if I am assaulted. The costs for me as a women are too great. If we take into consideration that we will have to face victim blaming questions: such as where we were, who we were with, and what we were wearing, coupled with the stigma we could face from family, friends, peers, and the general public, then you add in the fact that the offender will face 2 whole years in prison with the possibility of release in 6 months? I don’t think so.
In short we all need to pull together and let the government, and people like James know that we will not stand for such violent acts against people. Proper MMS’s need to be put into place for sex offenses and as a society we really must be willing to acknowledge that yes they are about punishment, and retribution. Can we please stop using rehabilitation as an excuse to let these offenders off easily (and I am a proponent of rehabilitation, but we must strike a balance). One young women from Airdrie managed to get a law passed, why can’t we as a society finally stand up and have proper legislation put into place so victims feel like they too have a voice that will be heard without them having to be re-victimized over and over? We need to send the message to victims that it is not their fault, and the message to offenders that if you do this you will face significant time in prison. Again, do I believe it will deter sexual assault. No. Do I believe that victim interests can be served with harsh MMS for sex offenders? Yes. The judge was quoted as saying that the Canadian criminal justice system is not one of vengeance, and while I would tend to agree with her I would also point out that there must be consequences for your actions, and that victims must feel as though their trauma was taken into account when sentencing someone. This is deeper then just one case and indicates that a restructuring of our justice system is badly needed.
For me Graham James’ own brother sums things up nicely telling the Sun“throughout this latest process, I can’t help but think of the Bernie Madoff case Madoff is in jail for 150 years for stealing people’s money. Graham stole much more than that from his victims-their childhoods, their lives, their dreams- and got just a few years.” This sums up the justice system nicely. Steal people’s money? You are thrown to the wolfs. Rape a child? Rape a women? Meh, that’s alright here in Canada people aren’t as important as money anyway. The reaction from the public has been much the same, so I will leave you with some thoughts from Canadians:
“The Graham James sentence was bad. What’s worse, though, is that nobody was all that surprised about it”
“Graham James up for parole in September #seriously ?”
“Canadians are crying about Graham James sentence- tough on crime cpc gives longer sentences for pot? Go Figure”
“The sentence today is nothing short of a national travesty because we know that childhood sexual abuse has reached epidemic proportions in our country” – Theo Fluery and Todd Holt
“The sentences don’t come close to the damage that it leaves in its wake” – Sheldon Kennedy
The last thing that I’ve been examining is the time commitment that Facebook takes, and even Twitter. Who really has the time for social media between life activities? Think about it, we have school, work, kids, and just general life coordination to do. I started to wonder who uses Facebook and how we use it. Checking out the Facebook Stats website I learned that: 50% of users sign in daily, on average Facebook users have 130 ‘friends’, 2 billion posts are ‘liked’ or commented on daily, 250 million photos are added daily, and 350 million users use some kind of Facebook mobile application. Oddly enough those who use mobile applications log on more then users logging on from computers. According to this interesting study, 62% of Facebook users login more then once per day.
I also examined numbers of users around the world, just out of curiosity. Turns out that when Facebook launched in 2004 it gained 1 million users by December. Come December, one year later, Facebook grew to 5.5 million users. And now, in September of 2011, Facebook has over 800 million users worldwide, of which approximately 400 million sign in on a daily basis. This will come as to no surprise, but demographically the top age range of users is 18-24, followed closely by the 25-34 age range.
As I explored the Facebook statistics I started to notice differences in who uses Facebook. I decided to just look at Facebook usage in the United States, as stats were easiest to find. There were some significant gender, and ethnicity differences. Lets look at gender first.
According to Facebook stats, women use the social networking site more then men (about 50% more then men). I started to think about why this is. Even in my own household, which consists of 3 men and myself, this stat holds up. My two roommates do not even have Facebook, and my husband logs on once every few days, and mostly just to upload videos or news articles and sometimes take a peek at what his friends are up to. I on the other hand login several times a day to see what people are up to, talk with friends, keep in touch with family from both sides (including his grandmother), and post news articles.
According to the statistics linked above, women and men also use Facebook differently. Women tend to focus on friends, family, comment on other’s posts, post pictures, and events while men like to talk about pop culture, current events, and post videos. Not only does this not surprise me much, but when I started to examine my friends list I could see that this also held up. My female friends tend to be the ones who are in contact with people more, and post pictures of their families. I often will message my male friends girlfriends on Facebook to see if they want to hang out, as if I wait for my male friends to get back to me… while I’d be waiting a long time. My male friends tend to post a lot of current events stuff, and stupid videos (most of which related to, go figure, pop culture). This, as I stated before, doesn’t surprise me at all and I believe it’s probably because men and women are socialized differently.
When you think about it socialization plays a role in the real lives of individuals, why wouldn’t it play a role on Facebook? Women are often seen as the ones who deal with family issues, and take care of others. It makes perfect sense to me that we would tend to be the ones planning things out on Facebook, keeping in close contact with our friends and family members- particularly those who don’t live close, and posting the family pictures for others to see. There is no doubt about it men are not socialized like this. Men are socialized to be bread winners, and like sports. Someone else will worry about that other pesky stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always the case. But remember I am talking generally here. And generally mom’s raise their daughters to take care of a families emotional needs, while men are raised to take care of financial needs and be protectors. It is reasonable to see this socialization spill over into other aspects of life. Including social media.
The second area where there were significant differences was around ethnicity. Now, I am sure I am going to take some flack for saying this. But Facebook appears to be such a white people problem. By this I mean, wasting time on Facebook is not necessarily a luxury all people have, globally. According to Facebook’s US data, minorities account for
only 10% of Facebook users in the USA. Why is this? If I had to take a stab in the dark I would say this is probably linked to racial inequality, both economic and otherwise.
Discrimination and marginalization is nothing new to North America. Segregation still exists in both Canada and the US. In the US blacks and whites generally occupy different residential areas of different qualities. And often as a result end up with different opportunities, such as education. In most places in the US, for example, local schools are funded solely by the property taxes in the neighbourhood. In other words, if you live in a super rich area your schools are going to be better equipped than those who live in a poorer, or poverty stricken area. Therefore, effecting not only effecting your quality of education but your every day lives. In Canada it isn’t much better.
We, as in Canadians, segregate Native Americans from us by keeping Natives on reservations located, often, on the outskirts of cities. The conditions on reserves are terrible in Canada. Reservations have high rates of infant mortality, less then substandard housing options, low access to clean water, few (if any) social services, and low life expectancy rates. Yes people, that’s right, there are people in Canada that don’t have access to clean water all the time. Obviously, leading to the same types of issues you find in poor working class neighbourhoods in the USA.
So, do you think people in these situations are thinking about Facebook? And even if they are, do you think they have time for Facebook? Most likely not. People in these types of situations are most likely worried about the small things in life you know like food, water, and education. This at least, probably, partially explains why minorities in the US interact far less with Facebook then White people do.
Let’s face it, in North America wasting time on Facebook is such a white people issue, it’s not even funny. People who find time to screw around on the social networking sites must have the access and opportunity to do so. It’s amazing that inequality, like socialization, could spill over into a place that seems on the outside, what’s the right word here? Could seem so ‘colourblind’ or ‘equal’.
So I got a little off topic, but I found all these questions absolutely fascinating when I started to just think about social media and the impact it has on society, or even how society norms, and inequalities, impact social media.
Looking back on the week my world didn’t collapse when I got off Facebook. In fact, I would argue things were better when I was off social media. That is, I got way more done in that week than I would have had I been on Facebook
and Twitter. Last week I managed to finish all my reading for 2 of my classes, and get a head start on several papers I have due this term. Making last week my most productive school week I’ve ever had. I am not saying that I will get off Facebook and Twitter. I use it a lot for my work, inspiration, and to keep in touch with people. But I will be limiting my amount of time on Facebook. One way I have done this is by removing the Facebook application from my iPhone making it harder for me to just log onto Facebook when I am bored.
This project also gave me the opportunity to examine other aspects of social media that I had never thought of before. After being off of it for a week I don’t think I will be spending as much time on the social media site. It really is just a giant waste of time. Case in point: earlier today one of my friends was having an argument with some girl because one of them had ‘cropped’ the other out of their profile picture. *sigh*. Who has the time or desire for Facebook politics?
Here I am a week later, I’ve gotten back on social media and have been using it again since last Saturday. I’ve been watching how my peers are using it, I’ve been answering the stupid amount of Facebook and Twitter messages, and I have been reevaluating how much I use social media. In the last week I have only made 13 status updates on Facebook. For me this is significant as before I would make 13 updates/day.
So all week I’ve thought about social media, specifically Facebook. How much do I use it? How much do other people use it? What was the impact not using it had on me? Who has time to use it? I got back onto Facebook and Twitter this past week and found that it took an astronomical amount of time just to catch up on my notifications and messages. I had over 700 notifications and messages between Twitter and Facebook that needed looking at. I only got through 100 or so before I just gave up and sent out messages to organizations I work with, as well as posted a status up date and told them if it was important to send me a new message. Granted, most of these messages were people who couldn’t get a hold of me within a couple of hours so they send me a new Facebook or Twitter message, but it was still overwhelming. Convincing me further that people expect that instant gratification that social media provides. People expect you to be available almost 24/7. Some of the organizations I work with refused to email or call me and simply sent me messages via Facebook even though they knew I was not available.
I was speaking about this with someone who told me that she gets annoyed when she texts her son because she knows that his phone lives at his side but he doesn’t necessarily answer her for hours or even days. She said she can’t help but to expect that he will text her back immediately. Even technology is finding it hard to adapt to the culture they have created. For example, lets look at BlackBerry. RIM (the developer of BlackBerry) is having some major issues and is facing going under because people just aren’t using BlackBerry’s like they used to. Why? The answer is simple. Technology can’t keep up to what we want.
The BlackBerry technology can’t keep up to the demand. BlackBerry can’t compete with smartphones like: iPhone, Google phone, Nokia N8, and Windows phone, because it is not as good for applications (such as Facebook and Twitter) as its competition is . This is ironic because
the use of smartphones really did take off with BlackBerry in 2003 with the launch of their first smartphone that would push email through. Everyone wanted a BlackBerry. Now BlackBerry is generally seen as a piece of technology that is only good for pushing through email. My husband often refers to it as a ‘piece of junk’ commenting that “I’d even rather have an iPhone over this” (he is not an Apple person at all). The difference being is that you can do so much more with your iPhone then you can a BlackBerry. Facebook is easier to use and to see, the interface is smoother, and there are more applications on iPhone then BlackBerry. If you can think of an application I bet there is one for that. You can download applications for everything from finding the closest Starbucks location to loosing weight, you can even now download a drop box application that will allow you to pull documents off your home computer or laptop. Instant gratification.
Another example is internet usage. According to statistics Canada ”In 2009, 80% of Canadians aged 16 and older, or 21.7 million people, used the Internet for personal reasons, up from 73% in 2007 when the survey was last conducted.” As recent as 5 years ago internet providers used to promote unlimited internet as a product available. But now that people are actually using insane amounts of bandwitch downloading things, and streaming from companies like Netflix internet providers such as Shaw are starting to place caps on people’s bandwith consumption. Claiming higher costs and higher demand. The higher demand can cause a lag in the service during certain times of the day due to high usage. This could be for such internet products such as: Facebook, Twitter, online play, and streaming.
Finally my last example are services such as: Netflix, and Shaw on demand. Both of these services offer movies and TV shows without advertising whenever you want to watch them. Services such as Netflix are streamed over the internet directly to your TV. In theory these types of services could cause a real threat to cable providers. Again, instant gratification.
These examples all suggest to me that technology no longer dictates us we dictate technology. The technology itself has made us expect certain things of people, and companies. And, in turn the technology people are using. For example, I just worked on a group project for a class and one member did not have Facebook or a cell phone. Not only was it really hard to communicate with this person, we also weren’t very happy with the fact that we had to wait hours and hours to hear back from the person.
The vast majority of us also expect this out of ourselves. I often feel like I must be available to people within a short period of time. I’ve found myself answering calls, text messages, and emails at the most inappropriate times (ie- dinner with my husband) and yet I don’t think anything of it, and it is rare that anyone, other then my husband says anything about it. It’s also not unusual for me to be out with someone else for dinner and have them answer emails, texts, or phone calls while we are eating.
Technology has opened this giant can of worms that has become almost impossible to close, and some companies are struggling to keep up with the demand. Facebook is constantly finding they have to change, and expand at least yearly in order to keep from getting boring. I think the time has past for technology dictating what we want, and the time has come where we (as in the western world) is beginning to dictate to technology what we want. There is no doubt about it, we have become slaves to technology but we have become so engulfed in it that we have started to make demands of the technology and it’s having a hard time keeping up in some areas.
Up Next: Reflection Part 2
I apologize for posting this latest blog late but this was unavoidable as I had classes/work all day yesterday and research that needed to be carried out for this particular blog piece. So that said, please enjoy day 7.
I’ve almost made it through in one piece!
All week I have struggled to stay off Facebook and Twitter. Some days were better then others. Some days I can rationally look at my participation in social media and think about the time I spend on social media and ask questions about it. But other days are not like this, other days all I want to do is get on Facebook and see what others are doing, and upload all my pics of my pets. This morning was on of those mornings, I got into the car and there was frost on the windshield. The first thing I thought was “man I wish I could update my Facebook status and complain about the damn frost”. The second thing I thought was that I wanted to get all the pictures off my iPhone but uploading them to Facebook. Why? No one is going to care about the frost on my windshield, and everyone has seen countless pictures of my animals!
These struggles I have had all week have lead me to the question: what is addiction? Often we think of addiction in terms of drugs or alcohol abuse, but addiction can also be behavioral. I feel as though I must explain what I mean by ‘we’ as I’ve been using it all week. I don’t mean “we” as in you specifically, or that I am speaking for everyone and lumping us all together. When I say ‘we’ I mean the western, developed, world.
So what does it mean to be addicted to social media? What is addiction? According to New Brunswick Canadian Health an addiction is when you use a substance, or engage in a behaivour that is repetitive and damaging. Wikipedia says that an addiction is something where pleasure or enjoyment are originally the intention, but over time the use of the substance or activity is needed to feel normal. Bloggers have also tried to answer the question: when are you addicted? Such as this blogger here that attempts to come up with signs of being addicted. Some of my favourite signs include: Tweeting on the toilet, if you had to choose between not eating and not tweeting you’d pick not eating, if you have more then one twitter or Facebook application on your phone, and at least 80% of your family and real friends have ‘unfriended’(deleted) you from Facebook.
It could also be defined as a “recurring compulsion” by someone to engage in some specific behaviour that harms their: health, mental state, or social life.
I like the last definition, I would tend to argue it is probably the best definition for social media addiction, as I can relate to the overwhelming compulsion to log in. But then I must ask “what is social life?” Is social life in person to person interaction only? Or can this be defined more broadly to include our cyber lives as well? Some people I know would argue most definitely, that some of their best friends they met online using Twitter, Facebook, Google +, chat sites, or other forms of social media.
What behaviours are then considered “behaivoural addictions” and who decides this? Some would ask is a social media even a true addiction? Does it have validity? Is it defined through public opinion? Do experts, such as psychologists or doctors with fancy degrees, tell us what is considered an addiction or what we need to watch for in our children to determine if they fit into some said category of addiction? What dictates our use of social media, and how does it fit into our everyday life? Does society dictate the appropriate use of technology, specifically social media, or does technology (in this case social media) dictate the way we behave while out with friends, or in the class room.
Do we (people who engage in social media) expect the same instant gratification out of our ‘real’ day to day activities that we get from social media sites, like Twitter? Do we allow our social worlds to collide with our day to day life so that it just seems natural for us to pick up our phone during a meal and start texting, emailing, or checking messages on Facebook?
One study from 2010 asked social media users when and how they used social media. Some of the more interesting findings included: iPhone users used social media more (perhaps because of accessibility via applications), almost 50% of respondents said they would wake up in the middle of the night and check social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and 56% said that they need to check social media at least once a day.
Perhaps the most interesting responses the study got was when people were asked when they are OK receiving and responding to messages. People responded with all kinds of answers most notable was: during sex, and during a meal.
While this may not be the most reliable study ever done it does give us an insight into what people think is an appropriate use of social media, and it gives us an idea about the recurring compulsion to get on to social media sites.
I don’t know how to answer these questions, and the many others I have, but perhaps I will find answers over the next few days as I write a few pieces on my entire week. What I do think is that social media addiction is, at least for me, a recurring compulsion that has been known to hurt aspects of my life. Or at least get in the way of parts of my life, such as dinner with my husband, and evidently my school work.
I definitively think that some aspects of social media can be, and arguably are, addictive. Maybe even better questions to ask would be: what is it about social media that draws us all in? And what regulates our (as in the developed world) behaviours with this technology?
As day 6 comes to an end and I move into my last 24 hours of being unplugged from social media I realize I am in no real hurry to log back on. I’ve been enjoying this week just reflecting, balancing out my life, reconnecting with real people, and my productivity has gone through the roof. I’ve enjoyed going outside (imagine that), reading books, catching up on my homework (in fact I am now ahead in every subject), and reconnecting with people (including my husband).
The only thing that is a bit scary from this whole week is that it took me a good 5 days to really get over being disconnected from Twitter and Facebook. I am looking forward to getting back online and reconnecting with my online world, but by no means does this mean that I am going to jump back online at 7:30 Thursday morning just because I can.
If you are someone who has been as lost in social media as I have been the last few years, I highly recommend taking a social media break for a few days. Kick back, don’t worry about it, and reflect. You may be surprised at what you find!
Today I decided to sit down and have a conversation with my husband about my use of social media. He also unplugged from Facebook and Twitter this week (though it hasn’t been as hard for him as for me). He told me today that he also didn’t realize how much he was on Facebook, and was outraged with himself for wasting so much time on the site. As a result he has decided he will be limiting his own access after this week to checking such sites only once a day. I don’t know if I can make that same commitment, but I do know that I will be cutting way back on how much I use these tools, and when.
For months he has been telling me that I am too deeply involved in Twitter and Facebook, and at one point he had mentioned to me that sometimes he feels as if he is ‘ having a relationship with the back of a computer screen’. Either because I am always working on my school work, or because I am on Twitter, or Facebook. I do spend a lot of time doing both and often either justified why I was spending so much time doing this stuff, or just ignored him completely and hoped he would forget about it.
We’ve often fought over how much time I spend doing school work, other projects, or being on social media. Obviously I can’t just stop doing my schoolwork, or my other projects but perhaps he may be right about social media. Although I use social media for a variety of different things including: school, networking, and managing various projects I am involved in, this doesn’t mean I should be available 24/7. And that is just the problem isn’t it?
In the age of smart phones you can literally do everything on your cell phone. You can check and receive emails, send text messages, and get push Facebook and Twitter notifications (so you don’t even need to open the application to get them). I have 6 different email addresses that get pushed through to my iPhone. Is this something that is necessary? Will my world, or another person’s world fall apart if I don’t answer their email within 5 minutes? Probably not, but the reality is that most of us who have that iPhone, blackberry, or other smart phone do answer our emails, text messages, or other notifications that come through to our phones fairly quickly. I am not really sure if this is a healthy thing to be doing. Everyone needs time away and it would seem too many people have their cyber worlds colliding with their real world and their are no longer any clear boundaries between the two.
I am just looking at the outrageous amount of ‘apps’ I have on my phone and I can do everything. I have an application that allows me to do all my banking from my phone, I have another that would allow me to post and update this blog (seriously, why do I have that?). I’ve got mobile blackboard, an application that allows me to check in with my classes- OK I admit this one has been useful. I have 4 different applications that allow me to use Twitter, about 10 different games that are really good for draining my battery real fast, and a whole bunch of other useless applications that I will probably never use.
Because we can do all these things and more with our smart phones others expect us to be available within minutes. Have you ever sent an email to your professor and got one back right away and noticed on the bottom it says: sent from my iPhone, blackberry (or other device)? Have you then sent them an email at 10 o’clock at night the day before a big essay is due and then gotten all peeved because they never wrote you back. But you know they have a smart phone and you think to yourself: seriously, WTF? Yeah, I know some of you have done that. For those of you not in school perhaps you had a similar experience with your boss, or even just a friend.
I won’t be giving up social media altogether as I use it for many different purposes but this week I have learned that it is OK to take a break from Social Media. My world won’t crumble in upon itself. And even if some of the people I am working on these projects with are freaking out at me on Twitter and Facebook I am not there to see it, and if it was that important you would think they would have sent an email, or you know picked up the phone. So there is no doubt about it I will reexamine how and when I use social media so that it is no longer excessive and so that it won’t get in the way of the important relationships in my life.
I have seemed to have gotten through the hardest part, the first 3 days. I still got up this morning and reached for my cell phone as usual but I went straight to CBC news application, remembering that I can’t get on Twitter, and spent 10 minutes looking at the morning headlines before getting up and heading on with my day.
We had an unfortunate incident with my cat early this morning involving a toxic plant and had to run her to the emergency clinic which involved a good 1.5 hours of waiting around and it wasn’t until we were on our way home that I realized I hadn’t pulled out my cell phone the entire time we were waiting around the hospital.
I also noticed my productivity has spiked today, noticing a big difference in just 24 hours. Yesterday I hadn’t thought that there was a real difference in what I would normally manage to get done and what I was getting done as I took other kinds of breaks instead of Facebook breaks. Today I realized that I don’t have Facebook and Twitter running in the background on my computer therefore I am not distracted by people Facebook messaging me, or seeing 10 new Tweets on the Twitter tab. I spent more time working during work time, and no time on social media. As a result of this I am a head of schedule in almost all my reading for my classes, I finally finished a project I have been working on for what seems like forever, and I finished a good portion of a book that one of my professors recommended to me.
I still maintain that I am a great multitasker, and am able to maintain a high GPA while being extensively involved with social media (perhaps a bit of denial on my part). However, I can’t argue that participating in social media doesn’t impact how much I get done and the amount of reading and rereading I could potentially get done. This is because it still takes time for me to answer people on Facebook when they message me, or go through those 10 tweets on Twitter before returning to the work I was previously engaged in.
While Twitter and Facebook might be a good mental break for 5-10 minutes when studying at school I think that I am going to have to strike a balance. Open it up for the 5 to 10 minutes and then close it again before going on with whatever activity I am working on. Maybe by changing my social media habits I can be more productive and achieve my goals on time.
Yes, come Friday I may have to seriously evaluate how much access I let myself have to social media. In the mean time I will continue on and try to get through the next 3 days in one piece, and in good mental health.
As I end day 3 of my detox from Facebook and Twitter I’ve surrounded myself with supportive people and have heard all kinds of advice for getting through. Some useful, some not so useful. One of my friends suggested it must be like quitting smoking and to hang in there because it gets better after day 4. Another friend of mine told me to start using Google connect instead. This of course being the popular idea of trading one addiction for another that people often do. My father in law told me he would be my official sponsor, and also to wear mittens. And another person suggested chewing gum.
It’s interesting because my husband is doing this with me, as a way to support me, only he is having no issues at all, and frankly this makes me dislike him. Not because he is not having problems with it, but because it confirms my own addiction. I bring this up because he received an interesting email from Facebook and in the subject line he said it read “a reminder from Facebook: you haven’t logged on in a while.” How creepy is that? Facebook tracks your average use and when you are a way too long it sends you an auto email to remind you of all you are missing in the world. “Rob….where did you go Rob? Why don’t you like your friends anymore Rob? We miss you Rob. Come back to us Rob.” Yes, the more I think about it, the more it creeps me out. But not enough to keep me away.
I have classic symptoms of detox, and addiction: anxiousness, bitchiness, a short temper. I say I am having these issues because when my friends and family bring up Facebook or Twitter or say I have an addiction to it I get snappy and cranky with them. Today I still found myself reaching for my cell phone wanting to update my Facebook status, and see what other people are up to.
I find that my mind is wandering, wondering if I have been tagged in any horrible pictures, or if anyone is saying anything about me, and what messages might be in my inbox. It may seem extremely self involved but how can we not be when we are all so obsessed with an online world that is based on us. Look at Facebook for example (or Myspace if you still use that) both evolve around us. You make a profile all about you and we all get to feel important with our 587 ‘friends’ that are all, presumably, reading about our lives, half of whome we either: don’t know, don’t like, or are indifferent to.
I remember a few months ago I went to Chapters and the girl looking at books in the same aisle as I, was someone on my Facebook. We never exchanged a word the entire time. That day my Facebook ‘friend’ list fell from above 200 to below 80.
But even more then that, we feel as though we are loosing control. And I think that may be the scariest, and hardest part of it all. When in reality no one really cares about my Facebook, or is talking about me. Why? Because they are all too busy talking about themselves to talk about me and truthfully, I am not that important. No one is. This is the reality of Facebook. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.
As sad as it may seem, I don’t really know what to do with myself. I’ve thrown myself into school work to try and keep busy, but I am not really doing anymore then I would normally. I still take breaks, only the difference is now I find myself with nothing to do on these breaks. I can’t just hop onto Facebook to see what everyone else is up to, I can’t hop on to Twitter and get the afternoons latest headlines, so instead I found myself having to go for a walk. Imagine that, I was actually forced to go outside!? I don’t think we realize how much we use these online communities in our everyday life. Whether it be a break from school work, a break from working, or just simply because we are bored. I often hear people say they eat when they are bored, well I Tweet when I am bored. It keeps my mind occupied, and allows me to interact with people who are like minded.
You may be reading this and thinking to yourself that I am one very sad individual, probably someone with no friends, perhaps little family, gets poor grades in school, and sits on MSN all day ( do people still use MSN?) but this is not the case. I have wonderful friends, and a great family, whom I love and see often. I do well in my classes, and complete my homework (eventually). I like to go out with people, I enjoy movies, and even the outdoors (camping as an example). But social media is so accessible that you can access it on a cell phone from anywhere. Hell, I can access my Facebook whilst I am camping at Red Streak camp ground in Radium which is up on a mountain. How ridiculous is that? Have you ever found yourself in a movie theater texting your friend? Or find yourself checking your Facebook while you are at dinner with someone? I bet at least some of you have done this. My husband had to make a rule for us ” No cell phones while we are eating.” I think a sign of addiction is when said activity starts getting in the way of other parts of your life?
“My name is Nicole, and I am addicted to social media.”
Before I get into my withdrawal for the day I wanted to address something that a couple professors brought up to me today. “Aren’t you cheating by blogging about your experience?” In simple terms I would argue no. Maybe I should have first blogged about the assignment itself. So I’ll go back to the beginning. This is my assignment:
“This assignment option gives you the opportunity to critically examine and reflect upon your relationship to Facebook. For one week (and you must stick to this for one full week), you will unplug from Facebook completely.”
As I stated in my previous entry I didn’t believe that just unplugging from Facebook would be an experience as for me Twitter and Facebook are the same and I use them in the same way. For this to be meaningful I needed to unplug from both. Also, blogging is a completely different type of social media than Facebook, Google connect, or Twitter.
A blog is an online journal where you essentially share your thoughts, opinions, and criticisms, on a public forum. Whereas Facebook, Twitter (and others) are not only about receiving instant information they also keep you in touch with friends in an interactive way. Facebook and Twitter keep me in touch with people, and friends instantly. There is no wait time. I log on and become a sponge soaking up useless information about what colour someone’s babies poop was that day, or about how Jane Doe in Arizona broke the record for largest pizza ever made.
I can go on and chat with friends in real time, send messages, receive messages, update my status to give everyone on my Facebook or Twitter some useless information about something I saw in the hallway, and post endless amounts of pictures of my cat and dog so that my father can look at them on his iPhone and make my mom look at my dog in 6 slightly different poses. In other words Facebook and Twitter are a scary all-consuming addiction.
Speaking of addiction, it’s now been just over 36 hours since I took the plunge and gave up Facebook and Twitter. Even as I sit and write this there is a commercial on TV telling me to “like” the Food Network
on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter. I am being mocked in every way! And in this moment I realize that I am going through some clear withdrawl, as someone may go through when giving up coffee.
Some have told me I am visibly cranky (though that is not the word that they used), and even
jittery, and distracted. Several times I have had to stop myself from hitting the share button on a news article I have read. There have also been several times where I have seen something and I find myself scrolling through my iPhone so I can ‘update’ my Facebook status. Only to remember that: I can’t just post the hilarious thing I saw on the train because I am banned from Facebook, and more importantly I deleted the apps from my phone so I couldn’t go on the sites. Which is an indicator of addiction within itself, that I had to delete the applications on my phone so I could not make the update.
I’ve found in the last 36 hours I go to do this without even thinking about it. For example, I got up this morning and within 2 minutes of being awake I grabbed my cell phone, only to remember I could no longer hop on twitter for the morning news. Instead, I opened my CBC news app on iPhone and impatiently waited for it to load. Why? Why do we do this? I can’t be the only person on the planet that does this.
Once CBC finally loaded I was horrified to see that the headlines were the same as they were when I went to bed last night. This would not have happened on Twitter, or even Facebook. Headlines get posted to Twitter immediately, one could argue that you get the news as it is happening instead of having to wait for someone to write about it. Now I haven’t been on Twitter long, but I have in the past 6 months noticed I will read about a “breaking story” on Twitter and 4 hours later it will get sent to my phone via: QR77 email ‘breaking news’ alert.
I think this shows us just how much we expect instant gratification. I don’t want to hear the news hours later, and Twitter has made it so I don’t have to. I want to hear about it as it is happening. And why? Does it really matter if I learn about some guy being charged for another guys beating 10 minutes after it happens or 8 hours later? Probably not. That said perhaps the instant gratification isn’t all bad. If you can hear about a charge 10 minutes after it happens, you could, can, and do, hear about such things as amber alerts just as fast. Which in my opinion is something that needs to get out to the public instantly. But how do we strike a balance in our lives, is it as easy as everyone thinks it is to just turn off our social media connections?
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